ND Innovation Day Finalists

Meet our 2020 Nice Idea and Innovation Challenge Finalists

ND Innovation Day is a celebration of North Dakotans who are putting innovation to work in their classroom, communities and businesses. ND Innovation Day is Thursday, November 19th from 1-4 p.m. CST. You can reserve your free ticket and watch online here.

At 1 p.m., our high school finalists from the Nice Idea program will showcase their ideas. They were given a choice of five challenges facing local businesses and organizations. The finalists will share their potential solutions with a panel of judges.

At 2 p.m., our collegiate finalists from the Innovation Challenge program will showcase their ideas. These undergraduate and graduate students represent five different universities, four different countries, and a wide-range of ideas from medical devices to mental health support programs.

We wanted to introduce you to the finalists. There will be a People’s Choice Award for both showcases, so we encourage you to watch and vote for your favorite ideas.

Nice Idea High School Finalists

  • Barnes County 4-H – Allison, Alyssa, Chesney, Ella
    • Taught by Susan Milender, Valley City is working to improve the efficiency and safety of a bridal store.
  • Strasburg High School – Arianna and Blake
    • Taught by Penny Smith, Strasburg is working to recruit diverse students to a new charter school.
  • Virtual Cohort from Fargo, Carpio, and Tioga, ND – Zoe, Gracie, Matthew
    • Taught by Kodee Furst, the virtual cohort is working to integrate 3D printers into high school curriculum.
  • Wishek High School – Ashton, Ben, and Jasper
    • Taught by Kathy Klemetsrud, Wishek is working to integrate 3D printers into high school curriculum.
  • Watford City High School- Madison
    • Taught by Kalsey Kronberg, Watford City is improving the efficiency and safety of a bridal store.
Innovation is an essential skill for everyone - no matter their age. ND Innovation Day showcases how everyone from middle schoolers to retirees have the ability to make an idea come to life to improve their communities.
― Scott Meyer, Ozbun Executive Director of Entrepreneurship at The Nice Center

Innovation Challenge Collegiate Finalists

In our undergraduate track, we have three teams in the finals.

Cardiopulmonary Biosensor

This project uses biosensors to identify cardiopulmonary disease. Team members include:

  • Rachel Wright: Otsego, MN, Electrical Engineering at NDSU
  • Toan Le: Vietnam, Biomedical engineering at NDSU
  • Kaitlyn Van Auken: Maple Grove, MN, Biomedical Engineering at NDSU
  • Mackenzie Ostlie: Vergas, MN, Electrical Engineering at NDSU
  • Anna Schornack: Rochester, MN, Electrical Engineering at NDSU
  • Jacob Enochson: Wahpeton ND, Electrical Engineering at NDSU
  • Julia Gibbs: Woodbury, Minnesota, Electrical Engineering at NDSU
  • Kiersten Evenson: Moose Lake, MN, Electrical Engineering at NDSU
  • Nischal Khanal: Colombia, MO, UND
  • Christopher Wu: Rowland Heights, CA, Biola University
  • Isaac Gilchrist: Cloquet, MN, NDSU

Smart Controller

As the name suggests, this team is creating a smart controller to optimize energy efficiencies in new and existing buildings. Team members include:

  • Olivier Thiss: Lakeville, MN, Electrical Engineering at NDSU
  • Joel Curoe: Minnetonka, MN, Electrical Engineering at NDSU

Computational Cardiopulmonary Model

Another descriptive team name, this project uses machine learning to create a computational cardiopulmonary model to improve medical devices and medical care. Team members include:

  • Elisabeth Thorson: Alexandria, MN, Mechanical Engineering at NDSU
  • Amber Younggren: Bemidji, MN, Mechanical Engineering at NDSU
  • Christopher Maciolek: Moorhead, MN, Electrical Engineering at NDSU
  • Douglas Folk: Side Lake, MN, Mechanical Engineering at MN State Mankato
  • Kristen Stromsodt: Enid, OK, Biomedical Engineering at UND
  • Audrey Tseng: Engineering and Physics at Biola University

 In our graduate track, we have three finalists.


This product monitors obstructive lung diseases in babies and elderly patients. Team members include:

  • Sangeeta Bhallamudi: Bilaspur, India, Pharmaceutical Sciences at NDSU
  • Venkat Mantripragada: Hyderabad, India, Software Engineering at NDSU


Clarity is a hands-free visual aid and communication tool on smart goggles for construction companies. Team members include:

  • Blaze Irwin: Wahpeton, ND, Architecture at NDSU
  • Zak Kuntz: Grand Forks, ND, Architecture at NDSU


Orion is a tool-box for improving lung cancer therapy. Team members include:

  • Harshit Shah: India, Pharmaceutical Sciences at NDSU
  • Mahek Sadiq: Bangladesh, Biomedical Engineering at NDSU
  • Lizhi Pang: China, Pharmaceutical Sciences at NDSU

Our final track is social innovation, highlighting ideas that do good through sustainable and scalable business models. We have four social innovation finalists.

Mental Health First Aid

This project brings mental health first aid training to parents in their newborn classes. Current team members include:

  • Kori Hennebry: Fargo, ND, Public Heath at UND 

Wealth Management

Wealth Management, financial literacy training for high school students, with team members from the finance and computer science departments at NDSU

  • Zac Johnsen: Minneapolis, MN, Computer Science and Strategic Communications at NDSU
  • Bikram Bhandari: Grand Forks, ND, Finance at NDSU

On the Up & Upcycle

On the Up & Upcycle creates fashion products with upcycled plastic materials. Current team members include:

  • Melissa Zimmermann: Sauk Centre, MN, Business Administration and Global Business at NDSU


FindAFriend is a penpal matching service for elderly patients living alone. Team members include:

  • Gabriel Thomas: Fargo, ND, Management Information Systems and Accounting at NDSU
  • Jediah Thomas: Fargo, ND, Finance at Concordia College

Join Us November 19th

ND Innovation Day is Thursday, November 19th from 1-4 p.m. Join us online to see which teams win.

Posted on November 16th, 2020 by Scott in Events, News and Stories