The 2019 Student Innovator of the Year competition today at 3 p.m. in the Varsity Theatre will feature the original products of more than 40 BYU student teams who are competing for prize money to fund their innovative designs and help them pursue further business opportunities.
For the last several years, the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship have worked hand-in-hand to encourage BYU students to turn their ideas into businesses for the annual competition.
Judges determine the winner based on the application of the product, its development and modifications and — the most heavily weighted factor — its originality.
The team that places first will take home $6,000. The runner-up will be awarded $3,000 in prize money. The team placing in third will receive $1,000. An additional $1,000 will be given to the fan-favorite team that is elected at the final competition.
This year’s competition will host various products ranging from a rock climbing beacon device to a robot that removes shingles from a roof to prevent construction-related injuries.
Founders of Auxilium Automated Construction Company Grant Hagen and Tod Paskett have been working on this robotic de-shingler over the last year and are currently developing their fifth prototype.
Hagen, a BYU senior majoring in electrical engineering, has always been captivated with the idea of robots that help humanity. Auxilim — Latin for “helper” — was created with the intention of making human lives easier.
When asked their purpose in introducing this product to the market, Hagen and Paskett said, “Automation and robotics are going to help mankind. Our entire company is centered around helping.”
Their machine will be capable of maneuvering complex roofs of any house and shedding off the shingles in a more efficient and secure method than human workers can.
Students representing the neuroscience, family studies, finance, economics and several other majors will compete alongside the engineering and entrepreneurial students this year. Leaders from the sponsoring organizations want to continue to extend the program’s reach.
BYU junior Austin Heath is in charge of organizing the Student Innovator of the Year competition and spoke about the importance of branching out to different majors.
“There’s no telling where the next great business venture will come from,” Heath said. “We need students from all majors to leverage SIOY as a springboard for the ideas from diverse disciplines and walks of life. Look to the communities that share your passions as the source of your next innovative idea.”
Representatives from the Rollins Center and College of Engineering said they want to involve more students in the competition’s expansion. In coming years, they expect the competition to grow in number of teams competing and prize money given to qualifying teams.
The Student Innovator of the Year competition is expected to resemble the Outdoor Weber contest, an entrepreneurial competition hosted by Weber State University, in terms of the amount of prize money awarded. This year, Outdoor Weber is giving $45,000 in prize money to placing teams.