Students Showcase Ideas in Nationwide Competition

Innovation Day 2020

North Dakota’s first-ever Innovation Day was a celebration of student entrepreneurs and innovation happening across the state. One portion of the event focused on a nationwide competition called Innovation Challenge.

Innovation Day Opening Remarks from Sandi Piatz


Sandi Piatz, Site Leader for Microsoft’s campus in Fargo, ND, opened Innovation Day with an inspiring quote that set our goals for hosting this event: to make innovation and opportunity available for those whose ideas can make the world a better place. 

Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity isn’t.
― Sandi Piatz

Competition Categories

The Innovation Challenge included Undergraduate idea, Social idea, and Graduate idea categories. Ten groups of student entrepreneurs presented their ideas and answered questions from a panel of judges, then a winner was selected from each category by the judges. Meet the finalists here!  At the end, the virtual audience voted for the People’s Choice Award.

Watch All Presentations


Undergraduate Entrepreneurs

3rd place: Computational cardiopulmonary modeling team.

For people with cardiopulmonary issues, this student team proposed the development of an adaptive controller.  An adaptive controller can be used as a predictive tool to monitor the patient and to improve their quality of life.  Instead of carrying around a battery pack, patients would have a smaller device that would perform the same functions of their heavy medical device, but without the weight and bulk.  

2nd place: Smart controller

The device proposed by this student team controls lighting, HVAC systems, and blinds in commercial business buildings.  It includes a touchscreen for business owners and real-estate developers, and this device is projected to reduce heat waste in older buildings with outdated lighting and HVAC systems.  By implementing this into NDSU’s electrical engineering building, the popularity of this device is expected to grow with online advertising and partnering with real estate developers.

1st place: Cardiopulmonary biosensor team.  

Seniors who suffer from congestive heart failure can monitor their hearts using this discreet biosensor.  Most devices like this are meant for medical use only, but this undergraduate team hopes to create a product that can be worn as a watch or necklace.  Seniors who suffer from heart failure are likely to wear a device with a high potential to save their lives.  

Social Entrepreneurs

4th place: Wealth Management

There is a lack of financial education in high schools, and this team’s goal is to work with NDSU and Fargo-Moorhead public schools to develop a program.  They will procure experienced speakers and alumni to speak to juniors and seniors at least twice a semester. 

3rd place and Winner of the People’s Choice Award: Find-A-Friend

Connecting lonely, less technically-inclined seniors can be a difficult task to face, but this team proposes utilizing a simple website to register and pair seniors.  Within two to five days after a senior registers, they will be able to send handwritten letters to another senior and bridge the gap of loneliness.

2nd place and Winner of the Nice X Award: Mental health First Aid for Parents.  

Mental health training for parents before their child’s birth can help reduce the rate of mental health problems.  Half of all mental disorders start by age 14, and this team proposes that by collaborating with medical professionals and mental health organizations, they can prepare parents for their child’s teen years.

1st place: On the Up and Up and Upcycle

Plastic bags are each used for about 12 minutes and pollute the environment.  This one-woman team currently makes bags and mats for the homeless out of plastic bags and seeks to increase her impact on pollution and homelessness with a creative solution.

Graduate Entrepreneurs

3rd place: Clarity

Advancing technology on construction sites can improve construction communication, and this team is creating a program to enhance architecture and versatility at NDSU.

2nd place and Winner of the Creative Destruction Award: the process whereby innovations interrupt the status quo: Sensinhale

Reimagining the traditional inhaler design for people with respiratory issues can help people of multiple ages.  Instead of using large and bulky inhalers, this team proposes recreating the inhaler to be used for daily respiratory needs. 

1st place: Orion. 

Creating resources for lung cancer patients can decrease the risk of serious illness, and this team proposes a toolbox that can prevent just that.  The three basic tools in the box include a “Radar,” “Bait,” and “Weapon,” or three diagnostic resources a patient can use at home to detect and target lung cancer.  

The pace of change is getting faster. We need to think in a creative, innovative, out-of-the-box style.
― Dean Bresciani, NDSU President

The opportunities presented by the Innovation Challenge allowed student entrepreneurs to share their ideas while improving our communities.  Ideas are taking action right now, and as Greg Tehven, a leading social entrepreneur in North Dakota and founder of Emerging Prairie, shared that we should “think of ND as a wide open white board with lots of opportunities!”

Posted on December 2nd, 2020 by Kennedy Fields in Events, News and Stories