Students show off their work at Innovation Day

Students will get real-life reactions to products they have been developing as part of Innovation Day, Dec. 5, at Western Michigan University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Student entrepreneurs from across WMU, including students enrolled in Entrepreneurial Engineering II and Engineering Design courses, as well as those working through the Starting Gate business incubator and a number of  K-12 students will present to the public their prototypes or models of new products or businesses.

Those attending will be given "Innovation Dollars"  when they arrive and can "invest" those dollars in the products they believe are most innovative. The public will help assess the students' products and provide valuable input through their "investment."

"The assessment will involve listening to the student pitches and investing ‘Innovation Dollars,’" says Dr. Steven E. Butt, professor and chair of the Department of Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management.

Participating students have developed prototypes/models that fulfill one of the following requirements: cevelop a toy, which has a very clear educational component; present an entrepreneurial concept the students are working to commercialize, or develop a product:
  • that is useful to people living in an emerging/developing economy.
  • which can help save lives in turbulent weather, natural or man-induced disasters.
  • which campers, trekkers, or outdoors people would find useful.
  • useful to police, fire departments, or emergency service organizations.
  • which has a significant benefit to a group to which you are very familiar.
Now in its seventh year, the event from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. also is part of "Spark Design Week" in Kalamazoo, which  focuses on design input events featuring professional design developments from some of Southwest Michigan's leading companies.

Earlier in the week, engineering students presented their work in another forum. Twice a year engineering seniors at Western Michigan University show the projects they have been working on. The design projects were recently showcased during the 55th Conference on Senior Engineering Design.

Projects in the spotlight included an enhanced-mobility wheelchair, 3-D bone modeling and surgery simulation, and design for a new well field in Oshtemo Township. Some students also have been working with Whirlpool to reduce noise in laundry driers. Others helped create the Kinder-Coaster to demonstrate science and engineering concepts to kindergarten through second grade students, and an autonomous aircraft, which has a maximum payload of up to 5 pounds for 12 hours with an on-board charging system capable of supporting onboard avionic systems.

Source: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University