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Van Deburg Wins $10,000 in Brainstorm

New toilet and its inventor

Ted Van Deburg demonstrated the features of his invention in Engineering Hall. (large image)

Theodore Van Deburg is the first place $10,000 winner in the 1996-97 The Schoofs Prize for Creativity. His invention, Urilet, is a combination toilet and urinal. The toilet lid flips up in such a way as to turn the toilet into a urinal. The idea is that you could have both in half the space. As Ted puts it, "The Urilet has all the benefits and conveniences of a urinal, while maintaining the aesthetics and functionality of a well-designed toilet."

BRAINSTORM is the college's annual invention contest sponsored by COE alumnus Richard Schoofs (BS Chem E 1953).

Second place, $7,000 winners are Jonathan Furniss, Adam Ward, Joseph Gasser, Branden Reid and Timothy Kippley for their Fly-by Rack. The rack simplifies loading bicycles onto the roof of a vehicle.

Third place $4,000 winners are Bill Jacobson, Amanda Kohout and Robert Sundling for Alarm Twin, a system for keeping track of personal belongings or small children. Alarm Twin consists of two inexpensive, credit-card sized units, a matched receiver and transmitter pair. The transmitter is kept on the person and the receiver on the belongings. If the two are separated by a user specified distance, an alarm sounds.

Three inventions tied for Fourth place $1,000 prizes. They are:


  • Photodiode-controlled Toasting System by Matt Younkle. A system using an array of photodiodes to gauge the length of toasting time needed to achieve the desired color of toast.


  • Variable Length Intake Manifold by Brian Dondlinger. A device for modifying and improving the delivery of the air/fuel mixture to the combustion chamber of the cylinders on an internal combustion engines. The length of the manifold is controlled by an electro-mechanical positioner motor which receives signals from the engine management computer.


  • Automaton Stew by Nate Gemelke. An object oriented programming language designed to facilitate the construction of event-driven applications through the use of autonomous objects, capable of implicit event-trapping and automatic behavior triggering.

The Tom Aschenbrenner "Best Prototype Awards" went to:


  • Thermoelectric-based Air Conditioning System by Kristofer Dressler and Matt Younkle. An automotive climate control system using thermoelectric coolers and heat sinks. The system uses an array of thermoelectric cooling pads attached to heat sinks to cool air circulated by electric fans.


  • Tire Leads by Peter Parker. Metal brushes affixed to vehicle wheels in such a way as to remove snow and water from the path of each tire.