Koch Innovation Challenge winning team advanced to Tampa conference, competition

Four College of Engineering students traveled to Tampa, Florida, to attend the Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization (CEO) national conference and global pitch competition Nov. 2-4. The students had previously won the 2023 Koch Innovation Challenge, and their team, ViBracelet, was selected out of about 300 teams to advance with about 100 other teams to the conference and competition.

At the competition, the students presented a working prototype of their big idea venture, the ViBracelet, which is a wearable vibration alarm that gives members of the deaf community a safe and reliable way to wake up from sleep. The team is comprised of JC Wright (aerospace engineering), Trinity Madden (formerly engineering technology, now applied engineering), Will Panakos (product design and manufacturing engineering) and Loralei McClure (product design and manufacturing engineering).

Although the team did not advance to the top 25 in the competition, they performed well and made connections with potential partners and investors. Prior to the competition, Nancy Kersenbrock, assistant director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and Doug Stucky, the manager of program and development for the College of Innovation and Design, provided mentorship related to developing a business model and pitching their big idea venture.