Oct. 5, 2020

Students win People’s Choice Award at innovation competition


A team of NDSU engineering and architecture students won the $500 People’s Choice Award at the Disruptive Innovation Challenge held Sept. 29 in Bismarck, North Dakota. The event was sponsored by DisruptWell.

A disruptive innovation is a product or service that disrupts the current market in ways that are not expected. The team’s project, Bio-Shield Roofing Systems, certainly meets that description.

Bio-Shield shingles 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. The project, an eco-friendly option to asphalt shingles, originated with the research of Chad Ulven, professor of mechanical engineering and the project’s faculty adviser.

The Bio-Shield team includes junior Laura Friedmann, a mechanical engineering major from Mendota Heights, Minnesota, and architecture majors Katie Kent and Andrew Wangler.

"Our experiences at the DisruptWell Summit have provided insight into ways we can further develop our product,” the students said. “The panel had incredibly constructive feedback and remained excited about the potential of Bio-Shield to continue to disrupt the construction materials industry. Moving forward, we hope to continually improve our design and finalize our business intent to take that next step from concept and prototype to a viable product and start-up company. We know that Bio-Shield has what it takes to make an impact, and we will utilize what we have learned from this experience and apply it to benefit the future of our product."

During the competition, the team had earlier won a professionally-produced video about their innovation, and team members presented their idea to a group of potential investors on Sept. 28.

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