An unmanned aircraft system with improved flight characteristics, a website that helps people stay connected to their communities, and a mechanical way to reduce weed pressure won their categories in North Dakota State University’s annual student innovation competition.
Innovation Challenge ’15, sponsored by NDSU and the NDSU Research and Technology Park, showcases and encourages student innovation.
“A good idea is the precursor to starting a business, and students have tremendous ideas,” said Chuck Hoge, interim executive director of the NDSU Research and Technology Park. “Innovation Challenge is a way for students to develop their ideas into well thought-out concepts and to build skills and confidence. It also helps diversify our economy and develop leaders.”
The competition began in fall 2014, with 32 teams. Teams went through two rounds of judging to make it to the finals. The 23 finalists went through a third round of judging, which involved a 10-minute oral presentation that was open to the public. The competition included three categories: products, services and corn-based innovations. Winners were announced at an awards ceremony on Feb. 26.
Product category winners
First place, $5,000: Team SkyHawk. Their innovation is a multi-axial rotor actuation unmanned aircraft system that has improved flight characteristics, such as more speed, less drag, greater range and better maneuverability.
- Alexander Sinclair, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from Morris, Minnesota
- Scott Wheeler, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from Burnsville, Minnesota
- Aaron Perry, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from Roseville, Minnesota
- Jake Patton, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Marble, Minnesota
- Wyatt Dick, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering from Munich, North Dakota
Their adviser is Robert Pieri, professor of mechanical engineering at NDSU.
Second place, $1,000: Team Clothes Hanger Reinvented. The team’s innovation is a redesigned clothes hanger that uses a system of geometric forms. The forms can be taken apart and put together into different configurations to accommodate different types and sizes of clothing as well as accessories, such as shoes, belts and scarves.
- Amber Grindeland, a graduate student in architecture from Hatton, North Dakota
- Caet Fox, a graduate student in architecture from Edgeley, North Dakota
Their adviser is Cindy Urness, program director for architecture at NDSU.
Third place, $500: Team ToxoSafe. Their innovation is what the team describes as a smart anti-cancer drug carrier that targets tumors and protects healthy tissue from toxicity.
- Prajakta Kulkarni, a graduate student in pharmaceutical sciences from Pune, India
- Gaurav Patwardhan, a graduate student in business from Pune, India
Their adviser is Sanku Mallik, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at NDSU.
Service category winners
First place, $5,000: Team Townnected. The team’s innovation is a website,www.townnected.com, that allows people to post and view news about their town as well as news from other towns they care about.
- Wyatt Mund, a freshman majoring in marketing from Milnor, North Dakota
- Landon Mund, a sophomore majoring in agricultural economics from Milnor, North Dakota
- Andrew Martinson, a freshman majoring in agricultural economics from Milnor, North Dakota
Their adviser is Joan Krush, lecturer in computer science.
Second place, $1,000: Team Fruition. The innovation is a mobile app that encourages people to be grateful, to capture gratitude as they experience it and to reflect on it later. The goal is improved quality of life, focus and overall happiness.
- Jan Piskacek, a master of business administration student from the Czech Republic
The adviser is Sukumarakurup Krishnakumar, assistant professor of management and marketing at NDSU.
Third place, $500: Team App EZ. The innovation is a mobile app that allows users to focus on deep breathing exercises.
- Abdelrahman Magid, a senior majoring in university studies from Oakland, California
His adviser is Carolyn Schnell, associate dean of university studies at NDSU.
Corn-innovation category winners
First place, $5,000: Team A Displaced Farmer. The innovation is a modified rotary hammer mill to be mounted in the rear of a combine. The mill pulverizes weed seed to reduce weed pressure and volunteer crop regrowth the following year. After passing through the mill, the chaff and pulverized seed pass to the chaff spreaders and are put back into the field. This results in benefits for farmers, including improved soil quality, reduced need for herbicides and reduced input costs.
- Paul Subart, a junior majoring in crop and weed science from Robinson, North Dakota
His adviser is Marisol Berti, associate professor of plant science.
Second place, $1,000: Team Tea Time. The innovation is an alternative to commercial pesticides that uses green tea.
- Dre Steinwehr, a sophomore majoring in microbiology from Hankinson, North Dakota
His adviser is Janice Haggart, instructor in veterinary and biological sciences at NDSU.
Third place, $500: Team Color with Corn. Their innovation uses a corn byproduct as an alternative, low-cost way to color and add nutrients to butter.
- Joseph Kallenback, a graduate student in cereal science from Dickinson, North Dakota
- Cassandra Hillen, a graduate student in cereal science from Fargo, North Dakota
Their adviser is Clifford Hall, associate professor of food science at NDSU.
People’s Choice Award winner, $1,000: Team Liu Group. Their innovation called THE MAMMOSTRIP is described by the team as a lateral flow biosensor tool, opening the possibility to quickly and effectively detect disease biomarkers such as those found in breast cancer.
- Sunitha Takalkar, a graduate student in analytical chemistry from Hyderabad, India
- Kwaku Baryeh, a graduate student in analytical chemistry from Jamasi, Ghana
Their adviser is Guodong Liu, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at NDSU.
The purpose of Innovation Challenge is to:
- Encourage students to be innovative thinkers
- Enhance student awareness for innovation as a precursor to entrepreneurship
- Empower students to pursue entrepreneurship as a career choice
- Expand student access to resources available for innovators and entrepreneurs
- Engage the current entrepreneur and business communities with students
The NDSU Research and Technology Park and Technology Incubator are home to fast-paced, high-growth companies that promote technology-based economic development in North Dakota. The companies compete globally or have the potential to. To operate within the park or Technology Incubator, a company needs to be involved in the advancement and development of new technology and be willing to establish a working relationship with NDSU. The companies work in the fields of material sciences, biosciences and life science technology, information technology, nanotechnology, and advanced manufacturing and sensors/micro-electronics.
Sponsors for the Innovation Challenge event include: Appareo Systems, Bank of North Dakota, Bell State Bank, Choice Financial Group, Dakota Medical Foundation, Dawson Insurance, Doosan and Bobcat Company, Eide Bailly, Eventis, Flint Communications, Gate City Bank, Goldmark Schlossman Commercial Real Estate Services, Inc., Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, Heyer Engineering, Indigo Signworks, Intercept Corporation, Money Farm, Moore Engineering, Myriad Mobile, ND EPSCoR, NDSU Office for Research and Creative Activity, Nodak Mutual Insurance Company, North Dakota Corn Growers Association, NDSU, ONSHARP, Keith and Cathy Peltier, Rick Electric, Inc., Jim and Sandra Roers, S & S Promotions, Sanford Health, Schluchter Investment Advisors, US Bank, Wells Fargo, Western State Bank and Xcel Energy.
As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, NDSU serves its citizens.