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Teamwork and creativity on display as undergraduate students compete at Malott Innovation Awards

The Malott Innovation Awards consist of a two-day competition at the end of each fall and spring semester between groups enrolled in ME 463. On Friday, December 6, competition concluded with three student teams receiving awards for their designs.

ME 463, the capstone of the Senior Design Capstone course, allows mechanical engineering students to take a hands-on approach to design with practical experience in critical thinking. Students work closely with faculty members to build and improve prototypes by putting to use the knowledge they have learned in their engineering courses over the last four years. At the end of the semester, the students showcase their team-based projects and compete in the Malott Innovation Awards.

The Malott Innovation Awards consist of a two-day competition at the end of each fall and spring semester between groups enrolled in ME 463. Supported by an endowment created in 2007 by Dr. Thomas J. Malott and Sandra H. Malott to support faculty efforts to integrate concepts of innovation into the mechanical engineering curriculum, the competition works in tandem with the course objectives of promoting creativity and imagination in product development and provides an excellent finish to the course.

Each senior design project is initially reviewed by a group of ME faculty members in order to select the projects that will move forward to be judged by an external panel.  Of the 11 student teams that made it to the second round, only 5 teams were invited to give full presentations the following day.  The judging panel is generally comprised of Mechanical Engineering Alumni. The Fall 2013 Malott Innovation Awards were judged by Dr. Ken Haselby BSME ’64, M.D. ’71; Mr. John D. Mellott BSME ’60; Mr. Gary W. Powers BSME ’80, MSE ’85; Mrs. Stephanie Severance BSME ’06, and Mr. Stanley G. Tebbe BSME ’67, MSIA ’68, DEA ’83, OME ’91, and Krannert DAA ’94.

Innovation and Teamwork

The Malott Innovation Awards gives outgoing seniors the chance to show off their hard work that represents the culmination of their years of education. All of the countless hours spent in labs, working on homework, memorizing formulas, and sitting in class have all led up to this one event, the final step in the students’ undergraduate career.

But the awards are not simply given to the most original and unique projects. The students must be able to sell the judges on their product with a particular emphasis highlighting the innovation(s) with their project. Each group selects one member to act as a representative that will showcase the group’s product and informational poster to the guest judges on the first night of the event. In order to be selected for the next round, the representative must convince the judges of their product’s creativity, usefulness, and value. Another key element of the Malott Awards is to promote group cohesiveness. Throughout the course, students are taught that design is a collaborative methodology and are taught skills like leadership, teamwork, communication, and project planning.

And the winner is…

While each team clearly benefits from the course, only one may be declared the overall winner at the Malott Innovation Awards. For the Fall 2013 semester, the coveted first place award went to Purdue Prop Pullers for their design of a self-propelled, electric powered portable tow bar. Team NMotion came in second place with their low friction board, designed to allow hip and fracture patients to perform the essential exercises and physical therapy while bedridden. Finally, in third place was EnCore with their development of a discrete water-recirculating vest, which the user can wear above or below their typical workout attire to increase their exercise performance and decrease their core body temperature.

First Palce:  Purdue Prop Pullers - Matt Hollars, Sagar Sinha, Mark Roberts, Emily Morin


Second Place:  NMotion - Robert Groselak, Iyll-Joon Doh, Terri Bong, Annie Hudson, Caroline Horn-not pictured


Third Place:  EnCore - Max Alexander, Jake Kalis, Zafar Khan, Evan Mills

Writer: Heather Coar, 765-494-1299,
Source: Professor John Starkey