Purdue Student Statements
Caitlin Nelligan is a senior in Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering. As an avid outdoors person, she is always looking for ways to connect industry with natural resources. She was able to accomplish just that with her involvement in this competition. Caitlin is the treasurer of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Ambassadors in which she is able to share her passion for agriculture and its advancement through the involvement of engineers. She plans on using what she has learned from this competition about the use of agricultural products in manufacturing and product development at her job with Armstrong Flooring upon graduation.
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity to get first-hand experience in product development. I’ve learned a lot about the processes involved and the importance of detailed book keeping.”
Andrew Huang is a Master’s Student in Industrial Engineering. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering with a focus in Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering. His current research explores calculating uncertainty in biofuel co-firing emissions. He entered the competition because of his interest in entrepreneurial activities.
Andrew is working to commercialize a soybean-based air filter which took part in the competition last year. He also serves on the executive committee of Old Masters, an organization that brings back distinguished professionals to connect with the student body. He is also the advisor of Green Greeks, an organization driving sustainable change at Purdue.
“I’ve learned so much and am grateful for the opportunities that the Student Soybean Innovation Competition has granted me!”
Brianna (Kate) Barker
Kate Barker is a senior majoring in Agricultural Systems Management. She entered this competition with the goal of learning about entrepreneurship on a more applied level and because of her passion for trying to make people’s lives better. Over the course of the competition, she has gained a more intimate knowledge of soybeans and their properties, which will be applicable to her future job.
Currently, Kate is working for Dr. William Field, doing research on agricultural safety and accident statistics, helping her gather an understanding of facility safety practices, which she will be able to apply to her career. Upon graduation, Kate will be working for Archer Daniels Midland in Illinois. In her free time at Purdue, Kate is an active member of the Golden Silks Colorguard, a section of the Purdue All-American Marching Band.
Zifan Zhu is a senior in Agricultural Systems Management, with a minor in economics. He took part in the competition because he has an interest in innovative lab work and wants to devote what he has learned in agricultural courses into practical products. Before he transferred to Purdue with the 2+2 program, he had lab work experience in Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which helped him fit in the competition.
During his spare time at Purdue, Zifan likes to participate in clubs where he can share his ideas. He is an active member of Purdue organizations like Issues 360, Manrrs, and the Zoo club.
This competition has been a rollercoaster of progress and setbacks. One thing that I’ve enjoyed about this experience is getting to work in a lab. Research has been something that I’ve been interested in for a while, but I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to dive into. I also hadn’t had any internships or other industry experiences, so this is the first time that I’ve tried to apply knowledge that I gained in the class room and from experts to an actual situation to create a tangible product. I feel that the experience of designing my own product has merit and applications in the patent search, market analysis, and marketing of that product, but also in those lab aspects. We’ve had to create multiple procedure for various steps in creating our prototype. We needed to create a procedure for how we’ll create the plastic, how we planned on testing ways to break it down and change it, compressing it, and even making the switch to baking it instead of letting it dry over the course of days. My dream job is in designing pharmaceuticals, so I feel that these aspects will definitely help me in that role, and in any position that I take up along the way. Participating in this competition has been an invaluable experience for me, and I’m really glad that I’ve been able to participate.
By participating in this competition, I learned the different aspects of soy and how they can be utilized to make a marketable product. In addition to this, I also learned how to conduct market research and patent research. I also gained a lot of hands on lab experience which involved creating a lab procedure then changing certain parameters and analyzing how these parameters affected the results. This was extremely challenging yet very rewarding to see the product taking shape and eventually meeting our desired expectations. Working on this competition has really helped me understand what it takes to create a startup. I wish to create my own startup in the near future and the skills I have learned in this competition, which range from brainstorming ideas to final design, will definitely help me with my goal.
This is the second time I joined in the competition. It is not getting any easier compared to last time. Different from last time, our group now has four people instead of two. I learned how important it is to properly communicate with all my team members. I know it will get even harder in the future if we have the larger amount of people working in the one group. This is a great experience for me to feel what it will be like in the future. Compare to last year, we focus on the different perspective to make people's lives better. We even went to actual hog farm to get "sample" in order to have the better understanding of our product. This competition has again helped me to explored larger perspective to people's need. The same kind of analysis and communication skills will definitely use again in the future. I am really glad to participate in this competition again and hopefully, we can really make people's lives better by our innovative product.
