Innovative ideas get a boost at WSU competition

File photo

A magnetic portable picture frame.

A pillow with air chambers.

A small box that children with autism can play with to keep them calm.

A box with a breathalyzer that will return car keys only if someone is below the legal limit for blood-alcohol levels.

A lightweight camping shell.

These were the five prize winners at the first Koch Innovation Challenge on Saturday at the Rhatigan Student Center on the campus of Wichita State University.

“These are all first-year WSU students — mostly freshmen, some transfer students,” said Samantha Corcoran, an engineering instructor at the university.

The competition emphasized teamwork and entrepreneurship and included students from a broad spectrum of majors.

The winning teams had to demonstrate a technically feasible and potentially profitable prototype. They also had to submit a basic business plan or opportunity statement to determine market size, profitability and potential for commercialization.

Each of the five winning teams received up to $1,200 in investment capital to pursue their ventures during the second semester. The teams will be paired with a faculty innovation mentor.

Students on the winning teams were each awarded a $1,000 Koch Innovation Challenge scholarship for their second semester.

The “Picture This” team with the portable picture frame consisted of Caroline Childs, Connor Egan, Liam Huckaby and Julie Sok.

The “Out Cold” team with the adjustable pillow was Derek Slaymaker, Braden Bohl, Cesar Gamboa, Jacob Kimble and Austin Nordyke.

The “Stim Support” team with the small box for children was Hayden Schrag, Natalie Ashbrook, Jacob Griffin and Talitha Wilson.

The “D-Safe” team with the box to hold keys of drinking drivers was Natalie Dutton, Azby Alshemeri, Zachary Bacon, Joseph Grondin and Abigail Richardson.

The “Snail-shell Camper” team was James Sizemore, Kristian Buan, Michael Lee and Raistlin Welker.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger