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Students win Most Innovative Solution award in Milking the Rhino

photo of jewelry made by students

Four Penn State Berks students received the Most Innovative Solution award in the Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase for their work teaching a skill to the youth of the Children and Youth Empowerment Center (CYEC) in Nyeri, Kenya–how to take the vast amounts of electronic waste in the area and create jewelry that they can sell to support themselves in the future. The Milking the Rhino Showcase was held at Penn State University Park campus on November 16, 2011.

The group of seniors included Linda Camacho, an Information Sciences and Technology major from Reading; and three Business majors with minors in Engineering Entrepreneurship: Ryan Fink from Lehighton, Krysta Kamowski from Lehighton, and Krystle Morales from Reading.
It all began when the Penn State Berks “Creative Minds Team,” comprised of Penn State Berks students, along with their professor Dr. Sadan Kulturel-Konak, traveled to Kenya from May 17 to June 2, 2011, to visit the Children and Youth Empowerment Center in Nyeri, Kenya to teach the youth a skill that would help to sustain them: how to create jewelry from electronic waste and benefit from the profit for future educational advancements.

This initiative was coordinated by Dr. Sadan Kulturel-Konak, associate professor of Management Information Systems and coordinator of the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor.  

“The idea of creating jewelry out of electronic waste in Kenya was very innovative in many ways: reducing the waste, creating sustainable solutions for the population of street dwelling young people in Kenya, and contributing to youth education” commented Kulturel-Konak.

The student team is currently working on developing a marketing plan to sell the jewelry and accessories in the Greater Reading area.  At this point, the team is exploring ways the local community can benefit from this project. The project is funded by a Program and Course Development Grant from National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).
Inspired by Milking The Rhino, an award-winning documentary produced by Kartemquin Films that examines environmental conservation from the perspective of people who live with wildlife and offers a complex, intimate portrait of two community-based conservation efforts in Kenya and Namibia, Penn State has created the “Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase” for students from all majors as a venue to foster critical thinking about sustainable community development, developmental entrepreneurship, and the role of technology in enabling new solutions to global inequities.

Student teams from across the world are invited to articulate their understanding of the challenges faced by indigenous communities in Africa with regard to wildlife and natural resource management, conservation, and sustainability. The teams then draw from their academic areas to conceptualize and effectively communicate innovative and sustainable solutions to empower indigenous people and foster development by leveraging local resources. Students prepare three-minute video pitches, which are rated by a five-member interdisciplinary panel of referees.

This year the Milking the Rhino competition had more than 60 entries, and nearly 200 student participants from eight universities, colleges, and high schools from America and Kenya. Each video was viewed by at least seven different referees and judges with expertise including Engineering Design, Social Entrepreneurship, African Studies and more.

The Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase is hosted by the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program at Penn State. Sponsors include the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK), Marjorie Grant Whiting Center for Humanity, Arts and the Environment, Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Office of Student Activities, Center for Global Studies, School of International Affairs & the Dickinson School of Law, and Johnson and Johnson.