May 5, 2014 - 12:00am
“A supportive culture of innovation exists at MIIS,” says Professor Jeffrey Langholz of the International Environmental Policy program, who this weekend won the main prize of $50,000 and title of Innovator of the Year at the Monterey Bay Startup Challenge along with graduate student Maeve Murphy (MBA/MAIEP ’15). Their idea is called Water City and it helps make water conservation easy and profitable for the public.
Freshwater issues are a passion for Maeve, who is working on a joint degree in business administration and environmental policy. “This is why I came to MIIS,” she says happily, explaining that she has long been bothered by the inefficiencies in the way we handle freshwater. Professor Langholz is also passionate about water issues, and when his colleague Kent Glenzer founded the recent Monterey Institute Community Innovation Challenge for students with a challenge focused on water issues, Jeff started thinking actively of solutions.
When Maeve made an appointment with Professor Langholz in February to discuss career options, he shared his water ideas and they decided to combine their strengths. For Maeve, the challenge came at a perfect time. “It was a real-world situation in which I could apply my education thus far to an idea that I am passionate about. There were countless times I would be in class and would realize that what we were learning that moment I could apply to the Water City project and would pull open my notes or financial spreadsheet and start adjusting immediately.” Smiling wryly, Langholz says,”MIIS faculty are in the business of making students’ dreams come true.”
When MIIS faculty and students put their heads together, the rest of the world benefits. But these two do not want to take all the credit for their success so far. “This may have looked like a single student and a single professor,” says Langholz, ”but more than 40 people on campus supported the effort – that's how it works at MIIS!”