BW Senior Wins Contest With New Innovative Idea

Nicole Salapa, Contributing Writer

Kara Gawelek, BW senior, participated in the development of an innovative idea and became Blackstone Launchpad’s Year of the Idea grand prize winner.
Gawelek said the hours she has spent in the BW microbiology lab, researching and working on projects, directly contributed to her winning idea.
Gawelek’s winning idea was the “Semi-Automatic Pipet Tip Cartridge”.
Gawelek explains that when working with multiple test samples, researchers have to continuously change the sterile tip on a micropipet, a tool designed to transfer these samples.
This particular step is crucial to avoid contamination.
“When you’re using sometimes hundreds of tips for a single experiment, the time definitely adds up,” Gawelek said.
She noted that one conversation with a coworker inspired her to come up with a solution to this problem.
“[In my junior year], my coworker, BW alum Tyler Alban, and I starting complaining about how long our work was taking and talking about the ways to improve pipetting,” she said.
“I definitely have to thank Tyler for keeping me company during the experiment and inspiring the conversation.”
Gawelek’s conversation led to a $200 prize as well as the $300 grand prize from Blackstone Launchpad.
Blackstone Launchpad is a resource for students, faculty, and alumni who have a business or non-profit idea and want to make their dream a reality.
“Entrepreneurship, starting your own business, is a phenomenal opportunity,” Mike Nock, the Director of Blackstone Launchpad, said. “It’s a great career to have—owning your own business. And now is the time for students to try this.”
Nock explains that for college students, the stakes are low while the opportunities are very high.
The Year of the Idea contest was created in order to raise awareness of Blackstone Launchpad and to encourage students to put forth ideas and innovate.
Over $2500 in prizes were given away to 12 student winners and two faculty winners.
“We wanted to inspire people and add creativity to the public campus,” Nock said.
There were over 110 ideas submitted for the contest.
Nock said that there have been students who entered who are already trying to bring their ideas to life.
The winners were chosen on the originality of the idea, the need for the idea (the problem and how the idea is a solution), and the distinction from existing ideas, products, or businesses.
Nock believes that the contest was definitely successful. He also said Blackstone Launchpad plans to do another idea contest in some capacity next year.
The Blackstone Launchpad services are available to all current BW students.
The office is located on the lower level of the  Student Union between the Bookstore and the Quarry room.
Students need to complete an online profile form and are then ivited to complete a Venture Assessment Form to describe the planned project.
Meanwhile, Gawelek plans to put her prize money to good use.
As a neuroscience and biology major with a minor in chemistry, Gawelek plans to move forward to medical school after receiving her undergraduate degree from BW this May
“I couldn’t have received the award at a better time,” Gawelek said.
“The very same day I was notified that I won, I was invited to interview at a prestigious school on the East Coast. This award will definitely help me fund the trip.”