Ready. Set. Solve! Teams Announced for Inaugural Wege Prize

Posted December 9, 2013 in Public

Over the last few months, students from around West Michigan have been networking, collaborating, brainstorming, and strategizing as they worked to build teams for the inaugural Wege Prize competition, which asks teams to work collaboratively and use design thinking principles to solve this year’s wicked problem: creating a circular economy.

Wege Prize participants connect at the Wicked Launch networking event

Thirty students in total will be participating on six teams, all of which exhibit an impressive diversity of academic disciplines, talents, and interests. Representing six different regional colleges and universities, the teams that will soon show West Michigan and beyond what the future of problem solving will look like are:

Cooperative Dynamics

·       Nickolai Kim (Grand Valley State University, Social Work)

·       Ryan Parrish (Kendall College of Art and Design, Industrial Design/Collaborative Design)

·       David Visscher (Aquinas College, Sustainable Business)

·       Joshua Visscher (Aquinas College, Computer Science)

·       Mikey Vu (Michigan State University, Packaging Design)


·       Zachary Collins (Grand Valley State University, Business)

·       Nate Knoth (Grand Valley State University, Undeclared)

·       Robert Martinez (Grand Rapids Community College, Economics)

·       Kyle Meeuwsen (Grand Valley State University, Allied Health Sciences)

·       Jordan Vanderham (Grand Valley State University, Mechanical Engineering)


·       Casey Bilodeau (Aquinas College, Psychology/Theology)

·       Molly Cook (Aquinas College, Sociology/Theology)

·       Emily Hazelbach (Aquinas College, Business Administration/Communication)

·       Zach Jones (Aquinas College, Biology)

·       Kacie Mauer (Grand Valley State University, Occupational Therapy)


·       Aziza Ahmadi (Grand Valley State University, Public Administration/Environmental Studies)

·       Eric Choike (Kendall College of Art and Design, Industrial Design)

·       Yulia Conley (Grand Valley State University, Applied Economics and Urban Planning)

·       Jacob Czarniecki (Grand Valley State University, General Business)

·       Philip Han (Kendall College of Art and Design, Collaborative Design)

Tomorrow Today

·       Blake Bensman (Aquinas College, Sustainable Business)

·       Ben Georgoff (Kendall College of Art and Design, Collaborative Design)

·       Gregg Rupp (Grand Valley State University, International Business/Supply Chain Management)

·       Jamie Sansone (Aquinas College, Sustainable Business)

·       Craig Van Vilet (Grand Valley State University, Economics)

Wicked Solutions Inc.

·       Matthew Johnson (Kendall College of Art and Design, Industrial Design)

·       Kristina Raiz (Aquinas College, Sustainable Business)

·       Evelyn Ritter (Hope College, Mechanical Engineering)

·       Gabriel Robinson (Hope College, Business Management)

·       Nicholas Schut (Hope College, Communications)

The teams will have until midnight on February 16, 2014 to develop their solutions: a product, service, or business model that can function within and help create a paradigm shift towards a circular economic model. These solutions will be evaluated both by the public and by a panel of judges comprised of industry professionals.

KCAD President David Rosen speaks to students at the Wicked Launch networking event


On February 19, each solution will be made public on, where the public can view them in detail and vote for the solution that impresses them most.

Michael Werner, who will sit on the Wege Prize judges panel, speaks to students at the Wicked Launch networking event

On March 3, the teams will present their solutions to the panel of judges during a special event at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, where $30,000 in total cash prizes will be awarded - $3000 for each member of the winning team, $2000 for each member of the second place team, and $1000 for each member of the team that receives the most public votes.

Brainstorming at the Wicked Launch networking event

We can’t wait to see what innovative ideas our thirty wicked problem solvers will bring to the table!

Stay tuned to to see what’s next.