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Innovation from Fireworks to Eyelids in Corn and Soybean Contests

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2013 Corn Soy winners

The Indiana corn and soybean checkoffs brought out the cash awards Wednesday night for another round of winners in the annual student product innovation contests. Purdue University students form teams that create new products from soy or corn for a chance at the $20,000 first prize or $10,000 second prize.

The winning team of the corn competition created casings for fireworks made from corncobs. Jake Hoeing, an Ag systems management major from Rushville, IN, said their product has a number of advantages over what is currently being used.

“First of all, they are biodegradable and degrade very quickly. Second, they are 85% lighter than the cardboard currently being used, and it is 20% cheaper than casings made in China.”

He said Disney requires all fireworks at their parks have a biodegradable case, and many countries in Europe and Asia are also considering a requirement that fireworks be biodegradable. Other members of the team included: Alexander Parobek of Munster, IN, a junior majoring in chemistry; Polina Navotnaya of Tashkent, Usbekistan, a junior in chemistry and biochemistry; and Rachel Clayton of Greenwood, IN, a junior in chemistry.

The second place winner was Fog Away, a product that combines a glass cleaner with a water repellent. Team member Mitch French, a biological engineering student from Pittsboro, IN, told HAT this competition truly helps foster innovation in bio-based products.

“Our team came together because of this competition, and all the ideas you see here are because of this contest. It is really driving innovation.”

Other team members included: Anbo Wang of Jingdezhen, China, a junior in agricultural economics; Hannah Doren of Northfield, IL, a junior in food science; and Benjamin Lins of Racine, WI, a sophomore in chemical engineering.

The soybean winner this year is Team Nature Loft for their clothing insulation that uses a soy byproduct.

“Our raw material for the product is soy protein fibers and then we did a process to get a certain interlock structure to add loft to the product to improve its insulating qualities,” said John Grace of Hudson, Ohio, a senior at the Purdue Krannert School of Management.

“It is used in winter jackets, ski pants, boots, gloves, bedding and sleeping bags.”

His teammates are Solwoo Kim of Seoul, South Korea, also a management senior and Anshu Gupta of Chennai, India, a third-year doctoral student in chemical engineering. The team also won the people’s choice award for an additional $500.

Grace told HAT they have not yet done quantitative testing on their insulation,”but we feel that the fiber characteristics themselves are similar enough to the synthetic or polyester fibers that are used in current market products that ours would perform comparably to those given a similar manufacturing process and structure of the final product.”

Michelle Chan of Hong Hong is part of the second place team that developed water soluble Double-Eyelid Glue.

“I’m a mono-lid girl so I usually need some product to make the double eyelid so I can apply cosmetics easier.”

She is a senior in health and disease and further explains the glue uses in the full HAT audio interview below. Chan’s teammates are Qiting Wu of Guang, China, a senior in biology and Yuqian Chen of Fuzhou, China, and Sook Yan Goh of Penang, Malaysia, both seniors in biochemistry.

Scott Sanders of Argos, Indiana is an agribusiness management major at Purdue. Although their water filter creation was not a winner he said it’s a great program from Indiana farmers.

“Oh it was a great experience and we were lucky to have such a great team. Everybody was really accepting of ideas and we actually had a great time. I would encourage people to get with friends and people you enjoy spending time with because it makes it a lot more enjoyable and I feel like the whole process goes a lot smoother when you’ve got a team that’s focused on one thing.”

The Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council awarded the winners during a special event in downtown Indianapolis.

John Grace Michelle Chan Scott Sanders