Innovation Palooza shows ingenuity in Rangos Ballroom

Innovation Palooza showcased not only student work but the work of various companies with which Carnegie Mellon works that exhibit products that combine technology and innovation. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/Photo Editor) Innovation Palooza showcased not only student work but the work of various companies with which Carnegie Mellon works that exhibit products that combine technology and innovation. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/Photo Editor)

Leading figures in innovation gave lightning talks as part of Innovation Palooza last week, while students participated in the second ever Impact-a-Thon and saw demonstrations of innovation at various companies.

Michael Bruce, Alexis Roberts-McIntosh, and Harry Shimp, three leading figures in innovation, spoke at the event.

Michael Bruce, President & CEO of InScope Technologies International, shared how his experience as a first generation American instilled an innovative spirit in him which lead to the creation of his company. “Be true to yourself,” Bruce said. He said that to be a successful entrepreneur one should not limit herself to being a specialist, but should extend her scope of knowledge to understand her rivals.

Alexis Roberts-McIntosh, formerly vice president of research and development at Johnson & Johnson, discussed how innovation impacts the consumer products industry, saying that to be successful one should make the experience of customers remarkable. “Don’t wait until somebody else has done it,” Roberts-McIntosh said. Moreover, she noted that start-ups should work collaboratively with partners to achieve success.

Lastly, Harry Shimp, Senior Operating Partner of MCM Capital, talked about the importance of innovation in manufacturing and encouraged students to pursue innovation in their works.

Apart from the lightning talks, the Impact-a-Thon student competition offered a platform where students’ projects would be evaluated by judges, with the top three projects receiving prizes.

Students offered various designs to help disabled children access recreation facilities. For example, the team that made Terra Chairs offered a mobile base that attaches to a wheelchair and allows disabled children to access many places with the base working like a crawler.

Some students offered designs that allowed disabled children to play with other children. For example design majors Yubing Zhang, Zan Lee, Xingsuo Liu, and Lynn Sandberg created Carolina Swing, a swing made of wood chips with a folding back and fording arm supports. On the same note, Team Awesome Impacto created a play center called “Once Upon a Time.” With a stall engraved with Braille on one side, the center was accessible to children with and without disabilities.
The projects were judged throughout the event, and three winners were chosen.

The first prize went to team Soundsation, comprising four students: fifth-year mechanical engineering majors Matt Powell-Palm, Allen Miller, and Judy Han, and Braden Kell, a masters student in electrical and computer engineering. Their creation, Trebelcade, offered an interactive musical platform for autistic children. The wall-shaped Trebelcade was equipped with ultrasonic proximity sensors. When players approach the sensors with their hands, Trebelcade would sound a note and light up to direct the player to the next note, thus composing a small piece of work. Trebelcade allowed for interaction without direct touching, which is often a source of over-stimulation for autistic children. In this way, team Soundsation was able to help over 1.1 million autistic children in the US have fun with music, which could help develop their communication skills.

The second prize went to the team that created Unity Playgrounds, a modular system with each module designed for a certain kind of disability, and by assembling them to one’s needs, the facility could accommodate many needs.
The third prize laureates presented Wonder Wheels, another modular system, that allowed children to create an event and maintain the friendship outside the equipment with an affordable price.

Innovation Palooza also gathered companies who had brought their demos to the campus. 4Moms showed an electric folding trolley and an electric cradle that could rock a baby without its mother.

Other companies included Amazon Robotics, Ansys, Automated Dynamics, Axis, Bosch, Corning Glass, Hillcrest Labs, Kennametal, Performance Plastics, and Simcoach Games: all providing students with information or chances for internships and job opportunities.

Moreover, Innovation Palooza had some faculty/student demos including 3-D bioprinting, showcasing how to 3-D print in gelatin. Others included robotic prostheses and exoskeletons, changing polymers to metals, pulmonary drug delivery, Wakecap, and CMU Rwanda program.