Three student teams turned their ideas into reality during the SMU Lyle School of Engineering’s first Innovation Competition, a campus-wide event that brought together faculty, facilities and students from all fields of study to tackle big issues.
After weeks of work in the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education's Innovation Gymnasium, the teams presented their prototypes to a panel of industry and academic judges Friday, June 25. The winners were:
- Surround Sound Mixing Device (first place): An invention that allows sound mixers to control audio tracks by moving their hands over a flat screen or spherical device (junior Raven Sanders, electrical and audio engineering; senior Austin Click, computer science; junior Travis Maloney, computer science; senior Jason Stegal, mechanical engineering)
- GreenGym (runner-up): gym equipment that captures the kinetic energy created by human motion and converts it into electricity (graduate student Bo Bao, business administration; junior Jared Miller, mechanical engineering)
- Air Conditioning Reinnovated (runner-up): a mechanical and electronic system to intelligently redirect airflow where it is most needed in residences (senior Nick Vrana, international studies; senior Jose Campos, international studies; junior Marc Nieto, political science; sophomore Keith Adler, computer science)
"Our inaugural Innovation Competition was a great success," says Nathan Huntoon, director of the competition and the Innovation Gymnasium, home to the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Lab. "Students from across campus, with their unique experiences and perspectives, came up with ideas that can change the world. They worked many long hours together in our lab – with many ups and downs - to bring those ideas to life."
Junior Raven Sanders, who led the winning project, said her team worked hard to overcome real-world obstacles, including finding equipment and writing computer codes for their futuristic sound machine. "When I heard we won, I was ecstatic," says the electrical and audio engineering major. "We enjoyed the opportunity to design something and actually see the working result."
The annual competition was generously funded and supported by Carr LLP, Lockheed Martin, Art Harvey ’01, Tomima Edmark of Andra Group LP and Lisa Hart Willis. The teams were provided seed money to develop their prototypes and awarded cash prizes.
The judges included Greg Wilkinson of Hill & Wilkinson General Contractors, businessman Tom McCabe, Don Schapker of Lockheed Martin, Tomima Edmark, and Lyle School faculty members Volkan Otugen and Ira Greenberg. The judges urged all three teams to continue developing their projects and explore their business potential.
"We couldn’t be more pleased with all of your results," said Gregory Carr of Carr LLP. "You did a tremendous job on your presentations in conveying your ideas to the judges. The ability to communicate as an engineer is critical."
Minnie Arnold Caruth added, "All of you have taken what SMU’s founding fathers wanted this University to be and carried it forward. You’re going to change our world."
Mrs. Caruth’s husband, William W. Caruth, III, is the grandson of W.W. Caruth, Sr., one of “SMU’s founding fathers,” who donated farmland in 1911 that provided much of the original land for the SMU campus, and the son of W.W. Caruth Jr. Campus entities resulting from the generosity of the Caruth family include Caruth Hall, the W.W. Caruth Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic, Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship, Caruth Chair in Financial Management and Caruth Auditorium.