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Viratect team places second in Schurz Innovation Challenge at Purdue

Viratect, which offers a platform of disease diagnostics at the point of care, placed second in the Schurz Innovation Challenge on Dec. 8 and also was chosen as the crowd favorite. Andrew Witten, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, and Katherine Clayton, a fifth-year doctoral student in mechanical engineering, teamed up to create the device, which can be used to predict the next outbreak of a disease around the world.

The device consists of a blood sample reader that fits over the camera of a smartphone and an app with an algorithm that can determine if there is a pathogen and what it is.

"We got involved in the Schurz competition because we really wanted to get our names out there and are very excited about our idea," Clayton said.

The team received $3,500 for the second place finish and $500 for the popular vote.

Schurz Communications Inc. sponsors the competition, which is organized by Purdue Foundry. It provides participants the opportunity to test their creativity and skills in developing innovative ideas in media technology. Participants developed and demonstrated prototypes that were judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and media professionals. Thirteen teams competed in this semester's competition, and each team was required to have at least one Purdue graduate student or undergraduate student.

Schurz Communications Inc., is a Mishawaka, Indiana-based news and information company that consists of cable, newspaper publishing and digital media. The company publishes daily and weekly newspapers in medium and small markets. It also owns cable companies and phone directories. Geographically, Schurz Communications has a presence in Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.