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NDSU student team wins Disruptive Innovation Challenge

A team of NDSU engineering and architecture students is a winner in the Disruptive Innovation Challenge sponsored by DisruptWell. A disruptive innovation is described as a product or service that disrupts the current market in ways that are not expected.

Junior Laura Friedmann, a mechanical engineering major from Mendota Heights, Minnesota, is the team leader. Other team members include architecture majors Katie Kent and Andrew Wangler.

The team’s project is called Bio-Shield Roofing Systems. Shingles for houses are made from biomass, using natural fibers to create composite roofing material. Flax and hemp fibers are coated with an epoxy resin to form the shingles.

“Every year 11 million tons of asphalt shingles end up in landfills. This was a problem that our team identified and wanted to solve. Our idea is to replace the use of asphalt with an eco-friendly option that does not sacrifice any performance characteristics,” Friedmann said, noting the project originated with the research of Chad Ulven, professor of mechanical engineering and the project’s faculty adviser.

“This competition provides us a resource to have a professional promotional video made about our product. This is a great resource we can use when we present for grants, investors and other competitions. In addition to that we get to practice presenting our pitch in front of investors,” Friedmann said. “Our team is interested in entrepreneurship because it is exciting to be able to take an idea and make it a reality. It is a challenge that pushes all three of our boundaries to grow individually and as a team. Entrepreneurship truly gives the individual the power to make an impact on society.”

Friedmann’s team won a 90- to 120-second professionally-produced video about the innovation. The video which will be shown twice during the fourth annual DisruptWell Summit, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29, in Bismarck, North Dakota.

The team is set to present the product idea to a group of potential investors on Monday, Sept. 28, at the IDEA Center in Bismarck. The project also will be entered into the People’s Choice Award competition that is decided by popular vote during the summit. The People’s Choice Award includes a $500 prize.

The team learned of the competition through NDSU’s Nice Center, led by Scott Meyer, Ozbun Executive Director of Entrepreneurship.

“Laura, Katie and Andrew are perfect examples of the interdisciplinary entrepreneurial ecosystem we are trying to build at NDSU,” Meyer said. “They identified a problem, talked with potential customers and built a solution that leverages their unique skills. We are proud to support them now and as they continue pursuing their project.”

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