During this soybean competitive, I experienced a full cycle of product development including idea verification, patent searching, marketing researching, lab experimenting and packaging. Although I study Computer Engineering, I have always had a great passion in scientific research and real-live product development. Besides, my engineering skill does help the team making some critical decisions like experiment design and market strategy. Working with my teammates, I learned a lot scientific study skill and lab procedures. Dealing with unfamiliar topic, the team and I were to utilize the available resources around us and consult with professors with the technical background to overcome numbers of technical constraints. We also had a chance to visit a local hog farm and actually smelled the odor. This unique experience not only made me realize the severity of the problem but also invoked my passion for our product. Overall, this soybean competitive is my first experience of scientific related product development. It is really different than computer related development like hardware and software. However, it opens a new world for me as it makes understand even if a product looks not as complex as a integrated circuit or a software system, it still requires careful examination, detailed experiment and thoughtful design before getting into the market.
Every team member plays an important role in the project and has great contribution to our overall success. Our Soy Hog Poo-vention performs pretty well in odor reduction and I learned a lot through the whole path. Soybean competition offers a good platform for me to study the process of product innovation through marketing analysis, patent research, product development till final completion. I mainly worked on our product formulation and improvement and we did meet lots of troubles to make our product come true. Most of the concepts for us were not familiar so that we needed to do thorough research and experiments. Also, we met professors to talk about our project and had field trips to actual hog farms which were really helpful for us to understand the whole manure system operation. The great skills I obtained from this competition were information retrieval, experiments design and efficient communication which helped me build more confidence in my future career path.
Experiencing through last soybean competition, and the ASPIRE internship, I have different considerations and directions while researching and solving problems throughout the competition. Last time when we were doing the marketing research, we only looked for the theoretical data basis for the numbers of sales or the numbers of potential problems that need to be solved. Granted, numbers do count. However, numbers do not mean everything for an innovative product. This year, we went to talk with an actual potential customer in the hog farm, and within this one-hour trip, I have received a lot more information than what I have spent a one-hour researched online told me. Besides learning how to manage my time and how to work as a group, I have found myself being braver upon talking to people I don’t know of, and I have improved my interview skill for how to get the most information out from the questions I have asked. This interviewing skill will definitely help me in the future career when I want to study about details of a new thing, or a new place, or a new person. It will help me be more involved in the field I am learning for.
It was an invaluable experience to go through the whole process of ideation, coming up with a novel idea from scratch, and then actually doing the background research, patent search, market analysis, and experimentation. You need to have a high percent of certainty that whatever you are doing is worth the resources that will be needed. Soy-based boba pearls was something that our team believed in, and it was rewarding to actually see the work we have done over the past several months come to fruition. I found that patience and energy was critical to keep pushing forward with the process, and I know this experience will be useful when working in research and industry in the future.
The Purdue University Student Soybean Innovation Competition was a terrific opportunity to experience developing a project from conception through production. The concept of creating my own, unique product guided my major and career choice, so it's exciting to have this research and development experience so early in my career. Through the competition I've learned skills which will help me perform more efficiently in my future endeavours, and I really enjoyed working alongside Purdue students, faculty, and alumni to produce a successful product.
Through this competition, I’ve learned the complexity of introducing a product into a market and being viable. This complexity stems from conducting market research to product formulation to the manufacturing aspects, each of which impact how the product will do once hitting the market. Furthermore, I’ve learned the importance of foresight with product formulation; when making any change or tweak to the product, it is important to think about how that change will affect manufacturing processes, the overall production price, and how it will impact the consumer. All these skills and new learnings are directly relevant to my future endeavors and I seek to work in the research and development department for a food and beverage company where I will be responsible for product formulation or continuous improvement.
