The 2018 Student Innovator of the Year competition showcased ingenuity through student-designed products ranging from a 3-D language learning platform to a hands-free door opener to a jacket heater.
Student Innovator of the Year committee member Austin Heath said the purpose of the competition is to give students an opportunity to show their inventions to the university and also for the university to give them some financial support.
Thirty-three teams participated in the preliminary round where student innovators shared prototypes on Brigham Square. The top seven teams were selected to participate in the final round March 29.
Finalists competed for $12,000 of prize money available, and the top four teams were awarded various amounts to support their ventures. There was also an “audience choice” award of $1,000.
“(Students) already have the desire to create, so we are just trying to connect them with the resources that they need,” Heath said.
The event was sponsored by the College of Engineering, School of Technology, Venture Factory club and the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
Venture Factory co-president Dayde Collins said their presidency is in a supporting role to the competition. The club helps students build prototypes and also offers training and mentoring.
“Participating in (Student Innovator of the Year) is a great way for students to see how much work goes into a project and know what it takes to get a business started,” Collins said. “For a lot of people it’s surprising to them how easy it is — I mean it’s a lot of work and for a lot of people it seems kind of impossible to start a business, but really when you just do the basics it comes pretty easy.”
Items were raffled in between each student presentation featuring many products created by former Student Innovator of the Year participants.
Khione Outdoor Gear won the competition last year. Khione team member Caleb Lystrup shared his experience in the competition and what has happened since.
“Consider a start-up, consider an invention, because if I can do it, you can do it,” Lystrup said. “BYU is the perfect place to do this because of things like Student Innovator of the Year.”
The audience was invited to vote for their favorite presentation at the end of the event and selected “Buddy” as the winner. “Buddy” is an emotional-intelligence robot aimed to help teach kids with learning disabilities. Grant Hagen, Jared Workman and Aaron Cheung designed the product.
The judges also selected “Buddy” as the fourth place finisher and winner of another $1,000.
Students Shaquille Walker and Jake Kissell placed third, winning $2,000, with their product “Meteor” by MyoStorm. Meteor is a therapeutic ball designed to alleviate pain for athletes and those with chronic pain.
Second place went to UtilAware by Bryan Stringham and Matt Stewart. The team won $3,000 for their remote water and sewer monitoring systems.
Josh Horne, Morgen Glessing, Connor McLoed, Jake Perry and Sam Lew took home the title of Student Innovators of the Year and the $6,000 prize for their product, “Portal.”
“Portal” is a hands-free door opener designed to revolutionize entryway accessibility for those with mobile disabilities.
Glessing said he remembered being in the crowd last year and thinking about how great it would be to participate in the future.
“Fast forward a year later and I’m on stage with my awesome team winning the grand prize,” Glessing said.
He said the team has put a lot of work into this product and it feels good to have someone else verify them in a way by providing monetary support. This prize will help them remain motivated for the coming months and years, according to Glessing.
The team will be installing “Portal” devices in universities across the nation next month and by the end of the summer they will be testing over 1,000 devices.