AKRON — A group of master's degree students from Santa Clara University has earned the $5,000 first prize in this year's Goodyear Innovation Challenge with their proposal for addressing the industry's auto technician shortage.
Sudip Guha, Noe Lemus-Diaz and Winnie Siqi Wu won for their mobility-as-a-service technician entrepreneurship program.
The annual contest, which went fully virtual for the first time, is sponsored by Goodyear in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University. Goodyear said this year's contest featured a record number of student proposals that addressed mobility challenges.
The competition allowed master's degree students in the U.S. to use their design and business innovation skills to "strategically identify opportunities to win in the future of mobility given a post-pandemic new normal."
Five teams were selected to participate in the five-day virtual hackathon, where students were mentored by employees of Goodyear's Akron Innovation Lab as they developed prototypes, analyzed business models and prepared their pitches. A panel of Goodyear Design and Innovation leaders served as judges during the pitch presentations.
Second place went to University of Michigan students Katarina Chan, Molly Ketch, Nadia Ogene and Avril Prakash. Their pitch targeted helping Gen Z drivers learn basic vehicle maintenance through a gamified app.
Third place was awarded to Abigail Brenller, Akhil Gupta, Emily Hays and Sachin Pai from Georgia Institute of Technology, whose proposal addressed opportunities related to fleet management solutions.
Other participating teams included students from Texas Christian University, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University.
"Going virtual with this year's challenge allowed us to reach a whole new set of ambitious students who impressed us with their innovative and creative proposals," John Brainerd, Goodyear manager, Innovation Lab, said.