This competition has given me the opportunity to bring something tangible to the table. So often in my classes in school, there is a lot of theory and ideation. Mass and energy calculations in idealized situations that don’t mimic real life scenarios. I plan to enter the manufacturing industry post-graduation and this competition has given me a greater understanding of the iterative process.
Through my participation in the soybean competition, I have learned a lot about the technical processes in fermentation, I have learned the chemistry behind generating activated charcoal, and, most importantly, I have learned the importance of market analysis and marketing. In my courses, I have learned a lot of technical processes and chemistry. Learning how to complete market analyses and how to successfully market a product has been the most valuable component of the competition, because it is something I have not done a lot of throughout my academic career. Next year, I will be attending medical school. Although I likely won’t be creating a lot of novel products, I now will be able to analyze products that I purchase and use more efficiently and accurately.
After completing the Soybean Innovation Competition, I learned a lot about creating a product for resale. Much more goes into the product than the formulation. Obtaining the materials in the proper order, problem solving when things do not proceed as planned, and packaging the final product in a way that is appealing to our desired customer are all factors that determine the success of a product. This project also helped stress the importance of making and sticking to deadlines.
One of the most important takeaways I get from this project is the understanding of why it takes so much time to develop a new product. From the brainstorming phase to the initial process flow diagram phase to the prototyping phase there is so much that goes into this process. We learned about this process development in engineering 131 and 132 but to actually go through this process has been an incredible experience.
By participating in the Soybean Innovation Competition, I was able to develop an entrepreneurial spirit and understand the amount of work that goes into taking an idea from the first stages of conception to the final package of a complete product. Not only did I learn the intricate technical knowledge of how our product was produced and exactly what went into formulating it, I also learned more about how to think on my feet, improvise, troubleshoot problems and find innovative solutions.
As a PhD graduate student focusing on food safety, even though I have already been doing research on Listeria monocytogenes for around 4 years, this competition gave me the first chance to develop a product to directly improve the public food safety. While I was faced by all kinds of challenges during development, a goal of launching this product to protect the safety of produce and reduce wastes always pushed me to come up with more solutions. Besides learning more experimental techniques, this competition taught me how to think from business perspective about a research project, evaluate the market value of a product and communicate with audience from different background. Overall, I really enjoy the experience of participating this competition, which definitely helps me prepared to work in industries after graduation.
This project is very close to what I have done in the research lab. It is fascinating to apply what I have been doing for research into a real product. Through this competition, I practiced and improved my ability of designing experiment. The techniques used to develop this product were very basic to me. The hard part of this project is utilizing what I know into well-planned experiment to generate logical and comprehensive results. I also learned how to use video scribe for video editing and adobe illustrator for label designing.
From this competition, I learned a lot about how to plan, design and actually run a long experiment. At the same time, I learned different lab techniques that I might use in the future. I also gained public-speaking skills that will help for me future presentation at work. The most important I learned from this experiment is how to work in the team.
This competition gave me the experience of developing a novel product. I got to learn how to solve a very open-ended problem. I had never been given the chance to develop an actual prototype of an idea I had before. Throughout the course of this competition, I got to learn how to brainstorm ideas for a problem with endless possible solutions. I also got to learn the level of difficulty it takes to make a prototype, let alone a final product ready for the market.
Through this competition, I learned how to troubleshoot and come up with solutions with producing a product design. I was also able to get experience researching markets and learning how to gather data about pricing and the impact of consumers on how markets are driven. Learning different ways to troubleshoot and develop solutions to problems will help me greatly as a future veterinarian as I will need to apply those same skills when determining the diagnosis of my patients.
This is the first time I had to start from the ground up in developing an actual product. Normally in my classes we take an already established idea or principle and learn how to optimize it. This competition has taught me how to see the process starting from the development of ideas to the creation of a final product as an iterative process. I learned how to analyze certain ideas and, although many sound enticing, to establish the validity of performing them with the allocated resources. This is an issue the people have to deal with in the industry all the time and this competition was invaluable in teaching me this concept through example. I have also gained a lot of insight on the patent-search process as well as market analysis. Making a good product is one thing, but making it make money is something completely separate, and that is another lesson I learned from the competition. These are all concepts that I will implement in my future endeavors.
