Students work to develop innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset at inaugural Aggies Invent

The Engineering Academic and Student Affairs (EASA) office, with the help of several sponsors, recently hosted the inaugural Aggies Invent at the Engineering Innovation Center (EIC) on the Texas A&M campus.

Aggies Invent is a program that promotes innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset among students at Texas A&M University. The concept is to gather interested students, provide them with potential needs (medical, energy, or others), allow them to self-select teams, give them access to and support from the EIC, and have them create prototypes in 48 hours. The focus of this particular Aggies Invent was medical needs and wearable electronics.

Aggies Invent students 3“Innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset is someone who is actually thinking about the business portion of the design they are working on, not just fulfilling the technical requirements but also the market requirements and making it something that we can sell,” said Rodney Boehm, industry mentor and mediator of Aggies Invent.

There were 42 engineering students and five medical students who participated in the event. The students ranged from freshmen to Ph.D. candidates. This diversity allowed teams to collaborate with one another in order to successfully create a prototype.

The students used innovation, creativity, and collaboration in order to gain experience with rapid prototyping tools while competing for the best design. Sponsors such as NASA, Texas Children’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Tenaris, Intel, Confluence Ventures, PECO Medical, Freescale, and Baylor Scott & White supplied the students with need statements for projects that the companies do not have the time or the money to currently support.

“It’s like Project Runway for engineers because you have a limited amount of time and you’re trying to produce this product,” said Mara Wais, a sophomore aerospace engineering student.

Aggies Invent studentsStudents had access to mentors from the participating companies. Some mentors were there in person while some teams were able to videoconference with their mentors through a VGo robot.

This type of communication allowed the students to act as if this was a real-world situation, and ask questions about any problems they may have encountered while working on their projects.

The EIC is a new facility fully dedicated to undergraduate engineering students and supported by Differential Tuition funds. The EIC provided students access to a collaborative environment, fabrication facilities, materials, and support from professional staff.

“The EIC is where theory becomes application,” said Dean Tate, a senior electronic systems engineering technology student.

The teams gave presentations about their projects to a panel of judges. The top two teams chosen were given a cash award.

The first place team, Under Control, consisting of Walter Pospick, computer science sophomore, Cara Buskmiller, fourth-year medical student, Nicholas Taluzek, aerospace engineering senior from Illinois Institute of Technology who had previously participated in the summer Texas A&M Undergraduate Research program, Amy Li, mechanical engineering sophomore, and John Gonzalez, mechanical engineering junior, received the top prize of $750 for creating a wearable device based on a need statement provided by Baylor Scott & White to help people successfully exercise their pelvic floor muscle in order to prevent incontinence.

Aggies Invent student 2Team Good Baby consisting of Sean Whitney, aerospace engineering junior, Duanduan Han, chemical engineering graduate student, Yusuf Chauhan, first-year medical student, Gabriel Aguilar, aerospace engineering junior, and Daniel Whitten, mechanical engineering senior, was given a $500 check for second place for their project that uses geo-fencing in order to let people know that an infant has been left in a hot car. This project also focused on a need statement furnished by Baylor Scott and White.

All of the presentations are available on the college of engineering’s YouTube channel. The next Aggies Invent has been scheduled for October 24-26 with the focus on “What Would You Build to Help First Responders?” Registration for the October event will open next month and interested students should visit the Aggie Invent page for more information.

Additional Aggies Invent coverage can be found through local media, KBTX and The Eagle.