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The Eastern Echo

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Podcast: June 9, 2021

EMU's Fashion Marketing and Design Program gives back to the community, and EMUiNVENT brings young Michigan creators and inventors together.

Ronia Cabansag: On this week’s episode, we’ll be talking about the Fashion Marketing and Innovation program’s donation to The Preemie Pals Project, as well as EMUiNVENT’s third year of operation. I’m Ronia Cabansag, and this is the Eastern Echo podcast. 

EMU’s Fashion Marketing and Innovation professor Julie Becker involved her computer-aided design classes in a new project that will be continuing into the summer.

Becker’s latest endeavor had her students cutting up fabric squares that were then donated to The Preemie Pals Project. Under the project, the fabric was later turned into quilts and donated to places such as Mott Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. 

Becker believes that textiles themselves are beginning to make a comeback, especially considering how many people learned or relearned how to sew to make homemade masks.

Becker told The Echo, “If anything, the pandemic has also helped with revitalizing an old skill. Sewing is a dying art, but hopefully with this project, it gaps the generations.” 

Becker wishes that with this project, others will see the potential of how important and integral the textile industry is to society outside of fashion. She is also hopeful that students not only learned skills in efficiency, geometry, and mass production, but that they also learned about the many career opportunities available to them surrounding the Fashion Marketing and Design program.

In university news, EMUiNVENT is entering its third year, giving a space for young Michigan creators and inventors to compete with each other.

This past March, 121 students from Washtenaw County participated in the Henry Ford Invention Convention, a regional, annual event in which teams of students from third to 12th grade utilize innovative thinking and problem-solving to create and compete with unique inventions. 

EMU joined the convention as a regional hub in 2019, composing 60 teams of students from Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Plymouth-Canton, and Livonia school districts. 

In the first year of EMU involvement, there were seven categories that the students' projects fell into including lifestyle products, sustainable living and environmental cleaning, disability support and medical devices, automotive and mobility devices, safety and security, technology advancement, and education. 

The global pandemic created difficulties for how the 2020 convention would operate.

“A large majority of the projects were around the issues students faced as a result of Covid and related guidelines and restrictions," Sheri Vivek, EMUiNVENT coordinator, told The Echo. “The students were able to make a positive out of the Covid situation by basing their projects on finding solutions to the problems created by the crisis.” 

The university provides mentors to students interested in being a part of the convention through the independent inventor program. This, combined with teacher involvement from each individual school, has created a thriving creative environment. This initiative is considered an ESTEAM program, which adds entrepreneurship and arts to the STEM umbrella.

Vivek talks about how EMU wants to show students that they can be involved in science, technology, and math related activities, even if that is not where their future is leading. 

“The idea is to encourage even those students who do not see themselves as STEM students to participate, because an innovative mindset and problem-solving does not need just science and technology," Vivek said. "If you have the right idea, you can collaborate with experts in different fields and create a product that will solve the problems of society and the environment.”

From June to August of 2021, EMUiNVENT has organized summer camps under the Dare2Design moniker for all three grade levels involved in the convention. In this program, engineers, entrepreneurs, and scientists from the community will work with and mentor students in small groups to develop their ideas and create prototypes, which can be further developed in the school year.

If you want to learn more about this year’s convention and the projects created, it will be documented on Invent EMU’s YouTube channel. Next year’s EMUiNVENT is scheduled for March 11, 2022.

As always, thank you for listening, and don’t forget to tune in next Wednesday for another episode. Also, check out our new Eastern Echo Music Podcast hosted by Layla McMurtrie every other Friday, where she discusses the hottest new music releases and shares recommendations for every genre. 

Reported: Cedrick Charles, Megan Forystek, Anastasia Moutzalias

Scripted: Layla McMurtrie

Produced: Cameron Santangelo

Host: Ronia-Isabel Cabansag