The results are in! North Dakota State University’s Innovation Challenge 2015 concluded on Thursday with an Awards Luncheon and a total of $20,000 given to the ten winning teams. The Innovation Challenge began last October where students pitched events, teams were formed, and were then taken through a series of boot camps. Teams were judged on their ideas through visual and oral presentations, by a select panel of judges. The tracks for the teams were Corn, Product, and Service.

First place winners received a check for $5,000, second place $1,000 and third place $500. An additional $1,000 was given to a People’s Choice award, based off of votes from the public given at the visual presentation event.

And now, here are your Innovation Challenge 2015 winners: *drumroll*

Corn Track: A Displaced Farmer

Innovation ChallengeOne man team Paul Subart (who goes by the twitter handle @farmerphill and is a member of NDSU Farm House fraternity) took first place in the Corn track with his design for a modified rotary hammer mill. When mounted in the rear of a combine, this mill pulverizes weed seed to reduce weed pressure and improve soil quality. Subart said he plans to use the money to build a prototype of the mill. Sounds like this farmer might not be so displaced, after all.

Second place went to Tea Time, a project that uses green tea in a biopesticide as an alternative to commercial pesticides.
Third place for Corn Track went to Color with Corn, a team researching the use of corn byproducts in ethanol production – for instance, to give butter its yellow color using corn by products, which will add to its health benefits.

Product Track: SkyHawk

Innovation ChallengeThe SkyHawk team, made up of engineering students Alex Sinclair, Scott Wheeler, Aaron Perry, Jake Patton and Wyatt Dick, now have $5,000 to begin building the prototype for their multi-axial rotor actuation drone system. According to the team, the system provides precise thrust vectoring -or, more control when flying – to create less drag, greater range, and better maneuverability. The appeal is broad – within agriculture, delivery, photography, etc.

Read all about SkyHawk in our previous article, here.

Taking second place for Product was The Clothes Hanger: Reinvented, a design by two architecture students for a more sustainable, and maneuverable clothes hanger. We covered their project in a previous article, which became so popular it has since led them to appear in a Forum article and on the morning news.

Third place went to Toxosafe, a team that has developed a stimuli-responsive drug carrier, to transport medical treatments in way that does not hurt your body (for instance, as with chemotherapy.) After conducting tests, the team anticipates that their carrier will minimize side effects and increase the therapeutic benefits of anticancer drugs.

Service Track: Townneccted

Innovation ChallengeThe Townnected team already has a full fledged website at, which is dedicated to getting people involved with their local community. With their site, they hope to get people to post and view local news – “posted by people, for the people,” the team said. The team is one of the younger ones in the Innovation Challenge with two freshman – Wyatt Mund, and Andrew Martinson – and a sophomore, Landon Mund.

Second place went to Fruiton, a diary-like mobile app that aims to help people capture moments of gratitude and reflection.

In a similar vein, third place went to APP EZ  – a mobile app that allows users to focus on deep breathing exercises, specifically when engaging in a stressful activity.

Innovation Challenge People’s Choice: Team Liu Group

Innovation Challenge

Team Liu Group was in the Product Track, with a design for a mammostrip that allows for early detection of breast cancer. The team members, Sunitha Takalkar and Kwaku Baryeh, are both graduate students in analytical chemistry.

The keynote speaker at the Innovation Challenge Final Awards event was Dr. Pearce, President for Research for Sanford Health. As someone who is required to be innovative, and how sees the life-changing impact of an innovative idea, Dr. Pearce had a few words to say to the students:

“What defines innovation and research is, am I asking the right question?” he said. “There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

NDSU Provost Dr. Beth Ingram served on the judges panel, and said she was astounded with the quality of work she saw from the Innovation Challenge students. For all the teams that may not have taken home any cash rewards that night, she had words of encouragement.

“Today, not everyone will win,” she said. “But everyone in this room has shown the perseverance to continue.”

Photos courtesy of Haneys Photography, used with permission.

Posted in

Marisa Jackels