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Student engineers earn funding for innovations

College of Engineering students excelled in technology competitions held across the university last semester, pitching transformative ideas in public health, career services and the emerging cannabis industry.

Greg Davidson, James Hamilton, Tyler McRill and Alex Davessar pose with the People's Choice Award following the BOSS final competition.Outern team members (left to right) Greg Davidson, James Hamilton, Tyler McRill and Alex Davessar.Greg Davidson, Tyler McRill, James Hamilton, Nick Shaughnessy (third-year computer science and engineering majors), Alex Davessar (second-year information systems major) and David McGrath (second-year finance major) impressed at the Best of Student Startups (BOSS) competition, presented by the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship. The students earned the People’s Choice award and $500 in funding for their platform, Outern.

Outern allows companies to outsource entry-level projects to college students who can complete them remotely and gain professional experience in the process. Over 50 teams competed in BOSS this year, attending entrepreneurship workshops throughout fall semester and creating pitch presentations for a final competition on November 20.

“Preparing for BOSS enabled us to put together a professional pitch deck and really put a fire under us to make significant progress on our product in time for the showcase,” said Davidson.  “There’s still much to be done, but we plan to have an alpha version released by early- to mid-2020.”

At the Cannabiz Innovation Sprint, Jenny Luu (first-year biomedical engineering major), Isaac Shores (first-year computer science and engineering major) and Nick Szambelan (second-year computer science and engineering major) earned a unanimous first-place vote from the judges and a $1,500 prize for their app, IMP.

IMP creates a personalized care plan for those seeking treatment for opioid addiction. The app integrates the use of medical marijuana and cognitive behavioral therapy to guide users to an individualized end goal without the associated stigma and financial cost a rehabilitation center can carry.

Students pitch their IMP project in front of a crowd.The IMP team present at the Final Pitch of the Cannabiz Innovation Sprint.

“The sprint allows you to solve real-world problems by thinking outside the box and developing something that you would otherwise not get the chance to,” said Luu. “It’s truly helped me develop skills for future success.”

The Cannabiz Innovation Sprint is a partnership between the Drug Enforcement Policy Center and the Center for Strategic Innovation to foster creative solutions in an emerging market. The sprint involved five workshops leading up to a final pitch event on November 14, where teams presented their ideas to leading industry professionals.

Two teams with Buckeye engineers also won Tech Hub Student Project Grants, which are awarded to students for technology-focused ideas that better society.

Anders Sondergaard and Jen Schlegel (fourth-year biomedical engineering students) were awarded $2,000 for 119, a subscription-based service for smartphones and smartwatches to improve communication around chronic illness.

Anders Sondergaard and Jen Schlegel received a $2,000 Tech Hub Student Project Grant for 119.Many adults live with a chronic illness which, when a symptomatic event occurs, can cause well-meaning bystanders to make an unnecessary emergency call. 119 allows those with a chronic illness to exercise autonomy over their health and avoid unnecessary financial and social burdens by informing bystanders of the event and instructing them on a proper response.

Vikas Munjal ’18 (public health major and humanitarian engineering minor), Patrick Sours (food, agricultural and biological engineering PhD student), Mike Reese ’18 (environmental engineering) and Daniel Ma (civil engineering graduate student) also received $1,600 for their Maji Marwa Monitoring System, a series of water quality and usage sensors aimed to help Marwa villagers monitor their freshwater resources.

Buckeyes have spent the past four years advancing the Marwa Maji project in Tanzania, building rainwater tanks and establishing a rapport with the community. The sensors will allow engineers and community members to improve water sustainability and distribution.

“Our work is merely a small part of the larger global effort to create a future where all people have improved access to drinking water,” said Ma.

Tech Hub Student Project Grant finalists pitched their projects to peers, faculty, staff and judges for potential funding on November 20. Audience members voted for favorites and judges allocated funding to the winners, awarding $15,000 in prize money to student groups.

by Brianna Long, College of Engineering student communications assistant