Malott Innovation Awards showcase senior design projects

This semester's projects included a walker designed to climb or descend stairs, kitchen cabinets with integrated stepstools, and a truck hitch that would allow multiple tractor-trailers to platoon with a hard connection, while in motion.

The Malott Innovation Awards are the culmination of ME463, Purdue's capstone class for seniors in Mechanical Engineering.  Teams of students work closely with faculty members to create prototype products, continually refining and improving them using the knowledge from their engineering courses over the last four years. At the end of the semester, the students present their final prototypes to a panel of Purdue ME alumni who work in various industries; this panel selects the top three teams, who all receive cash awards.

The top teams from the Fall 2018 Malott Innovation Awards are:

1st place: Next Step, a walker for elderly or disable patients that can adjust to climb or descend steps while walking forwards. Team members: Adalberto Gonzalez, Beatrice Lim, Cara Birschbach, Peerapak Adsavakulchai, Jaclyn Kowalski, Peter Zibley.


2nd place: B&G Kitchen Solutions, a system of cabinets which automatically deploy a stepstool from underneath, so the user can reach higher cabinets.  Team members: Arlo Eitzer, Mitchell Volpe, Nick Kehlor, Will Whalen, Michael Barteck, Adam Cuculich.


3rd place: Active Hitch, a system that advances the concept of tractor-trailer platooning by allowing two trucks to securely link up with a hard connection, while both are still in motion.  This project was sponsored by ZF.  Team members: Yuxin Zhou, Yibo Cheng, Haozheng Qu, Junlan Lu, Shihao Cheng, Xiyao Wang


Special Engineering Award: Pod Police received special recognition for finding a solution to a specific engineering problem.  Tide Pods are being stolen at a disproportionate rate, and the team engineered a method for integrating theft-deterrent devices into the existing packaging process.  This project was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble.  Team members: Chad Amos, Stevie Andress, Matt Blaisdell, Andrew Clark, Jack Kurfman, Katie Polson.


About the Malott Innovation Awards

The Malott Innovation Awards are supported by an endowment created in 2007 by Thomas J. Malott (BSME '62, HDR '02), to foster an innovation culture among Purdue Mechanical Engineering students.  Malott is the former president, CEO and director of Siemens Energy and Automation.  His career included executive positions with Parker-Hannifin and the Ransburg Corp., as well as serving on several corporate boards.  He was an inaugural member of the Purdue Foundation Development Council and was awarded the Outstanding Mechanical Engineer and Distinguished Engineering Alumnus awards in 1991 from the university.


Writer: Jared Pike,, 765-496-0374

Source: Greg Jensen,, 765-496-0214