Innovation in Aging

Technology literacy solution wins 2021 WiSys Innovation in Aging student idea competition

Grandmother’s influence motivated competition winner

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay student Cheri Branham’s plan to increase technology literacy among aging populations took first place in the WiSys Innovation in Aging student idea competition on Feb. 25.

The annual student idea competition challenges UW-Green Bay students to create innovative solutions to combat hardships and improve quality of life for an aging public. The competition gives students an opportunity to grow idea development, collaboration and public presentation skills.

“Congratulations to Cheri Branham for the excellent presentation during WiSys Innovation in Aging,” said WiSys President Arjun Sanga. “Every year, we are excited to partner with the leaders at UW-Green Bay to showcase the University’s many innovative students. Yet again, the students did a great job applying their education to an important real-world problem affecting our state. Cheri and the other students are shining examples of why the UW System’s regional campuses are collectively among the most innovative in the country.”

First Place:

Cheri Branham
Cheri Branham

Branham, who won a $1,000 prize, documented shortfalls in technology literacy among older adults, their dependency on technology and the potential to improve their quality of life through greater adoption of more technology.

Branham’s solution is to provide one-to-one assistance to older adults by making connections to young people as trainers and facilitators.

The Social Work major from Green Bay, Wis. who will graduate in May 2021, said what motivated her to enter was seeing so many flaws in the system the past year of her grandmother’s life.

“She passed away in November, so I decided to address some of the challenges, Branham said. “I originally wanted to do policy change, but decided to do something I could do immediately. In the future I plan to work with pregnant women who struggle with substance abuse and are in the Department of Corrections. There’s also a lack of programming for this population so I hope to address it in my future!”

Second Place:

A team of students—Jordan Cioni, Andrew Akin, Elly Purdy and Andy Weigel—took second place in the competition with their innovation “Choppa.” Working with recent alum Katelyn Desrochers as their advisor on the project, the team developed “Choppa” as an easy-to-use cutting board device designed for people affected by arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or other physical limitations.

The solution won the team—which represented the UW-Green Bay Engineering Club—a $750 prize, along with a $100 award for participating as a student organization.

Third Place: 

Team C.A.L.M.—made up of UW-Green Business Administration students Cassie Bougie, Anna Eaton, Lisa Joiner and Megan Bonikowski—took third place and a $500 prize for their solution to address the negative effects of colored beverages on the mouths of older adults. The team developed a dual-ended color resistant product called “ColorStop” to protect lips and teeth from beverages such as red wine and coffee. The solution won the team a $500 prize.

To view the students’ presentations or the entire event, including a keynote by Devon Christianson, the director of Aging and Disability Resource Center of Brown County, visit wisys.org/aging or on the WiSys YouTube Channel.

WiSys Innovation in Aging is a partnership between WiSys, the UW-Green Bay College of Health, Education and Social Welfare and the UW-Green Bay Gerontology Center.

Props to the IiA Competition planning committee members who worked hard on this initiative and the competition’s first-ever virtual IiA event.  Planning members are:
Katie Turkiewicz
Brad Ricker (WiSys)
Mike Zorn
Doreen Higgins
Stephanie Rhee
Dean Von Dras
Sue Craver
Jamie Schramm
Susan Gallagher-Lepak
Ryan Kauth
Denny Christoff (student)
Rita Ebbott (student)
Adhira Sunkara (WiSys)
Organizers would also like to recognize the judges: Brian Walsh, Mary Bouchee, Liza Steffek, Dr. Jim Warpinski and Matt Geimer.

WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.

VIDEO LINKS:

FULL https://youtu.be/LaGHniAiM_4

Tech Literacy: https://youtu.be/kErj9Qi8VkU

ColorStop: https://youtu.be/-czzRDCqEBI

Choppa: https://youtu.be/IiX1h8s0pN0

Keynote: https://youtu.be/P3QaVXOOZhw

Press Release by Craig Sauer, WiSys

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