IDEAS Academy Activities 2019-20

Alief Early College High School | HCC LSAMP

quote-white  "Our throwaway lifestyle is not sustainable – how can we rethink, reimagine, & remake it?" HCC Plastic Planet Remix Challenge

About This Year's Challenge

In 2019-20, the West Houston Institute invited HCC students, faculty, and staff to create innovative solutions to address the complex problems that are caused by single use plastic and the throwaway lifestyle it has helped create. Students were challenged to use the latest scientific research, cutting edge technologies, and insights across fields and industries to remix the way we live, work, and play to make it more sustainable for all of us today and for future generations:

  • Create recyclable systems that work
  • Design reusable materials that retain their value over time
  • Utilize renewable resources to power all our activities
  • Develop a regenerative economy that sustains itself
Alief Early College High School

Alief Early College students began their cohort in Fall 2019 and immediately started to develop a coherent concept for their project that recognized the entrepreneurial opportunity in reinvinting the plastic waste cycle as a plastic materials re-use cycle. They developed a brand around what they called the "Inifinicycle" process and conducted surveys in early Spring to develop the most promising product ideas that they believed could be made from upcycled materials. They also developed creative bins that they had CNC cut and assembled in IDEAStudio and then painted themselves in different themed murals with laser cut silhouettes fixed to them for added effect.

When the pandemic hit, much of the momentum was lost on their project since it was so dependent on the many activities that were restricted with campus closed and the world in lockdown. However, their bins did get used as PPE drop off stations on campus during local donation efforts. It is anticipated that once the campuses fully re-open, this project will be picked back up by a future cohort to continue the work.

Faculty Facilitator
  • Jordan Carswell, Program Director, IDEAS Academy
LSAMP Community of Experience

Spring 2020 marked the inaugural year of the IDEAS Academy experience being offered to HCC students through a collaboration with the HCC LSAMP chapter. Called the "Community of Experience" STEM majors were given the same opportunity as their Early College peers to take on the Plastic Planet Challenge through project work support by four college faculty.

Beginning in February, students were divided into teams based on their expressed areas of interest. Faculty leads worked with their teams to develop original concepts from early areas of interest within the challenge. The combination of future engineers, health and life sciences, and computer science students quickly showed its promise in creating intersectional projects that cut across the arts and sciences to address the challenge. When the pandemic hit, these teams were able to continue to meet online and develop their ideas into proposals which they presented at the end of the semester. See the student created website below for a summary of all submitted proposals.

Faculty Facilitators
  • Robert Frederick, Faculty, Computer Science
  • Dr. Yokabet Gedeon, Faculty, Chemistry
  • Robin Nagy, Faculty, Environmental Science Faculty
  • Dr. Jing Sun, Faculty, Chemistry


Visit the "Plastic Remix" Student Website Combined Shape Created with Sketch.



IDEAS Academy

Jordan Carswell

West Houston Institute

2811 Hayes Rd., Houston, TX 77082