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THRIVE Young Innovators Challenge Showcases Innovative Ideas from Local Students

Apr 4th, 2017

Last Friday, tech-focused middle and high school students convened at CSUMB @ Salinas City Center to take part in the inaugural THRIVE Young Innovators Challenge. Hosted by the THRIVE Innovation Foundation, in partnership with Taylor Farms and the City of Salinas, this exciting, hands-on event drew over 125 local students, and allowed them to explore the future possibilities of technology and science.

To fuel inspiration before the start of the challenge, our CEO Bruce Taylor and Rolando Perez, Doctoral Student, Stanford University, spoke to students about the endless opportunities available to them, and the need for technology-based innovation in the world today. They both spoke on their personal experiences with innovation — Bruce touched on the evolution of packaged salads over the years and the part that technology played in these advancements.

After the speeches, students assembled into 12 teams and worked to tackle the question: “How Can We Feed 9 Billion People by the Year of 2030?” Mentors from local colleges supported each group in their brainstorming, project development, and presentation.

At the end of the day, the groups presented their idea to a panel of judges that included:

  • Joe Gunter, Mayor, City of Salinas
  • Dennis Donohue, Director, Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology
  • Ray Corpuz, Manager, City of Salinas
  • Mareese Keane, THRIVE Program Manager, SVG Partners
  • Jacob Martinez, Founder, Digital Nest

After much deliberation, the panel of judges chose three winning teams who were awarded cash prizes and a sponsored day trip to Silicon Valley to tour tech giants Google and Intel.

First Place – Oakwood School

The Oakwood team’s solution involved a “multi-environment greenhouse” that consisted of multiple levels with different environments where the temperature, humidity, and light levels are monitored and controlled by smart sensors. They constructed a greenhouse prototype using recycled materials, and demonstrated the fan that will cool the greenhouse using a Raspberry Pi microcontroller and Python programming language.

Oakwood School Winning Team: – Emily Moya, Alejandra Johnson, Robert Walker, Jashan Pabla, and Meghan Lee

Alejandra Johnson from Oakwood School presents their greenhouse prototype to panel of judges.

Second Place – First Tee of Monterey County

The team from First Tee of Monterey County created a plan that utilized video game technology and delivery drones to increase efficiency in delivering leftover food to those in need and to help avoid sending excess waste to landfills.

A student mentor from Hartnell College, Alex Viches, Amy Aldama, Roxanna Javier, Francisco Alvarez, Ricardo Ivich, and Pierce Nelson

Third Place – Harden Middle School

Harden Middle School’s STEAMpunk Academy developed an idea that would help those in need access food that would otherwise go to waste. Their idea was to create an app that brings leftover food from restaurants, grocery stores, and other food producers to people who need it – in places like shelters, transit centers, and food kitchens – for free.

Taylor Farms believes that it’s extremely important to encourage local youth through events and programs like the THRIVE Young Innovators Challenge. We can’t wait to see what this next generation of innovators comes up with in the years ahead, and we look forward to being involved in many more events like this, where they are encouraged to develop skills that will help them and their communities “thrive” in the future.

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