It is no secret that Bowling Green State University houses a number of centers and laboratories for
students to develop their research and innovations.
But many of these facilities are also open for public partnerships. Private companies, nonprofit
organizations and the general public can collaborate with the university to better develop potential
That’s exactly what two Bowling Green High School students did in 2018. Jake Stucker and Sean O’Donnell
created a product idea aimed at helping protect bodies of water from being polluted or damaged by
The two pitched their idea at the 2018 DECA International Career Development Conference and took second
place in the Entrepreneurship Innovation Plan category, in which more than 200 qualifiers from around
the world competed. Not to mention, the ICDC hosts more than 19,000 students annually in Atlanta.
Stucker, who is currently taking general studies writing at BGSU through the College Credit Plus program,
and O’Donnell are fortunate in that they both have personal connections to BGSU alumni at local
institutions of higher learning. Stucker’s mother, Jenn Stucker, is an associate professor of graphic
design at BGSU, while O’Donnell’s mother, Amy O’Donnell, is a career development lecturer in the College
of Business and Innovation at the University of Toledo.
Because of these connections, the two students were able to better assemble an advisory team that opened
the doors to BGSU’s Collab Lab and UT’s Maker Society.
In developing their idea and prototype, Stucker and O’Donnell utilized the Collab Lab, a
2,000-square-foot facility designed for innovative thinking.
"We are thrilled that Jake and Sean were able to use the resources at the Collab Lab to advance
their project," said Dr. Jerry Schnepp, Collab Lab director. "I hope that their example will
inspire others in the community to come to the Collab Lab to explore new technology, engage in
collaborative work and develop innovative solutions."
The Collab Lab offers the technology and expertise to help teams of innovators work together to conceive,
create, develop and refine new products and services.
This creative, hands-on space is open to students, faculty, staff and community members looking to engage
in collaborative work. Through the Collab Lab, Stucker and O’Donnell connected with student leaders as
well as faculty concerned with water research.
"I served as a mentor to Jake and Sean," said Jacob Kielmeyer, BGSU junior and former BGHS DECA
competitor. "They’re both great kids eager to learn and, most importantly, willing to put in the
time needed to succeed."
Kielmeyer assisted Stucker and O’Donnell with ideation and offered tips for presenting their product.
"BGSU provides a great environment for new ideas and entrepreneurs to thrive," Kielmeyer said.
He is one of many students to participate in The Hatch program. Similar to the popular television show
"Shark Tank," The Hatch is an investment platform for BGSU student entrepreneurs to present
their business ventures to a panel of alumni investors. Students hope to receive funding that will take
their innovation from the idea stage to a product or business with commercial potential.
"We have over 60 students who have taken their ideas for funding through the Hatch program,"
said Kirk Kern, lecturer of marketing in the College of Business and director of the Paul J. Hooker
Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. "We are currently working with three past students on
proving concept and taking their ideas to market."
In 2017, Kielmeyer presented his idea at The Hatch for "Nostalgia Therapies," a multifunctional
Alzheimer’s therapy tool he hopes will change the way families reconnect with loved ones suffering from
the disease. His proposal garnered investment from two BGSU alumni, which helped further develop and
research his idea. Kielmeyer is now connected with the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health as well as
SarahCare, where he is developing a working prototype to use in an eight-week research trial.
To date, more than $500,000 has been committed to student startups. The next installment of The Hatch is
set for April 11, when a new cohort of innovative students gets the opportunity to test their design
Not only did Stucker and O’Donnell enlist the help of the Collab Lab and Center for Leadership at BGSU,
they also contacted University professors researching water concerns.
"I told them my assessment of the potential of their idea and offered some suggestions about
additional information they might find helpful," said Dr. Bob Midden, associate vice provost for
experiential and innovative learning and associate professor of chemistry.
Midden participates in a scientific research project investigating major issues threatening the
environmental integrity and economic vitality of area fresh waters. The project is housed in the new
Lake Erie Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health at BGSU.
In assessing the potential for their idea, Midden was able to provide "information about competing
technology as well as scientific principles that would help them evaluate their idea and optimize its
possible performance," he said.
With water research and safety at the height of local and global concern, their innovation could make
significant impacts on the way pollution and its effects on human health are studied.