Ideas come to life

Butler University President Jim Danko has distributed $300,000 to members of the student body and faculty promoting various advancements.

The money was part of Butler’s Innovation Fund, which is money set aside to financially support ideas that have potential positive impact for Butler.

More than 70 proposals were submitted for consideration by the evaluation committee, which consists of selected faculty, staff and external Butler supporters.

Money ranged from amounts of $9,000 to $55,000 and was distributed to 10 separate projects.

Members of the evaluation committee received copies of each project and ranked them on a scale of one to five, five being the highest.

The Committee then further received the proposals that received the highest ratings and selected the finalists for funding. One of the funded projects was a joint effort between senior Jordan Burt and Timothy Carter, director of the Center for Urban Ecology.

Both individuals oversee a lab that converts campus vegetable waste to biodiesel for campus vehicles and equipment.

“This growth opportunity has always been in the back of our minds,” Burt said. “Then the Innovation Fund came out, and it just made sense to apply.”

Burt said they produce a gallon of the fuel for 80 cents, which would cost more than $4 from another source.

“The fuel we are using is obviously serving as a huge economical benefit for the university,” Burt said.

Burt said they hope to use the funds to buy a processor capable of producing 50 gallons a week and 2,000 gallons each year.

“No way I thought a year ago we’d be doing this,” Burt said. “It’s just been amazing to be a part of it.”

Another long-term project that received money was a mobile app idea for education provocation conceived in the College of Education.

Kelli Esteves, assistant education professor; Arthur Hochman, education professor; and student Courtney Boyle envision the app as being a collection of material that teachers submit from across the nation.

Esteves said they wanted a way to share their idea of the perfect teacher and decided on an app because it is non-existent in the marketplace.

They hope teachers will submit their helpful thoughts in the form of videos, lesson plans and quotes.

“The app is aimed for professional development for teachers by teachers,” Esteves said. “It’s a way for teachers to look to each other for advice and learning.”

Esteves said they hope for the app to be launched within a year due to a long development process.

One innovation project that will be put in effect quickly is the inaugural Butler Arts Festival.

Ronald Caltabiano, dean of the Jordan College of the Arts, received $45,000 to support the program, which is happening for eight days at the end of April.

“It is innovative for this campus to bring all the arts together,” Caltabiano said. “We want to grow into a cultural resource for the community.”

Caltabiano said the festival will include about 40 events featuring performances in music, dance and theater, as well as art shows and lectures surrounding the theme of revolution.

“When the application process came out, we jumped right on it,” Caltabiano said. “Without the Innovation Fund, it would be a much smaller production.”

Innovation funds are to be distributed and projects are expected to start next month.


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