The Dairy Innovation Hub Student Challenge competition was the brainchild of Heidi Zoerb, CALS Associate Dean for External Relations and Advancement. This unique program was one of seven short-term, high impact research projects funded this past summer at UW-Madison.
While the Challenge was always intended to include students from all three Hub campuses, the unexpected shift to a virtual format caused by the COVID-19 pandemic made collaboration at a distance a little easier. Participants engaged in a semester-long program to develop new products to grow the Wisconsin dairy community. Each team benefited from consultation with an assigned industry mentor. The three top awards went to projects involving bio-actives to extend the shelf-life of yogurt; an online game to encourage dairy consumption; and a non-invasive septum ring to monitor cow temperature. A video highlighting challenge winners is posted online at: go.wisc.edu/votedairychallenge.
The goal of the program was to harness the creativity of students at UW-Platteville, UW-Madison and UW-River Falls to develop novel solutions to one of these challenge areas:
- Enhancing the shelf-life of Wisconsin dairy products
- Encouraging dairy product consumption by Wisconsin students
- Utilizing IOT or robotic technologies to enhance operations
This project connected to several Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommendations: #26 “Increased collaboration in the UW System and with private industry,” #3 “Encourage young people to pursue ag careers,” #11 “Educational programming for non-farm audiences,” #41 “Support for public and private partnerships.”
Zoerb joined forces with colleagues at the Madison-based Hyper Innovation agency to establish the Challenge during this past fall semester. It was open to students in any major or program, in fact, the Challenge was promoted heavily to students outside of agricultural majors.
Hyper Innovation has experience running innovation challenges for students, including with the Emerging Technologies Lab in the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery at UW-Madison. Their focus is on applied learning and problem solving in disruptive tech (think Block Chain, AI, AR/VR and IoT) in digital health, sports technology, retail, transportation, dairy and agriculture and other sectors.
Volunteer mentors were an important component of the Challenge. Eight mentors included faculty members at the three campuses, Wisconsin dairy organizations, and from the start-up community in Madison. Mentors provided the student teams with access to their connections and experience and give them real-world advice.
In all, five student teams presented seven different solutions, two each in “Enhancing shelf-life” and “Using technologies” and three in “Encouraging dairy product consumption.”
The Challenge included 12 students total, and two teams that presented two solutions each. Participants included undergrads, MBA and MS and PhD students. Visit the Dairy Innovation Hub Student Challenge website to learn more.This article was posted in Uncategorized.