Winners named in NDSU student innovation competition

A new cancer therapy, a service to prevent children around the world from drowning, and hummus made from North Dakota products won their categories in North Dakota State University’s third annual student innovation competition.

Innovation Challenge ’14, sponsored by NDSU and the NDSU Research and Technology Park, showcases and encourages student innovation.

“The innovative ideas of the NDSU students are truly phenomenal,” said Chuck Hoge, interim executive director of the NDSU Research and Technology Park. “Innovation Challenge is an organized way for students to present their ideas, earn prize money and learn more about the process of turning ideas into commercial ventures.”

The competition began in October 2013, with 34 teams. Teams went through two rounds of judging to make it to the finals. The 20 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 March 6.

Product category winners

First place, $5,000: Team NewCure is developing a new therapeutic agent for neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that most commonly affects children and infants and needs more effective treatment. The new therapy targets cancer stem cells.

Team member:

  • Shuang Zhou, a graduate student in pharmaceutical sciences from Chifeng, China.

Zhou’s adviser is Erxi Wu, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences.

Second place, $1,000: Team Bio-Sports is working to create bio-based sports equipment, such as snowboards and hockey sticks, made from natural fibers, such as flax. Using bio-based materials would help reduce the carbon footprint of each piece manufactured.

Team members:

  • Mitch Nordahl, a senior mechanical engineering major from Elk River, Minn.
  • Emily Imdieke, a graduate student in mechanical engineering from Spicer, Minn.

Their adviser is Chad Ulven, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Third place, $500: Team WTM Ballistics is developing a ballistics simulation laser target that involves a laser in a bullet casing and a target that simulates the trajectory of a bullet. The tool is a safer and more cost-effective way for hunters to practice accuracy. The tool also could be used for police or military training.

Team members:

  • Mark Christiansen, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Bemidji, Minn.
  • Taylor Lee, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Buffalo, Minn.
  • Waylon Lindseth, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Bemidji, Minn.

Their adviser is Daniel Ewert, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Service category winners

First place, $5,000: Aqua Motion International provides free swimming lessons to children in high-risk drowning areas around the world.

Team members:

  • Jonathon McCarthy, a senior majoring in management from Coon Rapids, Minn.
  • Andrew Moe, a sophomore majoring in accounting from Pequot Lakes, Minn.

Their adviser is Paul Brown, senior lecturer in management and marketing.

Second place, $1,000: Students_4_Students is an application that allows students to exchange textbooks in an efficient and safe manner.

Team member:

  • Michael Graff, a senior finance and economics major from Luverne, Minn.

Graff’s adviser is Fred Riggins, associate professor of management information systems.

Third place, $500: ScoutHealth is a personal mobile health platform focused on prevention and early detection of cancer.

Team member:

  • Madison Christensen, a senior marketing major from Fargo

Christensen’s adviser is Jin Li, assistant professor of management and marketing.

Corn-innovation category winners

First place, $5,000: Hum-HealthyPlus developed a recipe for a more nutritious and cost-effective hummus that is gluten-free. The hummus is made from corn flour and lentils, which are both produced in North Dakota.

Team members:

  • Tyler Lewandowski, a senior majoring in zoology from Foley, Minn.
  • Dwight Anderson, a senior majoring in zoology from Hankinson, N.D.
  • Lukshman Ekanayake, a graduate student in cereal science from Kurunegala, Sri Lanka

Their adviser is Dilrukshi Thavarajah, assistant professor of cereal science.

Second place, $1,000: Healthy Cake Co. developed a lower-calorie cake that also promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestine. The recipe replaces regular flour with resistant starch from corn. It also can be adapted for people who want a gluten-free cake.

Team member:

  • Paul Fenlason, a graduate student in cereal science from Sartell, Minn.

Fenlason’s adviser is Pushparajah Thavarajah, assistant professor of food science

Third place, $500: 4D Food is developing a meal that can be easily produced with the aid of a 3-D printer and is palatable, nutritionally customizable and affordable. The new product uses corn-based distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol production, to add texture, and Soylent, a powdered food substitute that claims to provide all the nutrients the human body needs.

Team members:

  • Mariana Lopez Jaimez, a senior majoring in computer engineering from Toluca, Mexico
  • Zach Triplett, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering from Bismarck, N.D.

Their adviser is Mark Schroeder, assistant professor of practice in electrical and computer engineering.

People’s Choice Award winner, $1,000: Team NewCure, also the first-place winner in the product category.

The student innovation competition was part of the fifth annual Innovation Week, March 3-7. The purpose of Innovation Week 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

NDSU is a student-focused, land-grant, research university listed among the top 108 research universities in the nation by the Carnegie Foundation.

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.

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