Young Orange County STEM students received a boost from Chapman University’s Emerging Entrepreneurs Award funding one of more than 160 scientific solutions to real-world problems in the 2022 ocMaker Challenge.
More than 650 students showcased their projects in the event organized by Orange County Department of Education’s Career Education and STEM teams. The Chapman University Ralph W. Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics offered the inaugural award and its $500 prize to a team of students from Irvine High School for their project, “Overhead,” which employs artificial muscle to help individuals with upper-body disabilities.
The ocMaker Challenge is an annual competition for elementary, middle and high school students to design, build or significantly repurpose a product that solves a problem, need or want.
The Ralph W. Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics, an OCDE partner for nearly a decade, introduced the award for young entrepreneurs to explore, nurture and develop creativity and initiative for self-starting endeavors.
“High schools are teaching foundational concepts about entrepreneurship related to STEM,” said Mario Leone, director of the Ralph W. Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics. “This competition gives us a meaningful way to engage with students as they gain skills essential to their growth as entrepreneurs.”
Other activities the Ralph W. Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics hosts in collaboration with OCDE include organizing product pitch competitions for students, inviting guest lecturers and hosting facility tours.