The creativity of students in one University of Wisconsin engineering class is on display today as seven teams present their inventions to judges with the chance to take home glory and prize money.
This year’s inventions include a pedal powered lawnmower, a green garbage disposal, a braking system for longboards, an automatic window opener, a device that gives wheelchairs better traction in snow and ice, an improved snorkeling device for children and an improved pallet jack, according to the competition website.
UW senior Collin Bezrouk is part of the team that created the pedal powered lawnmower. He said the group decided to design the lawnmower because of society’s interest with environmentally friendly technology.
“We hadn’t really ever seen it done anywhere before…so it’s a new one we could bring to the table,” he said.
Bezrouk said competition between the teams has been friendly and good-natured, and he hopes to see his take home the top prize of $2,500.
The best part of the competition, Bezrouk said, was having the creative freedom to design whatever he and his teammates wanted.
“We were completely free to choose our own projects,” he said. “It’s our intellectual property and really the culmination of our engineering curriculum.”
UW professor Fred Elder teaches the class and said he’s seen students benefit from the competition in a variety of ways.
The inventions are the products of a senior design class, which Elder said allows students to apply what they’ve learned to their projects.
Students present their inventions to three judges. Elder said the presentations are open to the public and are also broadcast live online. Those in attendance and watching online have the chance to vote for the People’s Choice project of the competition, Elder said.
The competition is in room 1650 of Engineering Hall and will go from 2:30 p.m. to about 5:45 p.m.
There’s also a monetary component, with the first place team taking home $2,500, the second place team winning $1,500 and the People’s Choice team receiving $500.
For Elder, however, the most rewarding part is seeing students put their hard work on display and receive feedback.
“The best part of the competition is that students can show others their designs and get feedback,” Elder said. “That’s a huge, big confidence builder at this point in their careers.”