BY MARY LYNN FERNAU
Special to Rice News
The Ice Owls team won first place overall in Rice University's third annual Undergraduate Elevator Pitch Competition with a plan to design and build a device for vaccine storage in developing nations. The competition was held Nov. 17 at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business.
Forty teams presented 90-second "elevator pitches" -- overviews brief enough that they could be given on an elevator ride -- to a group of 275 judges. The teams were evaluated on the commercialization potential of their projects and were asked to consider such factors as customer needs, market applications and unique differentiators. Prizes totaling $6,150 were awarded to the winning proposals. Competition judges included investors from throughout the Houston area, many of whom are involved with the Rice Business Plan Competition.
The elevator pitch competition was created to expose engineering students to the possibility and process of commercializing the technologies they create, said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. This year’s event was open to anyundergraduate student team that wanted to pitch a product.
“Fourteen teams of non-engineering students were a wonderful addition to the 26 teams of engineering students who pitched their capstone engineering design projects at the competition," said Maria Oden, professor in the practice of engineering education and director of Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. "We hope that entrepreneurial opportunities and exposure to the possibility of commercialization of their work will help all the students think beyond the initial stages of an idea and consider taking that idea into the marketplace.”
Burke added, “We hope that a number of these projects will move forward and become commercial successes and result in the formation of new startup ventures."
First place overall ($1,500)
The Ice Owls' plan called for the design and construction of a system that uses steam from a capteur-soleil, a low-cost technology to capture the sun's energy, to make ice. The system will be used in developing nations for vaccine storage. Team members included Victor Leyva, Shai Bernstein, Tristan Clement, Geoffrey Holmes, Travis Howell and Yean Lee.
Second place ($750)
Breath Alert developed a system capable of detecting apnea in premature infants and is suitable for use in crowded, poorly staffed settings. Team members included Rachel Alexander, Rachel Gilbert, Jordan Schermerhorn, Bridget Ugoh and Andrea Ulrich.
Social and Global Health Ventures ($400 per team)
Citybusters' plan called for development of an air-sterilization system tailored to the demands and limitations of a bus environment that has the potential to reduce the spread of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Team members included Shidong Chen, Grace Ching, Jerry Lue, Sundeep Mandava and Joey Spinella.
PEEK developed a cost-effective and portable endoscope with high resolution for providing point-of-care screening in the developing world. Team members included Rebecca Hernandez, Charisma Kaushik, Jean Kim, Amy Liao and Sabha Momin.
Medical and Rehabilitation Technologies ($400)
TCOIL's plan called for the design of two prototypes: a transcutaneous energy transfer system suitable for implantation and capable of powering Procyrion’s cardiac assist device, and a wireless system capable of controlling pump operation and determining critical pump operating parameters. Team members included Alexander Dobranich, Trevor Mitcham, Michael Torre, Hana Wang, Erin Watson and Tyler Young.
Energy, Sustainability and Electronic Technologies ($400)
Rice Recovery's project sought to develop a system that can harvest energy to supplement existing energy production systems in a solar electric vehicle, the Rice University Solar Car. Team members included Andrew Owens, Ethan Wagner, Kerry Wang and Robert Wilson.
Research and Innovation: Laboratory, NASA & Military ($400)
Collar ID designed a new collar that can be fitted quickly in the field of combat to properly immobilize military patients with spinal cord injuries without exacerbating injuries. Team members included Kareem Ayoub, Alicia Buck, Adriana Gamboa, Michael Heisel, Irma Martinez and Daniel Peng.
Open Challenge: Hardware Solutions ($400)
Loco4Motion proposed a cellphone case capable of converting the energy generated from daily motion into electricity. Team members included Sonia Garcia, Allison Garza, Vivaswath Kumar, Chester Kupchella and Joseph Song.
Open Challenge: Networking, Software and Public-interest Ventures ($400)
SNOWMAN's plan would establish a combination of algorithms to manage social-network content according to each user's preference on friends and industries. Team members included Mira Chen, Mingming Jiang and Frank Zhang.
First place, Houston Entrepreneurs’ Organization ($1,000)
Impossible Challenges developed a design that will potentially allow the launch of microsatellites with a mass around 1-2 kilograms into orbit for a fraction of what NASA or any private company spends per kilogram. Team members included Andrew Amis, Joe Anderson, David Sullivan and Kern Vijayvargiya.
Second place, Houston Entrepreneurs’ Organization ($500)
Wisga's plan would leverage the power of reviews to help students discover the internships, research positions and opportunities of their dreams. Reviews help students find the experience that is the best fit for them and provide organizations that recruit on Wisga with the best applicants possible. Team members included Ian Akash Morrison and Aniruddha Sen.
The competition was part of Rice's involvement in Global Entrepreneurship Week, which was sponsored in part by the Kauffman Foundation. The event was hosted by the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and was sponsored by BP, the Houston Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the Jones Graduate School Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Rice's Center for Engineering Leadership, the George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Jones School.
-- Mary Lynn Fernau is marketing director for the Rice Alliance.
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