Innovators of the Month for July 2014

By: Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators Last Updated: July 27, 2014

"Innovators of the Month" highlights the newest Members of the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana for use by the media serving Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke Counties. The Society celebrates Fellows and Chanute Prize recipients, but also recognizes other Members of "The 2013 - 2014 Class." The Society shares their inspiring stories of innovation in each monthly edition. The Society is part of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center of Ivy Tech Community College Northwest. For information, contact O'Merrial Butchee, Director, Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center at (219) 981-4942, or John Davies, Assistant Director, at (219) 981-1111, Ext. 2292.

Debi Pillarella, Fitness Program Manager, Take 5 For Life Program, Fitness Pointe, Community Healthcare System & Community Hospital, 2013 – 2014 Team Member

Equipped with wristband wireless devices called a Fitbit, 120 students in four classes at Morton Elementary School tracked over 300,000 steps in a unique health and fitness program called Take 5 for Life. Designed to address the rise in childhood obesity, this 12-week program at the Hammond school was funded with a $25,000 grant from ArcelorMittal. The in-school program takes a holistic approach to educate children about the five key tenets for a healthy lifestyle. These are 1) Be physically active; 2) Eat and Drink Healthfully; 3) Manage your Mind; 4) Get your ZZZ's; and, 5) "Feel Good about Yourself."

Morton is the latest school to participate in this model program that has benefited more than 5000 children in seven school systems that showed that overweight children increased activity and reduced at least one factor for childhood obesity.

"It's not about how many pushups you do, but about encouraging movement throughout the day," she said.

The Fitbit wristband uses a display of LED lights and vibration feedback when students reach their walking goal for the day. Launched last fall, the program brought into the classroom hospital dieticians, certified personal trainers, yoga instructors, and other health and fitness professionals. There was a 72% increase in physical activity, 92% improvement in knowledge of nutrition, and 88% improvement in lean mass of students.

Lana Zimmer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, St. Joseph's College, 2013-2014 Member

To expose students to urban agriculture and opportunities for entrepreneurship, Lana Zimmer, Ph.D. was the first to secure a competitive grant at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer from the Ball Foundation Venture Fund to establish the Hoophouse Farming Eduventure. The hoophouse – also called high tunnel farming - has 15 ft. ceilings that allows vegetables to grow vertically. This facility that allows four-season agriculture was recently visited by more than 50 students participating in SLYCE. This is a 7-county youth leadership program launched by The South Shore Leadership Center.

"They were surprising knowledgeable about the food localization movement and issues related to food, social justice and the environment," she added.

The hoophouse was funded with a $25,000 grant, one of three awarded by the Ball Foundation Venture Fund in 2012. This provides seed money to innovative start-up programs among the 31 member institutions of the Independent Colleges of Indiana. The Hoophouse "...has been a tremendous addition" to Saint Joseph's sustainable agriculture program launched in 2011. As part of a broader sustainability action plan, this includes a Community Learning Garden. This is a one-half acre organic vegetable garden managed by faculty and students, and also involving members of the community who purchase shares to buy vegetables.

"The hoophouse gives the college additional programming for sustainable agriculture to increase production, protect the environment and build stronger communities," Zimmer said.

Young Innovators Mentored by NWI Leaders at the Workplace!

Winners of the 2014 Young Innovators Video Challenge sponsored by The Society of Innovators, Lamkin I & E Center, Ivy Tech NW, were mentored by NWI leaders. At left is Kaylee Slont in TFT museum mentored by Stewart McMillan, Task Force Tips.

Our Thanks to these NWI Mentors!
The winners of the 2014 Young Innovators Video Challenge were mentored in recent weeks:

  • Whitely Buck, Hammond Academy of Science and Technology & SLYCE, by Don Keller, Tri-State Industries.
  • Anita Flowers, Wirt/Emerson Visual and Performing Arts High Ability Academy & ECIER, by Chris Vanni, Franciscan Alliance.
  • Ka'Lesa Dalton, West Side Leadership Academy & ECIER, by Don Babcock, NIPSCO.
  • Kaylee Slont, Chesterton High School & SLYCE, by Stewart McMillan, President & CEO, Task Force Tips.

Saluting These Society Members...

  • Member Cal Bellamy shared the Crossroads New Venture Competition presented by Krieg DeVault, with $60,000 in prizes. Go to www/
  • Moving Day was July 7th for Member Jon Groth and his amazing team to move the old Grand Trunk Railway station further down the tracks to the Porter County Career & Tech Center property.
  • Member John Hodson, Kankakee Valley Historical Society, helped lead the University of Notre Dame's Summer Scholar program to discover more artifacts at the Collier Lodge Site, Kouts.
  • Non-physicians and non-med students were among attendees at Fellow's Ernie Talarico, Ph.D.
  • Annual International Cadaver Prosection Program to prepare "first patients" for medical students this fall at the IU Medical School on the IUN Campus.

Member Co-Authors APP Designer
Member Cameron Banga, Co-Founder 9magnets LLC, has co-authored Essential Mobile Interaction Design for mobile app developers. "Mobile apps should feel natural and intuitive, and users should understand them quickly and easily. However, few mobile app developers have had adequate training in these areas. Essential Mobile Interaction Design fills this gap, bringing together proven principals and techniques you can use in our next app-for any platform, target device or user." For information, call (219) 688-9924.