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Student innovator showcase features BYU students with bright ideas

Showcase participants presented creative solutions to real-world problems.

SIOY Showcase 2024-1
Photo by Kyle Gilmour

An electric snowboard. A cancer detector. A productivity app. From medical devices to recreational gadgets, from software solutions to helpful household products, a wide array of inventions appeared in BYU’s recent Student Innovator of the Year (SIOY) showcase.

The Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering, Weidman Center, and Marriott School of Management together host this annual competition to help BYU students bring their innovative ideas to life. Winners and audience favorites receive thousands of dollars to further develop their designs. Past SIOY success stories include Owlet, Myostorm, PhoneSoap, and more.

The showcase gave competitors an opportunity to pitch their products to judges and the public. Over 900 guests attended the event and voted for their favorite creations. The most popular project was Unzipper, a device that automatically retrieves zipline trolleys after riders dismount.

Meanwhile, the competition judges—a group of industry engineers, business owners, and BYU staff—scored projects based on three categories: engineering, innovation, and impact.

Jeremy Read, an electrical engineering student who developed a wearable device to help people with ADHD regain their focus, commented on this scoring system.

“I think what's unique about [SIOY] is the focus on engineering,” Read said. “All the other presentations we've done, the focus has been on the product and on the experience ... but here, the engineering is out in the open, it's judged, and it's a big part of how you win.”

SIOY Showcase 2024-2
Photo by Kyle Gilmour

This year’s SIOY participants come from a variety of backgrounds: guided BYU initiatives like the Sandbox program, student associations like the Engineering Design Club, and independent innovators.

“I just saw the posters around campus, and I was like, ‘Hey, I love making stuff. I love inventing things. This seems just right up my alley,’” said computer engineering student Marc Blocker, who was inspired to develop an asphalt repair product after working on a road maintenance crew over the summer.

“That's the cool thing about SIOY. You can branch outside your discipline,” Blocker said. “It's opened up a lot of opportunities that I don't think I would have had otherwise.”

Out of over fifty teams that participated in the showcase, only seven were selected by judges to move on to the last round of the competition. Each finalist team received $4,000 and the opportunity to win additional awards at the SIOY finals on February 29—$8,000 for first place, $6,000 for second, and $4,000 for third.

“There are several here that are world-changing kinds of things,” said one competition judge.

“Some of them will turn into amazing products,” said another judge. “Whether it goes farther or turns into something or not, I think there's so much to learn."

Emma and Marshall Butter, siblings who designed a motorized sunshade for cars, attested to the learning opportunities offered by SIOY.

“It is a sacrifice,” Marshall said. “It’s a lot of work outside of homework time to do this.”

“We both got two hours of sleep last night,” Emma added.

“But I think it's worth it because of the knowledge we gain, even if we don’t win any money,” Marshall said.

Developing solutions to real problems helped participants learn practical skills. After hearing an insulin pump user complain about the device’s tendency to overheat, one SIOY team created an insulin pump carrier with a built-in cooling system. Computer engineering student Jocelyn Cortes expressed gratitude for everything she learned from working on the project.

“I'm a freshman, so this was all a learning experience,” Cortes said. “[It] has been really helpful in understanding that as I continue to learn and grow and understand more concepts, that I will be able to continue to apply them.”

SIOY participants came away from the showcase with entrepreneurial experience, expert input, and exposure to a wide range of engineering ideas.

“The possibilities really are endless when it comes to technology and innovation,” Cortes said.

To learn more about SIOY and this year’s finalists, visit

SIOY Showcase 2024-3
Photo by Kyle Gilmour