Announcing ​the Winners: Innovation ​Challenge

Three teams in each category took home a cash prize

The 10th annual Innovation Challenge brought out students from many academic disciplines. Since January, students have been preparing and presenting their ideas as they competed for cash prizes.

The final presentations were given March 28, and the awards ceremony for the winners took place April 2. 

The first-place winners of the social impact track were Myles Duval, Ryder Belgarde, Peyton Beehler and Samuel Beatty. 

The members’ main focus was to reduce carbon emissions by incorporating wind energy into urban environments. They crafted a wind turbine that has a new design, allowing for the turbines to be placed within urban areas.

“We designed it to be omnidirectional and versatile, capable of being mounted on the sides and tops of buildings, allowing it to be integrated into urban environments,” Beatty said. “We wanted to find a way to reduce areas like Fargo’s reliance on fossil fuels, and after finding that solar panels aren’t viable in areas like this, we started looking for alternatives. We noticed that several areas around campus receive large amounts of wind and thought that small localized wind turbines could be the answer.” 

Accepting the flaws in their design and fixing them was one of the challenges the four students faced along the way.

“I will probably compete in the Innovation Challenge again, although I don’t have any specific projects in mind at the moment,” Beatty said.

“I also may enter again. Either with an upgraded turbine or another innovative idea,” Duval said.

The team said they believe that the Innovation Challenge will help them succeed in the future in their engineering career paths. “The Innovation Challenge was good practice for working in groups to find a solution to a problem, something incredibly common in engineering,” Beatty said.

The first-place winner of the graduate research track was Logeeshan Velmanickam, who worked on a technique that can be used to detect cancer early using DNA as a biomarker.

Velmanickam made sure to mention Dharmakeerthi Nawarathna, an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering. Nawarathna helped him with his research. Together they faced the challenge of proving that their method of research was the best technique compared to other methods of cancer detection. 

Though Velmanickam said he has been researching this procedure for a couple years now, he really started to brainstorm the method in January for the Innovation Challenge. His work is still not over, however, as Velmanickam and Nawarathna are working on creating a device that can detect cancer through blood tests. 

When asked what advice he would give to students who aren’t sure if their ideas would make an impact, Velmanickam said, “No idea is a bad idea. Just go for it, and as you work, you’ll gain more experience.” 

Velmanickam said he believes winning the Innovation Challenge will help him get a job because employers are always looking for someone who can apply innovation into their work. He said he hopes to one day start his own company.

In the entrepreneurship track, the first-place winners were Kristian Rue and Matthew Solem. The pair created new software that can send a receipt directly to a customer’s phone, thus getting rid of the need for printed receipts. 

The Innovation Challenge is hosted by the NDSU Research and Technology Park, which gives students the opportunity to work in teams and come up with ideas that can either turn into businesses or lead to future research. 

Within the competition, students can choose to compete in one track throughout the semester. The social impact track is for projects that stand to make improvements in community, region or even world issues. The graduate research track is specified for graduate students that want to compete with an innovation that is related to their research or thesis they are working on. All the other products or services students work on that aren’t related to research fall under the entrepreneurship track.  

All first through third-place winners of each track received a cash prize for their projects in the final round. First place received $3,000, second place received $2,000 and third place received $1,000. 

With the end of this year’s Innovation Challenge, students can start to think ahead to next year about what they’ll bring to the table.    

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