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WMU Seeks "Big Ideas" In New Competition

Andy Robins

Western Michigan University is accepting applications in cooperation with the National Science Foundation to bring the first "Bronco Big Idea" competition to campus.

Both WMU and NSF are seeking unique ideas in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. WMU Vice-President for Research Terri Goss Kinzy says it's an opportunity people to share their best ideas.

“What we’re asking people to do is submit ideas for the future of big questions," Kinzy says, "So we can help to promote new ideas.”

In addition to WMU students, faculty, and staff, high school and community college students in Michigan are also welcome to apply for the chance to win scholarships and research grants. People who considering enrolling at WMU are also eligible.

Credit Kim Nelson / WMU Office of Marketing & Strategic Communications
WMU Office of Marketing & Strategic Communications

To be eligible, applicants must first submit their materials to the NSF. Then they must download a PDF copy of the completed application and email it.

“They’re looking for the "big idea." You don’t need a lot of detail. It’s really about a big question that needs to be answered,” Kinzy says.

If a student or incoming student applies through WMU takes home NSF’s top prize of $26,000, Western will award them a scholarship of $26,000. That brings the total award to $52,000. If no WMU students become national finalists, an internal competition will be held. Faculty and staff will compete for research grants.

Kinzy says more than 800 people have registered for the competition nationally, and over 500 have submitted applications.

“Those are pretty good odds when you think about the fact that there’s going to be 30 finalists in the first round,” Kinzy says.

Kinzy encourages applicants to think outside the box of traditional science and math.

“It’s not just test tubes and people making widgets. If you look at some of the big ideas when they did this the first time, one was about the 'Data Revolution.' That impacts everyone, right? It’s about the rules of life, it can be very inclusive,” Kinzy said.

For those interested in impacting the future of science in the U.S., an application for the Bronco Big Idea competition can be found here.

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