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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

First Aggies Invent of semester invites student input

Photo by Provided

Aggies Invent, competitors have 48 hours to work with corporate sponsors to turn an idea into an invention

This weekend over 60 students will compete at Aggies Invent not only for cash prizes, but for the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals to solve real-world problems in 48 hours.
The “Bring Your Own Idea” competition begins Sept. 1 at the Engineering Innovation Center (EIC) and will be the first of three Aggies Invent programs this semester. Each team is assigned a mentor and will develop an invention to solve a challenge, called a need statement in the EIC’s 20,000 square foot rapid prototyping lab.
While a corporate sponsor is usually tasked with creating the need statement, this Aggies Invent will allow students to solve problems they submitted. On Sept. 3, teams will have 10 minutes to present their prototypes and a video to a panel of experts, sponsors and faculty who will determine the top three groups to win $1,000, $750 and $500 respectively.
Aggies Invent, sponsored by the College of Engineering, was created to give a range from freshmen to Ph.D. students a glimpse into the real world of innovation through hands-on engagement, according to founder of the program and Director of Engineering Entrepreneurship Rodney Boehm.
“My passion is around giving students an experience that is as much like the job as they can possibly have while they’re here,” Boehm said. “The four phases we go through during the weekend are the dance, the design, the doing and the deal and all four of those phases have different sets of skills and different things going on each one of those times.”
Some of the program’s most beneficial aspects is that it allows participants to interact with different majors, network with professionals and have a chance to continue their work beyond the 48-hours, according to Philip Schraub, Class of ‘75 Aggies Invent Mentor.
“The students get a lot out of it,” Schraub said. “They may end up with an idea they want to take further as a team and Rodney and the EIC will support them going forward to provide additional help for them to try to develop their idea into something to sell or turn into a company.”
While Aggies Invent is based out of the EIC, Boehm said he encourages students from every discipline to get involved.
“This is a structured design process that is not intimidating to people because we want it to be as open as possible,” Boehm said. “Our statistics show that we have almost 30 percent female participation and almost 20 percent non-engineering students participating.”
The program offers a large variety of benefits for all student participants, said the Director of the EIC James Wilson.
“One is getting to interact with other students,” Wilson said. “They get to know people and get to talk with other engineers. And the second thing is we teach them how to design something that they thought of, how to build it and then how to present it. That’s the biggest thing I think they get out of that, is the design and build process.”
Before the start of the competition, each participant submitted a need statement they wanted to work on. 15 groups were selected to be voted on by the other participants on Sept. 1. Approximately eight need statements will remain by the end of Friday night and teams of six to eight members will form around these challenges.
Wilson said some of the ideas include shoes that can walk on water for the rescue industry, luggage tags that contain your travel information for faster airport security checks and a nonintrusive monitor to track children’s heart rates.
Industrial engineering senior Alejandra Hernandez won Aggies Invent in the spring semester for the “K-12 Educational Needs” topic. Hernandez said her time with the program was highly influential.
“Aggies Invent changed not only my college experience, but also my professional life,” Hernandez said. “During and after the competition, I applied what I have learned in my ISEN classes. I got to discover a side of me that I didn’t even know existed because the competition was so intense in such a short amount of time.”
Because it is applicable to the real world, the event has a positive effect on students long after the competition ends, Boehm said.
“We’ve seen students really transform their education because it’s not just learning to [take] a test,” Boehm said. “You’re solving open ended problems and you recognize that you can solve open ended problems and you have to make decisions about the best way to do it. I would love for everybody to have an Aggies Invent experience. It’s something that I’ve seen make a huge difference in so many students.”
Team presentations begin at 3 p.m. on Sept. 3 at the EIC and are open to the public. Every presentation will be streamed to the Aggies Invent Youtube channel.

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