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Student proposing ‘seizure patch’ wins college's fourth annual Big Idea contest

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Apr 19, 2019

A College of Lake County student’s idea of an adhesive patch, which detects seizures from epilepsy and other conditions, won $1,000 and first place at CLC’s fourth annual Big Idea contest held April 15 at the Grayslake Campus.

Mikaela Cleveland, a biomedical engineering major, presented her idea before a panel of five judges in a format similar to ABC-TV’s popular “Shark Tank” program. Cleveland, a Winthrop Harbor resident, said she came up with the idea after thinking about service dogs that can detect seizures. “I thought, if a dogPhoto of Big Idea contest winners can predict a seizure, surely we can invent a device that does the same thing,” she said.

Students were given a deadline of March 17 to submit a two- to three-minute video summarizing their idea to solve a problem, harness an opportunity or change the world. At the April 15 contest, each of the five finalists was allowed four minutes to pitch their idea, followed by a four-minute Q & A session. From the five, the panel decided on the top three finishers.

Photo (from left): The top finishers in CLC's 2019 Big Idea contest were: Scott Stetz (second place; change app); Mikaela Cleveland (first place; seizure patch); and Emma Uren (third place; tutoring and language-learning platform).

Patty Clark, a former McDonald’s marketing executive who currently is a CLC business professor and main organizer of the Big Idea contest, said, “Mikaela’s idea took first place because she was passionate about making a difference for those affected by the life-altering condition of seizures.”

Finishing second in the contest, for a $500 prize, was Scott Stetz, a business administration major who proposed Change App, a smartphone app that manages change received from cash purchases at retail stores. “Instead of the cashier giving you coins back, the change gets loaded into the app,” said Stetz, a Crystal Lake resident. “Over time you can see how much change you accumulate and save.”

The third-place winner, for a $250 prize, was Emma Uren, a Gurnee resident planning on transferring to Northern Michigan University and majoring in entrepreneurship. Her product, “Doodles to Da Vinci,” is a tutoring and language-learning platform staffed by people doing full-time non-profit work in Central America.

With plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fall, Cleveland said she was “thrilled” to win the contest and build her portfolio. “CLC is a pretty incredible school to have events like this, which encourage creativity and entrepreneurial thinking,” she said. “The college has prepared me well for a four-year university.”

Kathleen Wood and Sue Tierno, co-owners of Suzy's Swirl Company, a Lake Bluff-based frozen yogurt/treat shop, have been sponsoring the Big Idea since 2016. “Each of the finalists’ ideas was extraordinary and well-thought-out,” Wood said. “Any one of them could become a reality. We are just thrilled to be a part of the CLC community. America was founded on innovation, it’s in our DNA to innovate and create new things. The highest risk you can take is taking no risk at all.”

Besides Wood and Tierno, other panelists included a patent attorney and members of the college’s business administration advisory committee. Other panelists included a representative from The Hub, an entrepreneurial support program of the nonprofit Greater Waukegan Development Coalition, and a representative from CLC’s Small Business Development Center representative. Event collaborators included students from CLC’s Entrepreneurship (BUS 131) course, the college’s student Business Club and CLC’s Baxter Innovation Lab.  

For details on CLC’s Small Business Development & International Trade Center, visit

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About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is an innovative community college in Lake County, Ill. that transforms lives with its variety of accessible, quality education options. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, College of Lake County provides affordable options in a state-of-the-art setting close to home. A large student network, with small class sizes, provides advantages to our students on a career-related program or a path toward a transfer degree. We’re proud to serve the diverse needs of our community and student body. Connect to your future today at College of Lake County.