Discovery Competition finals to feature six teams

Six teams will compete for $25,000 in cash to build their business idea into a new venture in the 2015 Discovery Competition in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

The competition provides engineering undergraduate students with a forum to explore their entrepreneurial interests with support from mentors, to use their creativity to develop solutions for real-world problems and to compete for financial resources that could help turn their ideas into businesses. During the academic year, students interact with mentors, advisers, judges and other students through several events.

In addition to the cash prize, the winning team will receive $5,000 in legal services from Polsinelli.

This year's final presentations will be held at 1 p.m., Friday, April 24 in Brauer Hall, Room 12. A winner will be announced the following week.

"Ever since we started this competition three years ago, thanks to several generous alumni, I am more and more impressed with the ideas and innovations that students in the Discovery Competition bring to the table," says Ralph S. Quatrano, PhD, dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS) and the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology. "The quality of presentations by, as well as the entrepreneurial environment within SEAS, WashU and in St. Louis, have all worked to provide incentives to our students to use their engineering skills to move ideas into reality."

Two teams who entered the competition, See3 and WOOTA, have been given extensions to continue working on their research and development through next fall.

The six teams presenting in the finals are:

Amstr: This team is designing a device to capture energy generated from revolving doors. By replacing the speed control in revolving doors, they will either store the energy created or send it back into the grid.

Bridge: This team is creating a mobile application that connects members of local communities through non-monetary skill and resource exchange. The platform also will facilitate social connections between people who might not meet otherwise by helping them identify peers who share common interests or passions and the desire to collaborate. The team plans to test the first iteration of the app at Washington University this spring.

IdealTap: This team has developed a medical device that can move a patient between two positions to make a spinal tap procedure a more efficient and easier process for the patient and the physician. The chair can rotate a patient from a seated, upright position to lying on his or her side without the need for extra personnel or tools.

Intelli-Write: This team has designed a device that would capture and transfer what a professor is writing on a blackboard to students' tablets. The team is combining use of nine-axis accelerometer and optical sensor for handwriting detection with the intelligent programming with machine-learning ability.

Universiteam: This team has developed a mobile application that simplifies the way college coaches and team players communicate and organize their practice plans. This app provides tools and features to facilitate creating practice drills, planning of schedules in coordination with the student/player schedule and to see each player's improvement.

Volt Optics: The Volt Optics team is creating a new form of glasses called temporal glasses. Temporals will have the same benefits of varifocals, which have close and distance prescriptions in one lens. Using a process called electrowetting, these fluid filled lenses will use volumetric fluid extraction through an electrocapillary effect to, in real time, change the prescription throughout the lens of the glasses based upon where the wearer is looking.


The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 91 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.