Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

IUPUI mechanical and biomedical engineering students win top prizes in pitch competition

March 16, 2015

SafeBay team members James Rutan, William Pearson and Ed Kello.

SafeBay team members James Rutan, William Pearson and Ed Kello.

Motor sports and manufacturing have always played an integral role in the economic health of Indianapolis and the state. So it should come as no surprise that the winning idea at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis' annual student pitch competition was all about keeping those investments safe.

SafeBay, a team of three School of Engineering and Technology students, took home the judges' top prize of $2,500 as well as the Audience Choice award of $1,000 in the Fourth Annual Ideas Solving Social and Economic Challenges competition organized by IUPUI's Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Vice Chancellor Kody Varahramyan called the winning idea -- a protective steel enclosure for motorcycles idealized for public use in parking garages, apartment complexes and even university campuses -- a perfect blend of creativity, intellectual acumen and market demand.

"Based on what both the judges and the standing-room-only audience saw, this team came up with a unique idea that solved a problem that most motorcycle users have experienced at one time or another," he said. "And we all know Indiana residents love their motorcycles."

The competition, which drew 15 multi-student teams from across IUPUI schools and departments, encourages IUPUI students to come up with innovative ideas to solve real-world problems through new approaches, products, services or venture. Students were given up to three minutes to present their idea without the benefit of slides or props. Prizes are awarded to encourage and support students who might be in a position to move forward with their ideas.

“This was the fourth year we’ve run this pitch competition under the IUPUI Innovation-to-Enterprise Initiative, and I was delighted to see so many talented students from across campus participating with passion and creativity to improve societal and economic well-being,” Varahramyan added.

William Pearson, a member of the winning SafeBay team, called the pitch competition an exciting stepping stone for advancing their innovation in the public eye.

"Building a pitch for SafeBay provided an opportunity to hone the team's direction, and it will be valuable to have in our portfolio for future pitch opportunities," he said. "Our winnings will be used toward building a prototype and for participating in the patent process."

A panel of expert judges from business and industry selected winning pitches to receive the awards.

"For Indianapolis' entrepreneurial sector, it is encouraging to see many excellent, innovative ideas coming from IUPUI,” said judge Ann Wilson, co-founder and CEO of the Impact Venture Center. "Investors, take note!  Several of this year's entrants are nearly ready for implementation and will yield strong profits and global markets."

For more information, contact Karen White at or 317-274-1083.

The 2015 competition winners and their innovative solutions are:

SafeBay: First place, $2,500; and Audience Choice, $1,000

Team members: William Pearson, Edward Kello and Jamie Rutan, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, mechanical engineering majors.

Project description: SafeBay is a secure and effective means of public and personal storage for motorcycles. A balance between security and convenience makes these substantial steel enclosures a unique and improved alternative to options in the market today. SafeBay provides a parking and storage solution for the motorcyclist and financial gains for owners by offering plenty of surface area for art/graphics/advertising.

NeoWarm: Second place, $1,500

Team members: Demicca Rice, Camron Dawes and Emily Ragozzino, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, biomedical engineering majors; and Harrison Holmes,  IUPUI University College, biomedical engineering major.

Project description: In the limited-resource regions of Africa and Southeast Asia, premature low-weight babies die from hypothermia at a faster rate than elsewhere. The NeoWarm Pouch promotes skin-to-skin contact where the baby is warmed by lying against the mother's chest; when the mother is unavailable, the solar-powered pouch will heat the baby externally, monitor the baby's temperature and alert caregivers when the temperature is too low.

LIRA Loans: a new lending model for 'Low Interest Rate Alternative' loans: third place, $500

Team members: Abigail Parham, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, civic leadership major; Phillip Mitchell, IU School of Social Work, social work major; Christopher Moeller, IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, poverty law major.

Project description: The project is designed to address the public problem of payday loans in Central Indiana. The proposed model provides the same loans as the payday loans but at a much lower rate (36 percent vs. 390 percent) for a longer duration (30 days vs. 14 days).