Nearly 50 University of Wisconsin-Platteville students, staff and faculty – the largest contingent from any UW System school – recently attended WiSys’ annual two-day research and innovation symposium, where they took home the most student awards from the event.
UW-Platteville senior mechanical engineering major Caleb Dykema was honored with the 2019 Carl E. Gulbrandsen Innovator of the Year Award. He was recognized for the creation of his “1Swipe” product, a full white or blackboard eraser that can be pushed across to erase, saving time and solving the issue of inefficiency in the classroom for STEM professors.
UW-Platteville students Seneida Biendarra and Brian Tuttle took first place in the WiSys Innovation Showcase for their rock-climbing innovation “Skillzboard.” According to the team’s description, Skillzboard is “a portable educational tool for rock climbers, climbing instructors and other professionals working at elevated settings (firefighters, search and rescue personnel, lighting installation and maintenance staff and arborists). The board simulates real-life climbing (ascending and descending) and tethering systems through a modular design that can be used to instruct or practice these skills in a safe environment.”
UW-Platteville biology major Kaitlyn Timmins’ research poster “Protecting the Planets from Microbial Contamination” took first place during the Poster Symposium. Her research addresses the role of First Contact™ polymer, which is designed to atomically clean optical surfaces through adhesion. It has been used to fully remove particulate from telescope lenses, LIGO’s interferometer, and even the Hope Diamond. As NASA embarks on future missions to send rovers to Mars to return samples of Martian rocks, soils, and atmosphere to Earth, the NASA Office of Planetary Protection is tasked to consider the implications of alien microbial life on other planets. Bacteria can survive in the vacuum of space, making it crucial to limit the introduction of alien species into Earth’s biosphere. Timmins demonstrated that First Contact™ can remove Bacillus atrophaeus spores from glass, aluminum, titanium and stainless steel, validating its role as an important tool to protect the planet from alien colonization.
A team of UW-Platteville students also took second place in the poster competition. UW-Platteville students Nathanael Braukhoff, Austin Fitzgerald, Evan Majerus and Zhiwei Yang presented their poster “Applying Predictive Models to Course Curriculums for Early Struggling Students.” The students’ research aims to provide data and tools necessary for students and faculty advisors to predict and prevent academic struggle.
UW-Platteville software engineering and mathematics major Lucas Frey placed third in the Quick Pitch State Final and won the competition’s People’s Choice Award, based on an audience vote. Frey’s project explored the connection between user interface design and errors in electronic medical records. According to his project abstract, he found that users “prefer traditionally sized, colored and spaced text, standard radio buttons or checkboxes for questions and a traditionally located navigation button in the bottom right corner of the window. This study developed an understanding of and measured the optimal ergonomic and cognitive information presentation for healthcare providers to navigate electronic medical records efficiently.”
In addition to competition winners, a number of faculty and staff represented UW-Platteville with presentations.
- Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Mohammad Rabbani presented on “Functionalized Nanoporous Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) to Separate Toxic Heavy Metals from Water.”
- Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Fang Yang presented on “Advanced Microgrid Energy Management Systems.”
- Student Justin Prochaska showed off his “Slik” app.
- Student Colton Lysaker highlighted his summer research on stem cells with Assistant Professor Dr. Mark Levenstein.
- Dr. Molly Gribb, dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, also appeared on a panel focused on providing career advice to students.
The event was held July 22-23 at UW-Stout. For more information about WiSys and the annual symposium, visit www.wisys.org.