Marshall University freshman earns top honors in Tri-State Makes Festival

Joshua White of Barboursville, W.Va., a freshman in the College of Arts & Media at Marshall University, captured the Grand Championship Award in the 2021 Tri-State Makes Festival Design Challenge presented by the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI).

White won $2,000 cash for his original design of an interactive web-based game to connect students, parents and teachers virtually to educational resources and opportunities available across West Virginia.

STEAM Trek enables players to explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) organizations and institutions such as the NASA Katherine Johnson Independent Verification & Validation Facility in Fairmont, the Green Bank Observatory, the Huntington Museum and Marshall University, among others.

Residents of and students attending school in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky competed for more than $5,000 in cash and prizes in RCBI’s annual contest, a celebration of creativity and ingenuity. The 2021 event was presented in conjunction with the LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network at Ohio University and the Shawnee State University Kricker Innovation Hub.

Other award winners are:

Appalachian Manufacturing Award Adult: Gary and Julie Gini of the Instrument Lab of Spencer, W.Va., for the DentOut Magnetic Burnishing System, innovative tooling to remove dents from brass musical instruments easily and economically. The Ginis will received $1,000 in technical assistance from RCBI to refine their concept or develop a new product.

Appalachian Manufacturing Award – Youth: Elina Gigantelli of Charleston, W.Va., for MIXEVE, a series of pre-packaged, easy-to-prepare plant-based food blends to boost daily nutrition. Gigantelli will received $1,000 in technical and marketing assistance from RCBI to help commercialize her innovation.

New Entrepreneur Award: Logan Moreland of Hampshire Senior High School in Romney, W.Va., for The Wally, a 3D-designed, space-saving water bottle holder that’s flexible and portable. Moreland will receive a $500 package that includes an Ender 3D printer and supplies as well as a year-long membership in the Maker Vault, RCBI’s community makerspace.

Innovation in Action Award: A team of students in the Graphic Design simulated workforce program at the John D. Rockefeller Career Center in New Cumberland, W.Va., for Sensory Paths, a series of colorful screen-printed pathways that encourages elementary-age students to channel their energy by embarking on sensory-stimulating journeys that develop motor skills, improve hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness. The students will receive $500 cash for their design.

“For the eighth-consecutive year, RCBI is proud to support and recognize the innovation and creativity of makers of all ages from across the Tri-State region through the Makes Festival,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO. “The level of talent and creativity on display year in and year out is truly inspiring.”

The Tri-State Makes Festival is made possible through the generous support of sponsors Suddenlink and Edward Tucker Architects.

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