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Students work to improve LimeBike experience in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --

The old Studebaker building represents years of innovation. Now the old place of industry, is hosting the industrial minds of the future.

Local students spent Tuesday pitching business ideas to help LimeBike improve its service in South Bend.

This was the final step in the 2018 LimeBike Innovation Challenge.

“Most of the students found things that they perceived as a problem and trid to come up with a way to make it faster, cheaper and a little more productive for LimeBike," said Josia Parker, STEM academy leader at Penn High School.

There were 72 teams in the challenge when it started. Only ten teams made up of students from Penn Harris Madison, Mishawaka and Riley High Schools made it to the final round.

In the final round, the teams pitched business ideas to leaders from LimeBike, the bike-sharing company that just came to South Bend last year.

"They are trying to do whatever they can to help us be a little bit more efficient when it comes to working on our bicycles," said Nathan Hasse, operations manager for LimeBike in South Bend.

He said he was blown away by the students and the ideas they came up with.

The ideas varied from organization to new and easier ways LimeBike employees could repair their bikes.

"I just did it to help the people at LimeBike,” said Austin Waech, a student at Penn High School who participated in the challenge. “I really care about engineering in the fact of helping people be better at life."

Waech presented his team's idea without his teammates by his side. Still, he took first place in the challenge for his bike lift prototype.

"It’s basically a hydraulic lift that has a specified clamping system to connect to the bike," said Waech.

That idea seemed like one of the most practical to LimeBike.

"I think that one would take the least amount of stress on the worker to lift the bike, as well as using the foot pedal to lift it even higher would definitely make it a lot easier on our employees to work on them," said Hasse.

And winning the challenge means winning a paid internship this summer with The Sibley Center.

The internship will allow Waech and his team to expand on the design.

Waech says he’s excited for this step forward, as he plans to pursue a career in engineering.

"I honestly really like the idea of what's happening here. If possible I'd really love to come here and work at some point," he said.

And for the teachers, keeping students in the area is what they want to see come out of experiences like this.

"So if they do go to college, they'll remember the experiences, the fun times they had here, the things that are available to them, and they'll come back," said Parker.

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