Whaley, Vaden win Inventure Prizes

Eight teams of Tech students put their inventions to the test, vying for cash prizes up to $15,000, and a U.S. patent worth $20,000 in the second annual InVenture Prize Competition on March 17, sponsored by Tech and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) and hosted by former CNN correspondent Miles O’ Brien and CHEM professor Dr. Bahareh Azizi.

The InVenture Prize finale took place at the Ferst Center and gathered all finalists of the competition to demostrate their products in front of a live audience, and televised by GPB TV. Winners were judged by a panel of judges that included entrepreneur Greg Foster, MGT professor Lara O’Connor Hodgson, Regents’ Professor and director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program David Ku and WSB Radio personality Scott Slade. In addition, winners were also judged by the audience for the new People’s Choice Awards through text messages. Students in the audience could also cheer on their favorite invention with posters and signs in each finalists’ own fan sections.

Following the finalists’ presentations to and questions by the panel of judges, Patrick Whaley, fifth-year ME major, and his product OmegaWear won the first place prize of $15,000, and the People’s Choice Award of $5,000. Second-year AE major Sarah Vaden won the second place prize of $10,000, for her drum tuning device. Both winners also received patents up to $20,000, provided by Tech’s Office of Technology Licensing.

The contest, which was stemmed by the organizers’ desire for undergraduate students to create solutions to local and global issues, began last semester. Finalists were selected through a 3-month process consisting of preliminary presentations and judgings. The other six finalists, selected from a wide range of competitors, included the teams for the products EEGLE EYE, the Multifunctional Automobile Powered Pump (MAPP) and the Koozie Cooler, and the individual finalists for the products ExpressPress, FandomU and Memory Boosta.

The winning invention OmegaWear is type of “wear weighted clothing [that] enhances training and weight loss for a wide range of athletes from professionals to the recreational sportsperson wanting to improve their health, performance, appearance, or physique,” according to Whaley. The product design strategically places hydro-gel over critical muscle groups to maximize the results of any physical fitness workout or of any daily activity.

“I had an idea for clothing that looked no different than regular clothing except it was significantly heavier. This way the user would be able to work out without anyone knowing,” Whaley said.

Whaley is currently taking orders for his product via his website and also plans to pursue clinical trials of his product at local research institutions.

Vaden’s drum-tuning device consists of a foot pump that blows air into the drum while the musician is playing it, allowing the drummer to tune his instrument while playing. Vaden plans to take her product to market and is looking to hear back from investors. Additionally, she has received contact from drummers looking for more information on the tuning device.

“[The Inventure Prize] would give me the means to fulfill my dream of applying my engineering talnets to my creative passions,” Vaden said prior to the competition.

Both winners and finalists discussed their own plans to expand their product as well as the stories that fueled the creation of such products. Some finalists such as the Koozie Cooler team have already acquired provisional patents, which protects their product for one year.

“We have a useful product that we passionately believe in and have received good feedback from our markets . . . If we pursue the Koozie Cooler, we know that it will be a long and difficult road, but a road well worth traveling in order to provide a more enjoyable drinking experience,” said Robert Gillan, fifth-year ME major.

Finalists recommended for interested students to build off of their own passions.

“Find something you’re passionate about and go for it. Make people fall in love with it, and make people see the product the same way you see it. That’s the key to winning,” Vaden said.