Winners of UAF’s 2021 Arctic Innovation Competition
The UAF School of Management gave out more than $40,000 in cash prizes and awards after the 2021 Arctic Innovation Competition’s final presentations Saturday, April 17.
The competition, now in its 12th year, invites innovators to propose new, feasible, and potentially profitable ideas for solving real-life problems and challenges.
The top prize of $10,000 in the main division, for ages 18 and up, was awarded to Thimira Thilakarathna for his small-scale barley threshing and winnowing machine. While spending a summer living with former UAF professor and provost Paul Reichardt and master gardener Terry Reichardt, he saw how they struggled to hand-process the barley they grow. So he designed and built a blender-sized machine to thresh and winnow barley for small-scale gardeners.
“It is great to have this kind of event that is open to kids,” says Thilakarathna, a graduate student in electrical engineering at UAF. “I got interested in inventions as a child because of these types of competitions. My hope is that AIC will keep the kids excited about developing their ideas.”
In the junior division for youth ages 13 to 17 years old, Danika Dawley took home the first prize of $1,000 for Back-Up Buoy, which enables the retrieval of underwater fishing gear if it is severed from its primary buoy. If the primary buoy fails, a simple computer system releases a canister of compressed air into a deflated, submerged vinyl buoy. The vinyl buoy floats to the surface and allows the retrieval of the attached equipment.
In the cub division for youth ages 12 and under, Johnathan Verhagen won first place and $500 for AirDrone Filtr. This idea is designed to address air quality problems in the Arctic due to temperature inversions that trap pollutants near the ground. The AirDrone Filtr cleans the air of pollutants, chemicals, toxins, and dust using an ionizer and a HEPA filter.
Top prize and honorable mention winners in the three divisions came from communities across Alaska — Anchorage, Fairbanks, Girdwood, Homer, Nenana, Nome, North Pole, Palmer, Soldotna, and Tok. A complete list of winners is available at www.arcticinno.com.
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