Before starting this competition, I had no idea what propolis was or the different uses it had. By making a soy-based version of propolis, I was able to learn about the different parts of propolis and how each ingredient contributes to how propolis functions. Learning about each component was extremely beneficial in designing a soy-based version. I don’t get much experience reverse-engineering products to better improve the original product, which is a beneficial skill to have and I am grateful to have the opportunity to develop that ability. The lab work I do in my courses lay out the steps you need to do in order to create the end product, but through this project I learned to think critically about each step and consider what could be done differently to help create our target product. This process helped me learn more about the experimental design process and I will be able to utilize these skills as I pursue different research opportunities.
This competition was very different and fresh to me in different aspects. I was always used to following directions from professors and mentors, especially in laboratory settings; however, to develop our product SoyAid, our team had to come up with own procedures and conduct various research in order to successfully obtain the final product. This skill will definitely aid my future career as a biological engineer, especially upon graduation, entering graduate school. Also, a large percentage of learning came from developing skills to cooperate with other team members; as college students, every team member had a tight schedule, therefore finding appropriate times to be in the lab and working on reports was a big struggle. Especially under stress from academics, there were times where this competition was not the priority for many people in our group, including myself. Despite the struggles, my team members and I managed to pull it through, leading me to earn a sense of accomplishments.
Participating in this competition has taught me the importance of conducting self-guided research, being passionate about what you do, and teamwork. Through the whole competition, my team members and I were on our own to come up with ideas for product composition, experimental methods, and develop alternative solutions when issues arose. This was as challenging as it was rewarding because whenever we managed to resolve an issue, I felt like I truly learned a lot. Also, we were all very interested in the idea of developing a soy-based liquid bandage as it is a truly unique product. At times when things got rough, my interest in the project kept me going. Teamwork also played a key role in this competition as we all relied on each other and drew inspirations from each other. I believe I became a better team-player through participating in this competition. I believe all of these things I’ve learned will be valuable to me as a biological engineer, as I will face numerous engineering challenges in the future. This competition was a great opportunity for me to gain a wider biological background which will be useful in the future as well.
In this competition, I gained skills in research that I felt was valuable as this would help me in my future career in food science, not only will it apply to my future career but this skill also applies to my current occupation as a student where research and data collection is a big part of what is expected of me. To be able to develop SoyAid in a schedule as tight as this, I felt that my time management skills are also improved as I am able to balance school work, my job, proper healthcare and be able to make time for this competition. The process of developing SoyAid had many challenges and these were overcome through communication, critical thinking skills, as well as creative thinking as many of the problems had to be analyzed at first then solved through various steps and thinking outside of the box.
I am a junior in Civil Engineering from Kolkata, India. This competition has taught me how determination and discipline along with properly channeled energy can help me accomplish tasks that our beyond something I’ve ever done before in terms of difficulty. It has taught me to step out of my comfort zone and to challenge myself to be better at something. Being a part of this competition has instilled in me the necessary skills and experiences that would help me succeed in a workplace. Being in civil engineering the only hands on work I ever thought of was just on the field, so this competition was also a means for me to try something new and see where it takes me, and it was a journey to discover myself and what I truly love. After going through the multiple stages and learning a lot from each of them, I am sure I have become better at analyzing and problem-solving along with being a healthy team player.
In terms of personal goals, I feel I have learned time management skills and also designing a lab procedure and also improving on them at each step. As a keen follower of business trend and as a student of entrepreneurship, I learned a lot in terms of business aspects relating to a product as well. This took me one step closer to be the entrepreneur and businessman I always wanted to be. It made me think like my product is my business and of ways I can improve it to increase my market size. All in all, it was a really enriching experience and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my friends, professors, our advisors and the other soybean competition teams.
