University of Wisconsin seniors Daniel Gartenberg and Justin Beck took first place in the 15th annual Innovation Day Competition Thursday for their invention of an Apple application that wakes users during the optimal part of their sleep cycle.

Proactive Sleep is a noninvasive tool that measures a user’s sleep cycle in order to best assess and predict their optimal waking time by waking them during the light phase of their sleep cycle, Beck and Gartenberg said.

“It’s the difference between waking up and feeling good and waking up and feeling groggy,” Gartenberg said.

The pair presented their invention as a part of Innovation Day, an event sponsored by the UW Technology Enterprise Cooperative to reward students for creativity and solving problems. For their efforts, they were awarded the Schoofs Prize for Creativity.

Schoofs Prize for Creativity is named after its creator, UW chemical engineering alumnus and Industrial Advisory Board member Richard J. Schoofs. The event presents opportunities for undergraduates of any major to display and exhibit their creative inventions.

Schoofs believes that creativity plays a key role in entrepreneurship.

“The intent is to get the students to recognize a problem, or a potential improvement, and then get them to solve it on their own,” Schoofs said.

More than $26,000 was awarded in prizes, with the first-place award of $10,000 going to Gartenberg and Beck.

Other inventions included Split Key, a two-piece removable keyboard that allows for left-or right-handed positioning developed by UW junior Benjamin Conrad, and Eco Stream, created by Michael Deau, which allows users to refill reusable containers at vending machines providing multiple payment options.

Among others was a Wopometer, invented by senior Graham Gisselquist, which is a portable measurer of alcohol content in small containers.

Director of Engineering External Relations Jim Beal agreed with Schoofs’ encouragement of student creativity.

“We wanted to inspire students who were having these ideas but weren’t pursuing them,” said Beal. “They can be their own economic stimulus, they can employ other engineers and build something from their own idea.”

Participants presented their inventions throughout the day, followed by speeches by Brjorksten/Bit7 representatives James Frater and Randy Ilif.

The awards ceremony took place at 5 p.m., where the recipients of the Schoofs Prize for Creativity, Tong Prototype Prize, the Younkle Best Presentation Award and the Sorenson Design Notebook Award were announced.

Student observers received tickets for a raffle for each presentation they attended throughout the day and were able to win prizes such as a laptop, Nikon camera and an Xbox 360 after the awards ceremony.

Gartenberg and Beck encourage more students to participate in the future, as it is a valuable opportunity for using marketing skills and originality.

“It was an amazing learning experience. This whole project is an excellent learning experience,” Gartenberg said.

Registration for Innovation Day 2010 begins today. More information on the event and registration can be found at www.innovation.engr.wisc.edu.