How the Lab helped a South Bend resident bring her idea to life!

Author: Emily Tyson

Sarah Bilinski And Her Sons

Sarah McCloughen was on a walk with her young son and noticed neighbors’ trash cans blown over and the contents blowing everywhere. Her son commented on the scene and “how bad this was for the environment.” McCloughen and her children got to thinking about creating a solution to this small but important and prevalent problem.

Her cousin recommended the IDEA Center’s Innovation Lab to her. 

The product she had in mind is designed to make a more eco-friendly trash can. “I tried to create a prototype on my own, but I don’t have an engineering degree so I didn’t exactly know how to go about it. The Lab helped me create it and helped me figure out how to test it.” 

McCloughen credits the Lab’s director, Matt Leevy, with helping her identify and choose the best material to use for her product, “something sustainable and environmentally-friendly.”

She has been working with an attorney and has a patent on the prototype.

“I am so thankful for the IDEA Center,” says McCloughen. “I was kind of clueless, I had this idea and the Lab is helping me so much! They gave me the knowledge to make a tangible product, to make an idea into reality. I think they are such a helpful service to the community.”