February 19, 2006
The Engineering School at the University of Wisconsin in Madison recently held Innovation Days, a contest for undergraduate students where they vie for prizes based on their prototype inventions and design notebooks. The contest attracts over 50 students each year and thousands of dollars in prize money is awarded.
Contests like this one encourage creativity and the competitive business of engineering design. Take for instance students like Angie Franzke, a senior majoring in Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics. Franzke took home the Schoof’s Prize for Creativity and the Tong’s Prototype Design for her Concentrated Solar Collector. The device collects solar energy and focuses it on a copper block. This concentrated energy can create steam to run a turbine and generate electric currents.
These young people are the future of American innovation. They have the unconstrained imaginations of college students, combined with the technological know-how of top-notch engineering students.
Events like Innovation Days should be held at schools across the country. These contests could also be held across other majors and concentrations. Projects like this field innovation and students who participate are more creative and forward thinking. In fact, BrainReactions CEO Anand Chhatpar was an Innovation Days participant during his undergraduate career.
Now, the BrainReactions team looks at contests like Innovation Days to find the best brainstormers and idea makers. If these students have the foresight to design these groundbreaking technologies, think of what they can do for improving or creating products and services for established companies? The possibilities are endless, just like the pool of talent at colleges and universities.