On March 17, six teams of current and former Tech students presented their inventions and ideas at the annual InVenture Prize competition for a chance to win a portion of $35,000 worth of prizes.
The event, which is normally held live on Tech’s campus, was modified this year to abide by COVID-19 protocols and was broadcasted live on Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB).
A panel of three judges included Blake Patton, IE ‘ 93 and founder and managing general partner of Tech Square Ventures; Nashlie H. Sephus, Ph.D. ECE ‘14 who currently works with Amazon’s AI system as the Applied Science manager and is the founder of the non-profit The Bean Path; and Dev Mandavia, BMED ‘18 and only two time winner of the Tech InVenture Prize who currently works as head of strategy and operations at OXOS Medical.
During the hour and a half long show, each of the six teams presented their product and answered questions from the judges about topics ranging from finance and legal compliance to future plans.
Aya Ayoubi, fourth-year ID, won the first place prize of $20,000 and people’s choice award for $5,000 with her Delta Jacket, which is aimed at assisting the homeless population around the world with warmth and comfort.
“Homelessness can strike anyone at any time,” Ayoubi said. “These people are our mothers and brothers and sisters and fathers and they need our help and that’s why I created the Delta Jacket. It’s a revolutionary new product that can help give the homeless back some much needed heat and comfort.”
Ayoubi’s idea for the jacket places an emphasis on both functionality and aesthetics.
“The Delta Jacket, with its unique and patent pending technology, is an inflatable and reversible garment that can be blown up for added insulation or to act as air mattress type bedding,” Ayoubi said. “It also comes lined with an emergency foil fabric that can insulate you by reflecting your body heat inwards, and if it gets too hot, you can just flip it inside out and keep yourself cool.”
The Delta Jacket caught not only the attention of the panel of judges and InVenture Prize audience.
Since launching her website, Ayoubi has received 512 pre-orders from around the world and has a partnership with the Red Cross to distribute over 1,000 units of the jacket after it is manufactured.
Part of Ayoubi’s business model is to target campers to purchase the coat and donate one Delta Jacket to the homeless for everyone one unit purchased.
After winning the prize, Ayoubi expressed gratitude for those who had voted for her product and helped her along the way.
“Winning the InVenture Prize means I could help, potentially, hundreds of thousands of people, so thank you to all of the people who voted and thank you to all of the people who have helped me,” Ayoubi said. “By helping me, I will be helping thousands of homeless people.”
The second place winners Tim Felbinger, EE ‘20 and Zach Cloud, ME ‘20, founded StartProto, an access control system for shared tools in makerspaces. Both Felbinger and Cloud noticed through their own experience using makerspaces at Tech the potential dangers of having equipment in a shared space.
“Right now in most maker spaces, students can simply walk up and turn on any tool they want, which puts themselves and others at risk,” Felbinger said. “Makerspaces have thrown staff and spreadsheets at these problems for years, but no one has found a scalable solution until now.”
After being attached to the tool of your choice, StartProto only allows for authorized users to access the tool after tapping their ID.
Additionally, it provides insights such as peak usage statistics. Felbinger and Cloud emphasized that the makerspaces at Tech are just the beginning.
“Looking at makerspaces in high schools, companies and lab spaces, we’re looking at a total addressable market size of over 100 million dollars, a market that is growing 30% year over year,” Felbinger said, who mentioned StartProto has been approached by industries who also see the value in this technology.
The other finalists who presented their inventions included Matt McMullen, ME ‘20 and Emma Bivings, ME ‘20, whose SPOT Harness assists blind dogs.
McMullen created the idea after seeing his own blind dog, Gracie, have issues with mobility and quality of life after her diagnosis.
“The SPOT Harness is just like any other dog harness available on the market today, except it’s equipped with a system of proximity sensors and small gentle vibrating motors,” McMullen said.
“The sensors detect obstacles and trigger the harness to vibrate in order to alert the wearer of the impending collision.”
After developing a prototype of the harness that helped Gracie navigate obstacles with ease, McMullen and Bivings have now begun to work with other dogs to help improve their lives.
Second to present was team CADe, whose app helps engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) programs with easy-to-use technology. Team members include Sean Cody, BMED ‘20; Jake DePiero, fifth-year ME; Saiharshith Kilaru, fourth-year ECE; Tarun Muthuchamy, EE ‘20; Matt Segler, ME ‘20; and Ryan Soedjak, fourth-year CS. CADe works to improve efficiency while engineers use the software.
“CADe is designed to be used with the left hand to manipulate your model in 3D space, which frees up your right hand to select geometry and do all the other necessary commands for CAD,” Segler said.
“The bottom portion of the screen is dedicated to this 3D mouse function and the top portion is dedicated to user customizable shortcuts to avoid digging through endless menus.”
Second-year CMPE John Wooten presented Block Transfer, a decentralized stock transfer agent protocol. Wooten has been approached by 38 firms who are interested in reducing inefficiencies in transfer agent protocol.
“Decentralizing the stock transfer agent market really is the first step to opening global financial markets to the billions of people on this planet who just don’t have access to quality equity investments,” Wooten said.
Sammie Hasen, fourth-year BMED, presented BCase, a phone case to store birth control that is convenient and easy to access.
“BCase is designed to help women remember to take their birth control pills by ensuring their pills and alarm are always in the same place,” Hasen said. “BCase is patent pending and proves it’s valuable to women by adding convenience to birth control. All you have to do is flip your phone over as soon as the alarm goes off and take your pill.”
After hearing the contestant’s pitches, the judges agreed that the innovation and ideas presented were a sign of the talent and creativity of young engineers, scientists and creators.
“Especially this year, we’ve seen how important innovation is for changing how we work and live and if these students are an indication, our future’s bright,” Patton said.
“The teams get better every year,” Mandavia said similarly.
The ACC InVenture Prize, which features 15 universities’ best representatives, will be broadcasted on April 21.