LAKELAND, Fla. – Florida Polytechnic University is spurring innovation as the organizer and host of an invention competition, similar to the reality show “Shark Tank.”
Nine student teams from Florida Polytechnic’s College of Engineering showcased their inventions to a panel of industry experts on Thursday, but only the top three teams won the grand prize – entrepreneurial support from the University, including a provisional patent filing.
“I am incredibly proud of our students. They’ve developed competitive, viable concepts that address contemporary technological needs,” said University President Dr. Randy K. Avent. “This competition exemplifies Florida Polytechnic’s core mission of bringing real-world problem-solving to the classroom.”
The engineering industry review panel event is the culmination of a semester-long project that began with 52 teams vying for an opportunity to present their inventions.
During the last four months, student teams have compiled responses to one of four fictional RFP’s (Requests for Proposals). Those RFP’s included the creation of a noise reduction system for loud, open-concept offices; the development of building materials that allow for better Wi-Fi transmission; and devising a wearable energy-harvesting technology for backpackers.
The top nine teams were allowed 10 minutes each to pitch their invention to the panel of experts. The students then defended their ideas during questioning by panel members, which included three technologists and two intellectual property attorneys.
“We’re freshmen in college. We’re 18 years old, and we already have the potential to earn a patent. That’s really cool,” said Aubury Erickson, 18, a freshman majoring in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering with an emphasis in Nanotechnology.
Erickson and her teammates Jeffrey DuBois, 18, a Computer Science major, and Cory Chambers, 18, a Computer Engineering major, were among the winners with their proposal for an energy-harvesting hiking boot.
Florida Polytechnic faculty will now support the three winning teams by helping them develop the entrepreneurial aspects of their ideas, including preparation for provisional patent filing, and advice on how to find investment capital.
“The goal of this competition is to educate and prepare students for the actual processes involved with bringing a novel idea to market,” said College of Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Christina Drake. “This exercise showed students that they have great ideas that they can develop now – even before they’ve taken all of their physics and math classes.”
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