Alumni showcase new ideas

May 6, 2015

By Brad Allen

The first step toward changing the world is having an idea; UW-Whitewater students and alumni did just that when they presented their startup business ideas at the 2015 Innovators’ Spring Showcase.

The event is organized at the end of each semester, and allows entrepreneurs from the Whitewater community to showcase their  work.

The showcase included presentations from many local startup companies, including iButtonlink, Crowds.io, iHub, Infrastructure Inspectors, Intern Betas and the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization.

The 2015 Innovators’ Spring Showcase was held on April 29 at the Whitewater University Technology Park Innovation Center.

Freshman Cody Hooper shared his thoughts on the various companies’ presentations.

“It was interesting to see so many outside foundations,” Hooper said. “I honestly had no idea that any of this existed.”

Hooper attended the event to fulfill an out of class event attendance requirement.

“I just thought that people go to college, graduate and then get a job,” Hooper said. “I didn’t know there were this many opportunities to still be involved in UW-Whitewater after graduation.”

The Infrastructure Inspectors company uses radio controlled quad-copters to inspect water towers and take images, videos and readings in order to find problem areas of the structures, according to Lucas Fiene.

“We show these findings to the municipality, because they don’t have pictures or readings, so we sell that information to them, and a lot of times we save them a lot of money,” Fiene said.

Fiene enjoys flying the quad-copters and attending trade shows to speak with possible clients about his company.

Alex Steeno, who also attended the showcase, is the chief solutions architect of the Intern Betas team.

“Intern Betas tries to create synergy between interns and startups,” Steeno said. “We’re a multi-faceted platform for interns to build their skills and for startups to recruit their teams.”

The goal of Intern Betas is to pair interns with startups in order for interns to gain experience and later create their own startups. The cycle will continuously repeat itself, according to Steeno.

Intern Betas provides interns with valuable entrepreneurial experience, which attributes to a reduction in the skill gap that currently exists between employer expectations and the actual skills possessed by graduates, Steeno said.

After the showcase, a tour of a 3-D printing lab in the Innovation Center was given to students, faculty and members of the community.  Paul Boland has been working the Innovation Center’s 3-D printing workshop for a year.

“I enjoy being able to work with businesses to create their prototypes,” Boland said. “I’m an artist, it’s a form of creativity. I’m creating something that somebody else has designed. That’s kind of exciting.”

The 3-D printing workshop has worked with and done 3-D printings for several businesses in the area, including Thermal Data, Whitewater Manufacturing, Harley Davison and Scanalytics.

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