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2021 Student Innovator of the Year Winners

Despite the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Student Innovator of the Year Competition proved as successful as years past. Innovations ranged from improvements on laparoscopic tools to clutter free activities for families.

After much anticipation, the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Marriott School of Management hosted the 11th annual Student Innovator of the Year (SIOY) finals on March 24.

The event happened under unique circumstances, due to precautions taken to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Judges joined over Zoom, the audience watched and voted through various livestream formats, and masks covered the faces of all teams awaiting their turn to present on live video in front of the judges.

Regardless, students were still excited to participate and present. “It’s very exhilarating and a little nerve wracking,” said competitor Bryan Stringham.

Similar to years past, student innovations were judged on three categories: 45 percent engineering, 35 percent innovation, and 20 percent impact. Cash prizes went to the top three places, and an additional cash prize was awarded to the audience-picked finals favorite. All seven finalists received $4,000.

The 2021 winner and finals favorite: LaparoVision. The creators Amanda Lytle Bartschi and Jacob Sheffield won $12,000. Their economical innovation improves the safety of laparoscopic procedures by attaching a self-cleaning device for the lens used in surgery. Both beamed when accepting their reward, and Bartschi later commented that “we need more ladies…come out and put your foot forward and just do the best you can!”

Bartschi will graduate in April 2022 with a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and a minor Design Thinking. She plans to continue working in the biomedical industry. Sheffield will graduate in April 2022 with a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and an emphasis in Biomedical Product Design. He plans to continue with LaparoVision and work in the medical industry.

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Both Bartschi and Sheffield beamed when accepting their reward, and Barschi later commented that “we need more ladies…come out and put your foot forward and just do the best you can!”

Runner-up MagTrax earned $10,000 for their family fun focused innovation. The innovator, Stringham, created this obstacle building game using magnets and marbles to enhance both efficiency and entertainment. Magtrax offers over 25 different track pieces, helping kids to grow their creativity and problem solving skills. Because it uses the wall as a base, instead of the floor, it also helps reduce clutter in the home.

Stringham will graduate in April 2022 with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He plans to continue his work with MagTrax.

Third place winner Skapa took home $8,000. Jacob Buhler, Connor Lindsey, and Spencer Curtis started the Skapa app to help improve the lives of neurodiverse children (e.g. autism) and their parents. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 children were diagnosed with a developmental disability, as reported by parents, from 2009-2017. Skapa improves these children’s daily functioning with a personalized scheduler that provides both routine and reward, allowing parents to organize everything according to their needs.

Buhler, Curtis, and Lindsey recently graduated with their bachelor’s in April 2021. Buhler majored in Chemical Engineering and has plans to be a business analyst at McKinsey & Company. Curtis majored in Mechanical Engineering and minored in Scandanavian Studies. He has plans to be a project engineer at Stryker Medical. Lindsey majored in Computer Science and has plans to be a software engineer at Rivet.

Now, students may apply for the upcoming 2022 SIOY Competition to have a chance at winning $12,000 for their innovation! Each application must include an executive summary of the product/idea, product sketches, the origin of the idea, the impact it has on the community, how the innovation differs from other products, and the bill of materials and funding requests. Click here to apply or learn more.

Read about all seven finalist innovations below, in the words of the students who created them.

BYU's Student Innovator of the Year 2021 Recap

Student Innovator of the Year 2021 Finalists

LaparoVision will reduce surgical error and improve workflow efficiency during millions of laparoscopic procedures a year by swiftly cleaning the lens inside the patient, rather than the timely and current practice of completely removing the scope. LaparoVision is a more efficient, safe, and economical solution to a widespread problem. Watch their submission video to learn more.

MagTrax is a modular magnetic marble track that destroys boredom and boosts creativity without creating clutter! It is made of 25+ types of magnetic track pieces including loop-de-loops, funnels, and even one that can turn off your light. Each kit includes metal plates and reusable wall putty so they can be built anywhere. Order now at! Watch their submission video to learn more.

Skapa is an app that enables parents to create custom routines and rewards for their neurodiverse children (autism, ADHD, etc). Neurodiverse children often require constant supervision to start and perform a routine. It can become quite taxing to a parent as they must keep track of all of the routines and all the rewards they have "promised." Watch their submission video to learn more.

Footcore PRO
The FootCore PRO is the first home therapy device that directly addresses the biomechanics of the foot responsible for flat feet, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and a host of other foot problems. Its patented design reteaches the patient's arch to support the body's weight and propel it forward. Watch their submission video to learn more.

Geneial is developing a privacy-preserving and patent pending genetic data search engine and marketplace. Our mission is to help relieve human suffering through the creation of a decentralized worldwide network of genomic biobanks that connects biobanks to each other and to researchers. Watch their submission video to learn more.

The Orion Belt
The Orion Belt is a 360 degree LED band that emits a 12 foot field of light, allowing its users to see and be seen during the night. This belt can be used by professionals or the general public, improving the safety of their night-time activity. It’s waterproof, lightweight, and comes with a custom magnetic closure feature battery. With a battery size that allows six hours of usage, the Orion Belt is both effective and reliable.

Specktrum Air
Specktrum Air is an air sanitization device that employs UV-C light-emitting diodes to kill pathogens in the air we breathe. We are working to build an efficient and compact device with applications in vehicular air flow systems, building HVAC systems, masks, and portable devices. Watch their submission video to learn more.