Los Angeles-Based Production Company The Red Door Films and Kent State Announce Student Design Challenge Competition

Students to create toy universe around WWII female aviators as part of SkyHack hackathon event

Kent State University and The Red Door Films of Los Angeles announce “Play with a Purpose,” a sponsor challenge as part of the SkyHack 3.0 competition at Kent State to be held Nov. 5-7. Teams of students will create an interactive toy universe based on the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II and their training base, Avenger Field. “Play with a Purpose” will be one of five competition streams at this year’s SkyHack. Hosted by Kent State’s Design Innovation, LaunchNET and College of Aeronautics and Engineering, this design-challenge event invites students to compete in cross-disciplinary teams to address current problems facing the aviation industry. “Play with a Purpose” is aimed at inspiring future growth in diversity of pilots and addressing the shortage of pilots by encouraging women and underrepresented individuals to consider futures in aviation. 

Hosted at Kent State and powered by Burton D. Morgan Foundation, this year’s event will feature Red Door Films founder and Oscar-nominated director Matia Karrell, who is directing and producing the first feature-length documentary about the Women Airforce Service Pilots with Oscar-nominated writer Sharon Wood and her award-winning team, including Molly Merryman, Ph.D., associate professor in Kent State’s School of Peace and Conflict Studies and founding director of the Kent State’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. 

“I made a promise to the women in my film and their families that I would do whatever it takes to tell their story,” Karrell said. “Creating a WASP action figure that little girls and boys play with goes hand in hand with the educational component of the film.”

Over the course of the weekend, students establish interdisciplinary teams, develop ideas, produce prototypes, work with mentors and pitch ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win financial awards. The large-scale event will host more than 120 student participants from universities, including Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) and Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited programs across the nation.

“We are incredibly excited to have this unique challenge for students to tackle as part of SkyHack this year,” said J.R. Campbell, executive director of Kent State’s Design Innovation Initiative. “The ‘Play with a Purpose’ challenge helps address a truly important future for aviation that can take inspiration from the incredible women in WASP during World War II.”

“Play with a Purpose” is part of a larger initiative between The Red Door Films and Kent State called Pathways to Flight, an education, outreach and mentorship program to encourage women and underrepresented groups into the aerospace sector. SkyHack is the nation’s first collegiate hackathon focused on the challenges facing the aviation industry.

To learn more or to get involved with SkyHack, go to www.skyhackksu.com.

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Media Contact:
J.R. Campbell, jrcamp@kent.edu, 330-672-0192

POSTED: Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - 11:33am
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - 12:39pm