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Iron Range Engineering students win entrepreneur award
Minnesota Cup, for beakthrough ideas
Students win $10,000 statewide innovative entrepreneur award.
Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release [8-31-11]
Two Minnesota State University, Mankato Iron Range Engineering students who developed a lightweight, portable generator that operates on multiple fuels have won the student division of the Minnesota Cup, honoring innovative entrepreneurs.
Matt Hudson and Eric Schaupp, students in Minnesota State Mankato’s Iron Range Engineering program at Mesabi Range Community & Technical College in Virginia, Minn., will receive $10,000 in seed capital for engineering a lightweight, portable power generator that can run on various fuels, such as kerosene, ethanol or gas.
The generator produces power for anything from a cell phone to a building. “We’ve taken two technologies that are undeveloped and combined them in a way that no one has done before,” said Hudson, a Shoreview, Minn., senior.
Eric Schaup (left) and Matt Hudson (right)
“Both of us are interested in clean tech and clean energy and wanted to develop a generator that can efficiently produce electricity,” added Schaupp, a senior from Andover, Minn.
The generator initially would be targeted for use by the residential energy market, though it has potential for use in Third World countries as well, he said. An estimated 1.6 billion people on the planet have no ready access to electricity.
“This award recognizes the kind of creativity and innovation that our faculty instill in our students to solve real-world problems,” said Minnesota State Colleges & Universities Chancellor Steven Rosenstone. “The Iron Range engineering program, which relies on project-based learning, is a national model.”
“The Iron Range Engineering program allows community college engineering students to continue their education and get four-year engineering degrees from Minnesota State Mankato,” said the university's president, Richard Davenport. “This is an innovative public-private partnership that blends theory with hands-on learning, and it’s becoming a national model. We and our engineering faculty are proud to partner with the Northeast Minnesota Higher Education District and Mesabi Range Community & Technical College, and we’re especially proud of Eric and Matt. Congratulations to them.”
John Stavig, director of the University of Minnesota’s Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, which organizes the competition, said, “The judges viewed the generator as the biggest idea – the most innovative idea – the one with the largest market potential in the student division.”
Twenty-nine teams competed in the student division.
“It was great to see student entrepreneurs take an innovative approach by applying existing technologies to address important problems in power generation,” Stavig said. “They’re passionate about the potential, and we’re optimistic that with the right approach and partners, their idea can make a difference.”
Hudson earned two associate degrees from Century College before entering Minnesota State Mankato’s Iron Range Engineering program. He said he and Schaupp are looking for companies that build generators to buy or lease their technology.
Schaupp completed two years at Anoka-Ramsey Community College before transferring to the Iron Range program.
As winners of the student division, Hudson and Schaupp will compete for the Minnesota Cup grand prize on Monday, Sept. 8. The overall winner receives $25,000 in seed capital.
Iron Range Engineering – the first program of its kind in Minnesota – is a hands-on, project-based engineering degree program hosted by Mesabi Range Community & Technical College in Virginia, and offered through Minnesota State Mankato.
Students who have successfully completed two years of engineering study can enroll in Iron Range Engineering for their third and fourth years. They get real-world instruction from professionals at companies throughout northeastern Minnesota, and earn engineering bachelor’s degrees on the Iron Range.
Iron Range Engineering faculty member Ron Ulseth and Minnesota State Mankato business management faculty member Queen Booker encouraged Hudson and Schaupp in their project.
“Prof. Ulseth told us to go for the Minnesota Cup, and with the help of Dr. Booker on the business, marketing and sales, we were successful,” Hudson said.
The annual Minnesota Cup, founded in 2005 by Wells Fargo and the University of Minnesota, seeks and supports breakthrough ideas from promising entrepreneurs. Participants in the student division must be full- or part-time undergraduate or graduate students at a Minnesota college or university.
More information about the Minnesota Cup is at http://www.breakthroughideas.org/page/1/About-MN-Cup.jsp.