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UW-Platteville students’ innovative ideas showcased at WiSys Prototype Hackathon

The second annual WiSys Prototype Hackathon at UW-Platteville brought together administrators, business leaders and community members as eight student teams of various academic interests presented their ideas for prototypes that could solve an existing problem.

In true hackathon fashion, this event brought together a large group of students to engage in creative and collaborative thinking. This special event, however, engaged students to design innovative product prototypes and demonstrate their commercial relevance.

Teams had two days in the beginning of April to research, design and build a prototype using UW-Platteville lab spaces. During these “build days,” team members also met with UW-Platteville marketing student Abbey Carlson, who consulted on where their ideas fit in the commercial field.

Student participants created novel and diverse products, from a remote-controlled duck decoy spread accessory to a heated shield meant to eliminate winter windshield scraping.

“Seeing the variety of prototypes that come out of the Hackathon is fascinating because for many, the competition serves as a creative outlet separate from senior design projects and other assignments,” WiSys Executive Director Arjun Sanga said.

New this year, all Hackathon team members participated in a WiSys-led workshop designed to help the students successfully communicate their idea, its importance and any background research they did—all within the strict five-minute time limit.

Of the eight innovative products presented on April 26, a panel of judges chose three that stood out for their functionality, market need, and the overall presentation.

Hackathon Winners

Pictured, left to right: Third place, "Plugzzz"; First Place, "Axis 360"; Second Place, "Zamboardi"

This year’s first place winners were Cullen Olsen and Nathan Creamer, who designed a tool to reduce injuries to mechanics’ hands by allowing them to safely access hard-to-reach places under the hood. The team won a $1,000 cash prize from the Platteville Regional Chamber and their project will be accepted into WiSys’ portfolio, which includes support for protecting the intellectual property and developing the technology.

Jacob Sobel and Ben Deuerling were awarded second place and a $500 cash prize from WiSys for their prototype of “Zamboardi,” a device that automatically waxes skis and snowboards. Deuerling also competed in last year’s Hackathon, where his team took third place.

Mitchell Schweda, Afolabi Joshua, Charlie Laabs and Will Martin took third place this year for their idea for “Plugzzz,” small, comfortable ear plugs with a built-in alarm designed to only wake the intended user. Their team won a $250 cash prize from UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement (PACCE).

About the Prototype Hackathon competition
The annual WiSys Prototype Hackathon began in 2016, when WiSys’ UW-Platteville Student Ambassadors came up with the idea as a way to utilize the University’s facilities and allow students to exhibit their talents.

About WiSys Technology Foundation
WiSys Technology Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) supporting organization of the University of Wisconsin System. WiSys supports 11 four-year universities, 13 freshman-sophomore UW College campuses and statewide UW-Extension to identify innovative technologies and bring them to the marketplace.