Transcend Madison competition rewards student innovation with $60,000 in prizes

Transcend Madison competition rewards student innovation with $60,000 in prizes

A screenshot from an EduReality demo shows chemistry students putting together molecules in a virtual laboratory. The startup aims to offer a virtual reality alternative to in-person labs for college students. Courtesy of EduReality

A screenshot from an EduReality demo shows chemistry students putting together molecules in a virtual laboratory. The startup aims to offer a virtual reality alternative to in-person labs for college students. Courtesy of EduReality

 

University of Wisconsin student innovators took home more than $60,000 in prizes last week for business pitches to design virtual reality science labs, teach young kids to swallow pills, and more.

Transcend Madison, the annual competition launched in 2017, is the largest student-run innovation competition in the country, organizers say. It’s organized by Transcend UW, a student organization designed to bring together entrepreneurial students from all disciplines.

Taking home the top prize in the Main Stage contest was EduReality, a startup that aims to create a virtual reality to in-person college science labs. Virtual reality labs could serve more students than a physical lab might have space for and allow students to simulate using the latest technology, rather than the sometimes decades-old equipment in campus labs, said co-founder Taylor Waddell, a senior studying mechanical engineering and computer science.

Plus, the virtual tools could let students do things that would never be possible in person, said co-founder Clayton Custer, a senior studying environmental science and computer science. β€œIt’s completely unsafe to stare up the nozzle of a rocket as it fires, but in VR, that’s totally fine. You can even step into a nuclear reactor and really get a unique take on what’s going on, instead of just reading about it in a textbook.”

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