Friday, October 19, 2012

Meet the Teams

Four teams pitched their ideas on Oct. 5 to our panel of judges in the MNE Innovation Competition. The teams were required to have at least one mechanical engineering undergraduate student, but other members of the team could be from any major--making this a true interdisciplinary effort!

Vertical Greenhouse

The first team to present (pictured at left) proposed a vertical greenhouse that will allow small-footprint organic agricultural production. Team members are Jared Yarnall-Schane (mechanical engineering), Dustin Betz (biology), Mike Ghen (computer engineering), Michael Zaengle (architecture), Jonathan Gumble (landscape contracting), and Kenneth Palamara (environmental engineering).

Modular Robotics Kit

The second team proposed to create a reconfigurable modular robotics kit to introduce the concept of robotics to middle school, high school and college students, thereby generating interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Team members include Randy Schur, Peter Heibert, and Chris Dickson, all mechanical engineering seniors.

Interactive Hand Device

The third team proposed an interactive device for the hand that would facilitate physical communication and interaction with the technologies around us, like computers and television. It would also have applications in robotics technologies. Team members include Zack Francis, a senior mechanical engineering major, and Eli Knebel, a senior computer engineering major.

Robotic Hand

Geoffrey Andrews was the last presenter, and he proposed an idea to produce a low-cost, lightweight robotic hand using stereolithography with potential applications in prosthesis development. Andrews is a sophomore mechanical engineering major.

The MNE Innovation Competition

Welcome to the blog following the first MNE Innovation Competition. The competition was made possible by the generous donation of an anonymous mechanical engineering alum who wanted to support the encouragement of innovation and entrepreneurship among our students.

The competition was announced in early September, giving students a few weeks to gather their teams and draw up a proposal for submission on the MNE Innovation Competition website. Four registered teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges on Friday, Oct. 5. Judging mimicked the popular Shark TankTM television program on ABC.

Judges for the panel included Dr. Marty Trethewey, the Arthur L. Glenn Professor of Mechanical Engineering and professor-in-charge of the MNE undergraduate programs; Dr. Hosam Fathy, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Elizabeth Kisenwether, assistant professor in the school of engineering design and the co-director of Lion Launch Pad and the new university-wide Entrepreneurship minor; and mechanical engineering alumnus Raymond Stevens (B.S. ME '88, MBA '97), founder and head of operations at AltheRx Pharmaceuticals.

"The MNE Innovation Competition was a great opportunity for us to encourage innovation in our undergraduate students while also being innovative in how students presented their ideas. The students did a great job, and the judges were supportive yet willing to ask the tough questions."
--Dr. Timothy Simpson, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering and one of the Innovation Competition coordinators

Look for upcoming posts with more information on the judges and the participating teams!

Learn more about the MNE Innovation Competition at our website.