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One of the great things about being in Viterbi organizations is that sometimes they do collab events: where members of both groups come together and work on projects, talk to recruiters, and just have a good time. Last Friday, NSBE (the National Society of Black Engineers) and USC LavaLab (one of USC’s main entrepreneurship organizations) had a joint event all about sustainability.

The competition was fairly straightforward: USC is working towards being more sustainable in 6 key areas; transportation, waste, water, renewable energy, carbon emissions, and the 2028 Olympic games. Our task was to pitch an idea that would help USC achieve its goals in one of these 6 categories.

Broken up into 4 teams of 4, we each had an hour to brainstorm, flesh out the idea, and come up with a convincing pitch for our judges (the dean of the entrepreneurial studies department and a 3x startup founder) with a $50 Amazon gift cards on the line. The stakes aren’t that high (obviously) but there’s still that part in all of us that wants to win, so my team got to work.

Our idea was to focus on the transportation category and reimagine all the parking spots that USC has over campus. In a nutshell, our idea was to reduce the number of gas-powered car parking spots and replace them with food vendors from the local community. Similar to the farmers market we have every Wednesday, these vendors would help increase student engagement and would focus on reducing food waste otherwise found from other businesses. Additionally, we wanted to expand the Fryft program (that currently gives students a free Lyft ride within a 2-mile radius from campus) to Lyft scooters so students wouldn’t use cars so much.

I got to pitch the idea (and it was my first pitch ever)! My team didn’t win (though the team that won is actually serious about implementing their plan for sustainability for the Olympics), though we all received Uber Eats gift cards from the Grief center for Entrepreneurial studies! It was a great event overall and gave me an insight into a little bit of what LavaLab does (and convince me to apply again next semester).

Timothy Harrington