Micro Drones, Autonomous Composting Bins and Mixed-Reality Gaming Top Embry-Riddle’s Annual Entrepreneurship Expo
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s ninth-annual TREP Expo presented its first Veteran Entrepreneurs Award to Limitless Aeronautics for the company’s micro uncrewed air vehicle (UAV) swarm system, Nov. 16 on the Daytona Beach Campus.
“We’re getting ready for flight tests,” said Alexander Gardner, the junior Aerospace Engineering student who serves as Limitless Aeronautics’ CEO and chief designer. “We have a functioning prototype, custom flight computers and all the software we are building in-house.”
Gardner said the swarm system is designed to be rapidly adapted for a variety of uses and could be used by the military, medical and emergency services, and law enforcement agencies.
The $1,500 award was the second prize in two days the student-founded company won for its project. Limitless Aeronautics also won first place and a $10,000 prize at the 2023 Volusia County Innovation Challenge, held Nov. 15 by the University of Central Florida - Volusia County Business Incubator. Besides Gardner, the Limitless Aeronautics team includes Aerospace Engineering student Nyameaama Gambrah and Business student and veteran Tre'Vaughn Sheppard.
Limitless Aeronautics was just one of 39 student-led startups that showcased ideas at TREP Expo, which is sponsored by Embry-Riddle’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the David B. O’Maley College of Business. The event aims to test the commercial viability, innovativeness and overall interest of entrepreneurship concepts, said Dr. Ramy A. Rahimi, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as assistant professor of Entrepreneurship.
Teams present concepts in a poster session and pitch them before a panel of scholars and industry experts for a chance to win $1,500 in cash prizes in four categories (called “flights”): the Aviation, Aerospace and Engineering flight; Space Technology Repurposed; Global Products and Services; and Veteran Entrepreneurs. The TREP Expo, which is open to students, alumni, faculty and staff, also awards $500 in cash prize to one “People’s Choice” winner.
“When we invest our time in our students, the payoffs can be extraordinary,” said Dr. Shanan G. Gibson, dean of the David B. O’Maley College of Business.
Engineering student Megan Robards’ project Veritech, a self-regulating autonomous compost bin, won the Aviation, Aerospace and Engineering Award. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Bernard Wilchusky)
Aviation, Aerospace and Engineering Award: Veritech
Veritech won the Aviation, Aerospace and Engineering flight for its self-regulating autonomous compost bin that aims to reduce food waste.
Megan Robards, a Mechanical Engineering major with a minor in Business Administration, said the idea arose when she was in high school in Colorado Springs. Her Future Farmers of America club needed compost for its gardens, and she used her robotics team experience to devise a more efficient solution to produce it. Her project ended up winning in two divisions at a competition and she has taught other students how to build and fix the composting device.
“I want to market this to schools and possibly cities,” said Robards. “There’s been a lot of good information and ideas that the judges have given me at the expo.”
Mechanical Engineering student Reed Curry talks about his team’s company, Inter-Reality Combat Sports, which won the expo’s Global Products and Services Award for its mixed-reality gaming experience. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Bernard Wilchusky)
Global Products and Services Award: Inter-Reality Combat Sports
Inter-Reality Combat Sports, led by a team of three Engineering students, won the Global Products and Services Award for its mixed-reality gaming experience, described as a combination of video gaming and paintball.
“We bring video gaming to life and overlay virtual onto physical reality,” said Reed Curry, Mechanical Engineering major. “The possibilities are endless.”
Curry said he and his roommate Alexander Emmolo, an Aerospace Engineering major, got the idea their freshman year of bringing a physical component to competitive gaming. They envision competitors wearing VR headsets and battling it out in physical tournaments, in indoor courses.
Aerospace Engineering student Jaylon Wilson joined as the third member of their team and is the project’s computing and technical expert. The team has built a prototype gun that doubles as a video controller and shoots water beads. They also used plastic piping and clear plastic sheeting to build an indoor course.
“We want to go to different colleges and create leagues,” said Emmolo. “If there’s a dodgeball league, there is definitely a space for this.”
Pulse Guard Connect won the Space Technology Repurposed flight for its device to monitor/diagnose heart issues better than an average portable Electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. Pictured from left: Dr. Ramy A. Rahimi, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and assistant professor of Entrepreneurship; Dr. Kelly M. Austin, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost; Pulse Guard Connect teammates Shane Hall, Ronaldo Baily, Corey Troxler; and Dr. Shanan Gibson, dean of the David B. O'Maley College of Business. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/David Massey)
Space Technology Repurposed Award: Pulse Guard Connect
Pulse Guard Connect won the Space Technology Repurposed flight for its device to monitor/diagnose heart issues better than an average portable Electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. Using NASA technology, the team’s heart monitor is able to capture more data than current single-lead systems because it uses 12 leads.
Troxler said his own experience with heart issues led to the idea for the project.
“If I had access to 12-lead portable devices, I could have captured one of my heart episodes and gotten treatment sooner,” Troxler said.
Evgeniia Egorova, a senior Business student, explains her team’s project, BestFits, which won the competition’s People’s Choice Award. BestFits is an app for online shopping that creates a virtual version of the shopper’s physique, so they can see how an outfit may actually fit them. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Bernard Wilchusky)
People’s Choice Award: BestFits
The competition’s People’s Choice award, which has a $500 prize, was awarded to BestFits, an app created to improve online shopping by a team of three Business students.
The app aims to make online shopping more successful and reduce returns by creating a virtual version of the shopper’s physique, said Evgeniia Egorova, a senior Business student and president of the Student Government Association.
“The app makes an avatar based on your body image using AI technology that can ‘try on’ online clothes for a customer to determine if the clothes would match your looks,” teammate Ognjen Srbinovic added. The team’s third team member is student Samuel Rivera.
The TREP Expo’s keynote speaker was Daytona Beach City Manager Deric C. Feacher. A discussion panel, moderated by Rahimi and featuring Greg Johnson, president and CEO of Tuvoli; Vincent Monteparte, principal of Global Capital Markets; Megan Victor with NASA’s Technology Transfer program; Neil Carew, principal at PSG Equity; and Paul A. Sohl, CEO of the Florida High Tech Corridor, was also included.
“The CIE and participants extend heartfelt thanks to our partners — the African American Entrepreneurs Association, City of Daytona Beach and NACCE Everyday Entrepreneur and Drive Programs — for their pivotal support that fuels innovation and entrepreneurship. Your commitment to empowering emerging talents has been a driving force behind the success of the TREP Expo,” said Rahimi.