A University of Iowa invention that helps prevent piglet crushing deaths by sows has captured the gold in the undergraduate division in the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition. The annual Competition for college and university students and their faculty advisors provides a glimpse into the future of American innovation and emerging technological trends from the nation’s brightest young inventors.
“For students interested in STEM disciplines, innovation, and entrepreneurship, a strong understanding of the intellectual property system is critical for success,” said Joseph Matal, performing the function and duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). “We are proud to host this Competition, where the research and innovations of our greatest collegiate inventors are presented to the world.”
University of Iowa SwineTech Team members Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza were awarded $10,000 for their invention SmartGuard, which prevents piglet crushing deaths by their mothers by monitoring the pitch, loudness, and duration of squeals, and determining whether a piglet is in distress or just squealing as piglets normally do. When a piglet is in distress, the device sends a vibration to a wearable patch on the mother, prompting her to stand and free her piglet. The team’s advisor is Thomas Hornbeck.
The SwineTech team was also the winner of the Arrow Innovation Prize, chosen by a panel of judges from Arrow Electronics. This exclusive prize advanced the team to the final round of judging — all expenses paid — at the competition, and it included a private networking opportunity with a group of innovators from Arrow Electronics — a Fortune 118 global technology-solutions provider.
Finalist teams (six Undergraduate and six Graduate), consisting of 29 students from 12 colleges and universities across the United States, received an all-expenses-paid trip to the final round of the Competition held at the USPTO’s Madison Building in Alexandria, Virginia. The teams presented their inventions to an esteemed panel of final-round judges composed of the most influential inventors and innovation experts in the nation — National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees and USPTO experts.
“No place on Earth features more world-changing creativity than the Collegiate Inventors Competition Expo and Awards Ceremony,” said National Inventors Hall of Fame CEO Michael Oister. “In celebrating this new generation of trailblazers, we witness great inventors of the future collaborating with the world’s greatest innovators — the Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.”