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Bike crafted by Appalachian students from plastic bottles wins national entrepreneurial contest

plasticbike_t.jpgBOONE—When Ryan Klinger, Andrew Drake, Spencer Price and Justin Henry created a working bicycle from plastic drink bottles, they didn’t know their creation would take them to California.

The Appalachian State University industrial design majors have won the first national Juicy Ideas Entrepreneurial/Environmental Contest, a competition in which college students from across the United States created something of value from an item that is typically thrown away as trash.

Justin Henry, Spencer Price, Ryan Klinger and Andrew Drake.jpg
A team of students from Appalachian State University comprised of Justin Henry, left, Spencer Price, Ryan Klinger and Andrew Drake has won the national Juicy Ideas Entrepreneurial/Environmental Contest for a bicycle they created from plastic drink bottles. They are pictured with Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. (Photo by University Photographer Marie Freeman)

The students learned of their status as national award-winners from Mary Radomile, Google program manager, who notified them via Web conference held on campus. Joining in the surprise celebration were Appalachian’s Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock, representatives of competition sponsors AdvantageWest and DigitalChalk, and a cheering squad of friends, classmates, faculty and others.

In a letter presented to the winners, Radomile said, “We are thrilled to have you visit us at the ‘Googleplex’ in Mountain View, Calif., Feb. 18-20, 2009. During your visit, you’ll experience a full tour of our facilities, meet with innovators from within the company, and even have a chance to present your video to us. We are very proud to be a part of the Juicy Ideas competition.”

Appalachian’s Center for Entrepreneurship worked with AdvantageWest to organize the regional competition. Additional sponsors were American Green and Jute.

The competition was organized as a way to encourage entrepreneurship and communicate a message of environmental responsibility.

“This competition illustrates the collaborative relationship between our faculty, staff and students in the areas of sustainability, design and entrepreneurship,” said Kenneth E. Peacock, chancellor at Appalachian.  “These students, with their creativity and team work, are a reflection of the future of our nation. They are thinking globally and of ways they can impact the world.”

The team was among 14 finalists from colleges across the country. Each participating region had a different “throwaway” item from which students had 10 days to create something of value and upload a video of their project to YouTube for judging. The top three teams from each region advanced to the national competition. The team from Appalachian was the regional winner in Western North Carolina. Their winning video can be viewed at

A panel of judges evaluated the entries in terms of originality, creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation and environmental responsibility.

According to Dale Carroll, president and CEO of AdvantageWest, entrepreneurship continues to play a major role in the global economy and is increasingly important to the long-term health and growth of rural regions across America.

“As the economic development commission for the 23 counties of Western North Carolina, AdvantageWest continuously explores new and innovative paths to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship as part of its economic development strategy,” he said. “We believe one of the best ways to accomplish this is by encouraging the use of technology and stimulating creativity in the youth of the region – beginning in kindergarten and continuing through their post-secondary education.”