Interdisciplinary Student Team To Travel to International Competition in Brazil

Thirteen cross-disciplinary teams presented in the Kent State competition for Mission:Life on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. The winning team, Virtual Harmony, will be presenting their concept in the international competition at the PUCPR University in Brazil on November 11. Virtual Harmony is a novel concept for a music therapy interface utilizing virtual reality. The team is made up of three Kent State students: Alena Miskinis, undergraduate student in Music and English, Xiangxu “Shawn” Lin, a graduate student in Computer Science, and Shadi Kanan, graduate student in the College of Nursing. 

Mission:Life engages undergraduate, graduate and professional students from different disciplines in the development of innovative designs, ideas, tools, resources and/or services that address topics that change each year.  The 2019 theme of this multi-institution competition was Mental Health in the 21st Century. The Design Innovation Initiative, LaunchNET and College of Arts and Sciences collaboratively sponsored the Kent State event, which is an international, interdisciplinary competition to address complex global issues while fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. Mission:Life originated in 2012 at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica Do Parana (PUCPR), located in Curitiba (in the southern part of Brazil) and grew to include partnerships with both the University of Incarnate Word (San Antonio, Texas) and Kent State University in 2016.

Dr. ing. Edgar E. Kooijman, Director of the Biotechnology program and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, has advised the Kent State teams for Mission:Life since 2016, when he was a key player in bringing the competition to Kent State. J.R. Campbell, executive director of the Design Innovation Initiative, also advised and coordinated the local competition. Campbell was pleased with the ability to help put together a truly interdisciplinary team: “I am excited that our winning team from the Kent State level of the competition was initiated by Alena Miskinis, who as a double-major in Music and English, represents both the College of the Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences.  Alena had a novel idea, and we helped her connect with her teammates - Shawn from Computer Science and Shadi from Nursing. They worked together to create a compelling solution to address the mental health challenges related to anxiety and stress.”

LaunchNET advisors coached many of the student teams as they prepared their presentations for the local competition, helping them see their ideas through the lens of a sustainable model as well as tips for putting together a compelling presentation. “It was great to see the teams that worked with us do powerful presentations that addressed the topic in innovative and dynamic ways,” said Tabitha Messmore, a LaunchNET venture advisor. 

The other teams who placed in the local competition were: 

1st runner up:

Team: Mind frame

  • Amy Cox, Geology and Environmental Studies
  • Audrey Thomas, fashion design
  • Khalil Thompson, digital media production

2nd runner up:

Team: WellMinded

  • Hannah Guidosh, Biotechnology
  • Maria Klingensmith, Integrative Studies
  • Christina Peyton Laurie, Chemistry
  • Dmitry Klingensmith (non-student consultant)

3rd runner up:

Team: Mental Health First Aid

  • Julia Puhalla, Managerial Marketing
  • Emma Ward, Speech Pathology and Audiology
  • Kameron Brown, Managerial Marketing

For more information about Mission:Life 2019, contact JR Campbell, Design Innovation Initiative (, and/or Dr. ing. Edgar E. Kooijman, Biotechnology ( 

Kent State Mission: Life 2019

POSTED: Monday, October 21, 2019 - 4:59pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 11:47am