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Villanova University Students Compete in SPARK Innovation Competition, February 12-13

SPARK Innovation Competition

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University has partnered with O’Brien & Gere, a national engineering solutions company, to bring the third annual SPARK Innovation Competition to Villanova’s campus. The think tank style interdisciplinary competition is open to all students who accept the challenge of solving real world sustainability-themed problem statements in an innovative way.

The fast-paced 24-hour contest begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, and will end at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13. Groups of four to five students each will join together with O'Brien & Gere subject matter experts, as well as other industry experts, to form teams. Each team will be assigned one problem statement in an area of sustainability, including stormwater, waste management, health and safety, or energy efficiency.

“The Spark Innovation Competition is a great opportunity for our students to not only solve real-world sustainability problems, but also to work with local industry leaders,” said Liesel Schwarz, Villanova University Sustainability Manager. “We hope this competition will draw students from across the University. The problem statements are designed to incorporate a multitude of study areas.”

The teams will work diligently over a 24-hour period to brainstorm, problem solve and find an innovative and eco-friendly solution to their assigned problem statement. At the culmination of the competition Friday afternoon each team will be required to make a formal presentation of their ideas and solution to a panel of judges. The winning team will be awarded $1,250; second place, $750.

“We are excited to support future engineers and scientists as they connect knowledge from the classroom to practical, real-world challenges,” said Tom Nowlan, a Senior Vice President in O’Brien & Gere’s environmental business. “This think tank style competition encourages creativity and innovation as an extension of the students' core technical training, while providing an opportunity for collaboration between the Villanova University students, O’Brien & Gere’s subject matter experts as well as industry and government partners.”

In 2013 and 2014, O'Brien & Gere held the SPARK Innovation Competition at Syracuse University focusing on real time problem statements.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.

About O’Brien & Gere: O'Brien & Gere has become more than an engineering solutions company throughout its history of creating a better future since 1945. At the center of the Company’s story are clients ranging from advanced manufacturers to higher education, federal agencies, and municipalities. These clients trust O’Brien & Gere to deliver sustainable solutions and integrate innovative technology to solve the evolving advanced manufacturing, energy, environmental, and water challenges of today and tomorrow. For more information, visit