SwatTank is the premier event for entrepreneurial Swatties looking to develop their project ideas and work to refine them towards fully-fledged ventures.This annual innovation competition organized by the Center for Innovation and Leadership sees groups of students go head-to-head to convince a panel of judges that their concept is the most promising among the diverse array of proposal. Every year the competition teems with exciting projects that snag the eyes and ears of the judging panel. Before the climactic final judging event on April 8th, the Phoenix offers an exclusive insider sneak-peek at some of the least promising projects that will be showcased. The following are excerpts from each team’s pitch, published unedited in their entirety as they will be presented in April.
“Path 3.0”: Callie Howarth ‘22 and Marnie Gonzales ‘24
“The alternate path parallel to Magill walk was opened in early October to redirect traffic during installation of piping for the upcoming geothermal system which made Magill walk inaccessible for most of Fall 2021. Though it was born out of a mundane logistical necessity, this path proved to be a tremendous success among pedestrians on campus. Foot traffic on campus increased by 23% as a direct result of this path’s implementation. More importantly, customer satisfaction surveys found that people much prefer walking on this alternative path than on Magill walk. “Path 3.0” hopes to build off this tremendous success by constructing yet another path parallel to Magill walk (and, by the laws of geometry, parallel to the path parallel to Magill walk).
Another path will bring this campus an array of benefits. For one, according to the theory of induced demand an additional path will further increase the amount of people who take walks. This will raise the average vitamin D level on campus and will thus contribute to a healthier, less depressed student population. Additionally, carving another huge path through Mertz lawn will make it easier for students living in Mertz, DK, and AP to make the journey to Sharples when Mertz lawn becomes “Mertz swamp” in rainy conditions. As an added bonus, this will prevent the frisbee team from practicing on Mertz lawn. They’re having too good of a time, it’s a problem.”
“ClassMersion”: Janet Flower ‘25 and Olaf Farrington ‘25
“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education cannot be understated. Thrown into disarray by lockdowns and social distancing requirements, teachers and professors had to quickly adapt to new technologies as they implemented online learning solutions. Though this sudden shift from traditional classroom education was incredibly arduous and logistically complicated, it ultimately represents a massive success story for innovation in a field that has otherwise been stagnant and resistant to technology since the invention of the dry-erase board. We see such a tumultuous time not as a threat, but as fertile ground for innovation that will change the course of education for the better.
Our project, “ClassMersion”, is the next evolution of immersive online learning. Though online learning brings many benefits, students in online learning environments often feel alienated and distant from their peers and instructors. This leads to a loss of classroom cohesion and ultimately to less effective instruction. We seek to address these challenges by creating a more stimulating and engaging classroom environment where learning can occur.
ClassMersion is the solution to the shortcomings of online learning. Rather than restricting learning to a virtual environment on Zoom, ClassMersion brings students together into a physical environment (called a “classroom”) where they can inhabit the same space as their peers and their teacher. Through this physical proximity to each other, students and instructors build strong connections they would not have been able to foster otherwise in a virtual classroom.
In developing ClassMersion, we were guided by the Rather than speaking into their microphones or typing in a Zoom chat, students and professors will be able to communicate with each other by simply opening their mouths and vibrating their vocal cords.
“FallStock”: Heinrich Hanes ’22 and Lia Terry ’24
“Worthstock is one of the most exciting and beloved annual events at Swarthmore. Every spring, students get to celebrate the end of the year with a huge music festival hosted right in their backyard in Worth courtyard. Due to the pandemic, Swarthmore has not hosted Worthstock since Spring 2019. Considering how many students have missed Worthstock because of the pandemic, we want to make sure that in the future everybody is able to attend and enjoy this iconic event.
Traditionally, most people who have missed Worthstock were unable to attend because they were abroad in the spring semester of their junior year. To address this problem, we propose creating another Worthstock in the fall semester as well so that students who are abroad in their spring semester can still attend Worthstock that year. To achieve these aims, we are planning on getting $60,000 of seed funding from SGO. We will choose the artists who will perform. We have good taste in music, trust us.”
“Sledster”: Janet Flower ’23 and Olaf Farrington ’23
“Sledding on Sharples trays is an iconic wintertime activity at Swarthmore. Sharples sleds are the preferred means for such an activity because of their ubiquity and their ease of use. Students must simply take a tray from Sharples, sit on it at the top of a snowy hill, and sled downslope. But though Sharples trays are the most recognizable sled options, they are not the most structurally ideal for the task. Thorough materials testing revealed that the bottom surface of the trays comes in full contact with the ground and thus causes a tremendous amount of friction which prevents the rider from reaching top speeds downhill. To address this problem, “Sledster” is a program to install snow skids on the bottom of a certain percentage of Sharples trays. These skids can be folded away for normal use of the tray.”
“Barriair”: Myles Palacior ’25 and Timur Henderson ’24
“The metal fences that have dotted the Swarthmore landscape since the beginning of the construction of the Dining and Community Commons Project undoubtedly play an essential role in protecting the trees of our beautiful arboretum from any possible damage caused by construction equipment. As important as they are though, it is a truth often repeated that they are an eyesore that for too long has plagued this once picturesque campus. “Barriair” seeks to remedy this issue by creating a new kind of fencing which will protect the trees but won’t negatively affect the visual landscape.
We were inspired by the transparent plastic Covid barriers at the front desks of Sharples, McCabe, Essie’s, and other campus establishments. Since these barriers have been scientifically proven to be completely useless in decreasing Covid transmission, we hope to reutilize them towards more effective means by erecting them as barriers around trees to replace the existing metal fences. This way the trees will be protected in an elegant way without jeopardizing the aesthetic of the arboretum landscape. An added bonus is that students ordering at Essie’s will be able to convey their order and name without needing to duck under the plastic barrier to scream it out.”Roundup: the Least Promising SwatTank Pitches