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Third annual WiSys Prototype Hackathon exhibits students' inventive ideas

UW-Platteville students pitch their prototype at the WiSys Prototype Hackathon

Although the WiSys Prototype Hackathon seemed to transpire effortlessly in its third year of existence, effort was certainly not lacking in the student prototypes that were presented at UW-Platteville in April. The event allowed 21 students across nine different teams to implement their critical and creative thinking skills into the development and demonstration of a commercially relevant prototype.

At the event, students had the chance to compete for a $1,000 prize. Even further, the first place team was presented the opportunity to be accepted into the WiSys portfolio for potential intellectual property protection. Additionally, $500 was at stake for the second place team and $250 for third place.

With only two days allotted for research, development, and production of their prototype, each team worked diligently with the help of UW-Platteville's lab spaces to cultivate their ideas and bring those ideas into their first stages of life. While the ideas were developed almost entirely on their own, during these two critical days of work, students had the opportunity to meet with UW-Platteville consultants to discuss where their prototypes could fit into the commercial world.

From eyeware to infant care, students from diverse educational backgrounds developed unique and inventive products to present to the panel of judges.

Within the bounds of a stringent five minute presentation time, students were forced to streamline their ideas while ensuring that they relay the key points of relevance, communicating where and how they would succeed in the market.  

While all nine groups presented upstanding prototypes, the judges felt that three prototypes in particular stood out above the rest.

First place, $1,000, and the chance to be accepted into the WiSys portfolio was awarded to Elysian Eyewear. The dynamic duo of Doug Steinberg and Alan Pflaum developed a method to create 3D printed glasses that are customized for the wearer. This method accounts for asymmetry in the face, different face sizes, reduces pinch points, and prevents sliding of the glasses among other things. Steinberg and Pflaum also presented their business plan during the 2018 Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament.

First place team, Elysian Eyeware, receives their $1,000 prize

The title of second place and $500 cash prize was granted to Caleb Dykema, the one-man team who made up 1Swipe. Caleb developed a mounted prototype that allows one to erase an entire whiteboard in one swipe while still allowing the user to selectively erase small amounts as well.

Caleb Dykema shakes hands with WiSys President Arjun Sanga upon receiving his award

Jacob Rand took third place and a $250 prize. Jacob developed a fun, interactive, and educational toilet paper dispenser in the shape of a frog’s head. Froggy Time guides a child through the process of using the bathroom and is meant to aid the child and parent during the potty training process.

Jacob Rand stands proudly with his 3rd place prize

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

WiSys 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