I’m a senior in Chemical Engineering from Maple Grove, MN. I have learned a ton from joining this competition, not only soybean related, but many other skills that come from a team-based project. First and I feel the most important is the idea of running your own show. I couldn’t rely on others to finish the project, it was my team and myself that needed to reach out, prepare to really succeed in the competition. My first day stepping into lab I had a sudden realization that I wasn’t there to complete a set of instructions left by the instructor, but instead I needed to figure out what to do to improve my product. This feeling I honestly thought was amazing, and I’m glad this competition can allow teams to have such a sense of independence and competitiveness. Besides this very real feel to the competition it allowed me to improve my communication skills, time management, and self-discipline.
These traits I feel are wonderful individual and group skills that will only help when working with group projects and solo projects. I really feel that I’ve learned time management, because unlike many school projects, I couldn’t wait till the last minute and pull an all-nighter. Overall, this competition is a very good experience to learn how cut-throat the real world is and provides a unique opportunity to learn good habits that are enormously important for any major project to be taken seriously.
This competition has taught me many things about myself, along with preparing me for what professionally lies ahead of me. I’ve always been an extremely ambitious individual, and this competition has given me the perfect tool to learn how to tunnel and hone that ambition into something that can be utilized in a team setting. My involvement in the competition has ranged from managing the cost-benefit analysis of SoyTack all the way to problem solving the issues of our tackifier with Terence. I’ve made every effort during the competition to set up team meetings and to frequently update our advisors on the team’s endeavors.
This competition has taught me the meaning of time management, as well as the importance of communication and team- work. As we all have learned more about each other’s professional strengths and weaknesses, the team has worked together to play off of everyone’s strengths and abilities. As I aspire to be a strong and responsible leader and manager in my professional career, I’ll take these lessons that I’ve learned from this competition and will re- member what kinds of things can be achieved when people come together and tirelessly strive to reach a common goal.
There are several very important things that I have learned from this project. While it seems that I learn some of these lessons with projects all the time, they seem to be more apparent as they apply to something that seems to be more relevant to my future other than some school project. To start with, better time management strategies is something that has really hit me as something I have learned better. While I have been working on this for a while, it is all the more apparent that I need to have better skills with this. In addition to this, I have learned that working with a team requires much more communication than I like to have with people sometimes. While email and texting gets you a ways and leaving notes for people, there is nothing better than having a good old-fashioned conversation with your team to discuss what has been happening, what you are doing currently, and what needs to be done. This always helps people stay within the timeline and guarantee everything is going to turn out well.
As for the future, this competition will help show employers my experience with other people and how all of this can work together to make me a better employee in general. To complement this, I am hoping to go into some sort of management position, so this experience will help me to know more of the ideas behind how other people do their work and help me be able to better work with them in the future.
There are a limited number of research and design opportunities at Purdue that are as accessible as the Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition. The competition attracts students of all majors and academic levels, and encourages prospective competitors to socialize and find teams that fit their talents and philosophies, and to pursue new and innovative products instead of building on others’ research. The project moves through all phases of fabrication, from design to prototyping to final production, and all within one academic year. The most significant takeaway from this competition, for me, is the recognition of the work required to go from the drawing board to a final product, and the importance of ensuring the team is always making forward progress; once a project begins to fall behind, some aspects of the project may suffer in favor of getting caught up. By setting specific deliverables and firm deadlines, it mimics real-world design challenges, and allowed me to improve my skills regarding all phases of the process.
The Soy Innovation Competition is a really neat opportunity to create a product and learn about not only the technical aspects of its development, but also to learn about the marketing side of production. It is cool to be able to apply science that I have learned in class in developing a product and understanding why it works the way that it does. Furthermore, I have learned a lot about areas that are not covered in my studies. As a Biological Engineer, I am in both the College of Agriculture and Engineering; however, I feel that the majority of my classes are much more engineering focused. Through the Soy Innovation Competition, I have learned much more about the agricultural side of things, for example, I had to get pesticide training to work in the greenhouses, and I learned a lot about erosion control.
Another way that the Soy Innovation Competition is unique is that it is up to the team to create a new, useful product. I am interested in a career in research and development, so having some hands-on experience will benefit me in my job search. Additionally, looking into the technical feasibility and the commercial production of a product is something that is obviously very important, but is something that I had not given a whole lot of consideration.