University students dominate Governor's Cup Awards

4/27/2007 7:00:00 AM

"Never dig in the dark again" and "a small solution to big problems" described two of the projects created by the University's award-winners in the third annual Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup Business Plan Competition.

Nevada took seven out of eight places at the event with just three engineering teams and one each from science and journalism.

The Governor's Cup program is the only statewide awards program in which graduate and undergraduate students compete for cash awards in excess of $110,000. NanoVation, Inc., the team with four engineering students and one MBA candidate, took the top prize of $20,000 for first place in the graduate category, and they also won the $5,000 Lt. Governor's Award in the graduate category.

The Lt. Governor's Award is new this year and is presented to the students who best employ clean, renewable or efficient energy technologies and services. The five-member NanoVation team utilized transduction to convert vibrations into electrical signals: something they believe will provide power for many applications in automotive, shipping and construction areas. Their product is designed to respond to a large range of vibrations for use in air and underwater applications.

The computer science engineering team, Samsara Interactive, Inc. won $10,000 for second place in the Governor's Cup graduate category.

"This project fosters an online community, and produces and distributes free real-time strategy games funded through dynamic in-game advertising," Sushil Louis, one of the team's faculty advisors, said. "The management and development team is diverse, talented, and had produced an initial prototype of the portal and game as part of an undergraduate class project."

Both electrical and mechanical engineering students comprised the ME3 team that created carGLOW, which placed third in the Governor's Cup undergraduate category and won $5,000. The team used a flexible solar collector to line a car cargo carrier so people would "never have to dig in the dark again."

"We really came together in a short amount of time," senior Mindi Casey said. "We've only been working on the plan since February, so it helped that we could split up the research, design and financial parts of the plan. It's been a great experience."

Since the competition is open to all Nevada college and university students, many people were impressed with the entries from the University of Nevada, Reno.

"I think the quality of our students throughout the University is amazing," said Dean Adams, College of Engineering associate dean. "I know we are getting some of the best and brightest students pursuing degrees in the College of Engineering. These students are also being mentored by some of our outstanding faculty members, and their enthusiasm is very exciting for all of us."

Mark Lemos, the 21-year-old junior in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology within the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, was also a big winner. He placed second in the Governor's Cup undergraduate competition, winning $10,000 and he took the undergraduate top prize for the Lt. Governor's award with his project, EVO Fuels. Lemos' company, "a small solution to big problems," proposes to grow microalgae for biodiesel feedstock and other products while sequestering carbon emissions from power plants.

Simply Healthy Food, an entrant from the Reynold's School of Journalism, placed third in the Governor's Cup graduate category. SHF is an online community that brings together health food producers and consumers.

Several of these projects will be on display next Friday, May 4, at the University as part of the Senior Design Class Trade Show and the Computer Science and Engineering Senior Projects Workshop.


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