2018 Student Innovator of the Year seeks to make world more accessible

On Thursday, March 29, seven finalists competed in the SIOY competition. The judges’ votes are in, and Piero has been named 2018 Student Innovator of the Year!

The Piero team, consisting of Josh Horne, Morgan Glessing, Connor McLeod, Jake Perry, and Sam Lew, won $6,000 for their efforts to make the lives of wheelchair users easier. They created Portal, a hands-free device that automatically opens doors when a wheelchair user with their app approaches the door. The product has already garnered significant interest from buyers and techies alike. Piero has several systems in place in universities across Utah including UVU and SUU. They plan to use their prize money to streamline Portal for mass production.

Over 36 teams competed throughout the year, and finalists were chosen at last week’s preliminary product showcase. Audience members gathered in the WSC Varsity Theatre to watch the teams' presentations, which were judged by members of the BYU Ira A. Fulton College Advancement Council for Engineering and Technology (ACET).

The $3,000 second-place prize was awarded to Bryan Stringham and Matt Stewart for their product UtilAware. UtilAware provides a low cost, remote monitoring system for utility equipment that instantly notifies managers of problems via text message before damage occurs. They have units in place at a facility in Bear Lake with plans to install more.

Third place and $2,000 in prize money was awarded to Shaquille Walker and Jake Kissell of Myostorm for their product, Meteor. The Meteor is a massage ball that vibrates and heats muscles and can be used by anyone from professional athletes or casual exercisers to those with chronic pain.

The fourth place title, crowd favorite and $1,000 in prize money went to Grant Hagen, Jared Workman, and Aaron Cheung of E.I. Robotics who created Buddy. Buddy the robot is designed to interact with autistic children and comes with adaptable technology that allows the robot to become personalized to the child as he or she interacts with him.

In addition to over $1,500 in audience giveaways, the event included updates from the 2017 SIOY winner Caleb Lystrup of Khione Outdoor Gear. Khione created Shel, an innovative shell for hammocking in adverse weather conditions. Since winning SIOY in 2017, Khione has received over $15,000 in pre orders and has raised over $94,000 on Kickstarter.

“SIOY helps your ideas to take flight,” Lystrup said. “I encourage everyone here to consider a startup and inventing something. BYU is the perfect place to innovate because of amazing programs like SIOY.”

Congratulations to all winners and participants in this year’s competition. For more information about the SIOY competition, visit sioy.byu.edu. The Student Innovator of the Year competition is made possible by the Venture Factory club, and is sponsored by the BYU Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology and the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

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