Ice-fishing net, automated polymer pellet separation system take top honors in student invention competition
A retractable net that enables ice fishermen to easily hoist large fish through relatively small holes in the ice won top honors and $10,000 in the Schoofs Prize for Creativity, an annual innovation competition held on the UW-Madison campus. Engineering mechanics and astronautics students Nick Passint, Joe Cessna and Bryan Wilson developed the Ice Net X, which they say also could be used for warm-weather fishing because of its streamlined size. The invention also took third place and $700 in the Tong Prototype Prize competition.
After separating more than 400 pounds of different polymer pellets with a tweezers during his summer internship, chemical and biological engineering student Aaron Wallander developed an automated system that uses a fluid to separate pellets by their density. Pellets lighter than the fluid float and flow into an adjacent tank, while pellets heavier than the fluid sink and remain in the initial tank. The invention and prototype won first place and $2,500 in the Tong Prototype Prize competition.
The winners were chosen from a field of 22 ideas and inventions, including a portable computer-aided drug dispensing system, a method of storing liquid hydrogen in hybrid-electric vehicles, and a radio-frequency system for finding lost disc-golf discs, exhibited and displayed during Innovation Days, held Feb. 12 and 13 on the UW-Madison College of Engineering campus. Both competitions award cash prizes to those whose ideas are judged most creative, novel, innovative and likely to succeed in the marketplace.
Other winners include:
Schoofs Prize for Creativity
- Second place and $7,000 — "Ice Light," a replaceable edge-lighted film that creates illuminated images such as logos or advertising within ice sheets in ice arenas. The images are easy to turn on and off. Invented by mechanical engineering students Mike Casper and Anthony Nichol.
- Third place and $4,000 — "Infinitely Variable Chain-Driven Transmission," a system that uses moveable sprockets, rather than the standard derailleur, to provide an infinite number of drive ratios for bicycle riders, making a more user-friendly, robust shifting system. Invented by mechanical engineering student Jason Zuleger.
- Fourth place and $1,000 (tie) — "Air-Tuner Drum System," a pneumatically driven device for tuning drums quickly and accurately. Invented by mechanical engineering student Joshua Lohr.
- Fourth place and $1,000 (tie) — "Laptop EZ Store," a removable desk-mounted laptop support that doubles as a space-efficient storage device. Invented by business student Peter Norenberg and mechanical engineering student Grant McNeilly.
- Fourth place and $1,000 (tie) — "Barrel Tattoo Machine," an improved, battery-operated tattoo machine that is easier for artists to handle. Invented by mechanical engineering student Andrew Lawson.
- Best presentation and $1,000 — "S-BMX Conversion Kit," a conversion kit that quickly transforms BMX-style bicycles into downhill skiing machines for the extreme sport ski-biking. Invented by engineering mechanics and astronautics students Eric Schroeder, Mike Guthrie, Aaron "Sonny" Nimityongskul and Luke Henke.
Tong Prototype Prize
- Second place and $1,250 — "Flexi-Desk," an adjustable, portable computer desk. Invented by engineering mechanics and astronautics student Trenton Kirchdoerfer.
- Third place and $700 — "Ice Net X," a novel tool for landing large fish while ice fishing. Invented by engineering mechanics and astronautics students Nick Passint, Joe Cessna and Bryan Wilson.
The competitions are sponsored by the UW Technology Enterprise Cooperative. The Schoofs Prize is funded by Richard J. Schoofs, who received a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering in 1953 from UW-Madison. The Tong Prototype Prizes and grants are sponsored by the Tong Family Foundation, including COE alumnus Peter P. Tong, who received his master of science degree in electrical and computer engineering in 1965.