2013 St. Gobain Student Design Competition begins

Suneil Kamath, Staff Reporter

Every year, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) students across all schools come together to pitch creative ideas and prototypes during the Saint-Gobain Student Design Competition, which challenges competitors to use engineering concepts to develop a prototype that creates a new way to solve one of society’s pressing issues.

Competitors have to pitch their ideas to judges and have the chance of winning $9,000.

Competitors, including sophomore Tesia Thomas and her partner Max Cromier, are starting to prepare for this year’s St. Gobain Competition. Thomas and Cromier developed an idea to fix broken zippers. Thomas and Cromier are still developing their idea and building a prototype.

In the past, contestants have submitted ideas ranging from how individuals interact with their computers to developing a device which allows individuals to gauge how much water they use in the shower. The winning idea of the 2012 Saint-Gobain competition was ‘Hole Patch,’ an economically and environmentally safe way to fix pot holes. One of the co-founders of Hole Patch and a member on the winning team was CWRU senior Nicholas Barron.
Barron described the competition as anxiety ridden, but exciting.

“Presenting for the first time was very nerve racking. We [the team] were pitching a brand new idea that we had all researched quite a bit, and wanted nothing more than a good reception,” said Barron.
The competition has led to numerous opportunities for Barron and his teammates.

“Winning the competition has changed my life in many ways. First and foremost, it has validated the idea of the pothole patch. Gaining the support of the CWRU community quickly followed, and with the help of our advisors and newly found supporters, we have begun to develop a business model around our product,” Barron noted.

When asked what advice he would give to this year’s participants, Barron said, “ it would be to talk to customers, build a diverse team with different backgrounds, and to never procrastinate. Tackle the hard issues first, ask and listen to the advice of your coaches, and love what you’re doing. If you do, success is just around the corner.”