Mar 14, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
Angelique Johnson competed in a relatively new invention competition during her junior year in high school.
She and two classmates from North Oconee High School in Bogart, Ga., came up with the concept for “Melanomapp,” an app to educate, prevent and diagnose melanoma. Their idea was for people to take pictures of moles on their body, and an algorithm would determine whether they changed shape and color over time. The app would also connect patients with dermatologists.
The team’s idea won Georgia Tech’s 2014 InVenture Challenge, which encourages K-12 students to identify real-world problems and test solutions while exposing them to engineering and entrepreneurship. It is an extension of the Institute’s annual InVenture Prize, which awards cash prizes and fosters students’ interest in innovation and startups.
The K-12 competition changed Johnson’s education path.
“Georgia Tech was not on my college radar at all, but after the InVenture Challenge there was nowhere else I wanted to go,” said Johnson, who is now in her second year at Tech studying biomedical engineering. “It was pretty amazing that Georgia Tech was open to giving me experiences in research and entrepreneurship when I was still in high school. Who does that?”
The InVenture Challenge was piloted during the 2012-13 school year at just two schools. This year more than 2,000 students from more than 60 schools participated, said Roxanne Moore, a Georgia Tech research engineer who runs the program.
From that group, 82 teams will be on campus Wednesday to compete in the K-12 InVenture Challenge State Finals. The main event is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. Winners will be chosen at the elementary, middle and high school levels for first, second and third places.
As part of the program, teachers receive training and lesson plans on how to introduce engineering and entrepreneurial concepts into their classroom lessons. The students pitch their ideas to Georgia Tech faculty and researchers and get feedback.
“In high school we never did engineering, so this was my first engineering project and first business projects, and I loved everything,” said Chunqing Lu, a second-year biomedical engineering major at Tech and one of Johnson’s teammates. “It was a chance to be innovative and creative.”
The 2015 InVenture Challenge winners also attended North Oconee High School, and two members of team now attend Georgia Tech.
Nick Rupert and Carlton Winstead designed ChemHelp, an app to help students visualize the more difficult concepts of chemistry.
They continued to work on the app last year taking a startup course through the CREATE-X program, a Georgia Tech initiative to enhance and support entrepreneurship programs for undergraduate students.
“Overall, I feel like my participation in the high school InVenture Challenge and CREATE-X have helped me grow and learn a lot about business in the real world, and how to take an idea from concept to a tangible product,” said Rupert, a computer science major.
Who knows, maybe one of these students will win the InVenture Prize down the road.