CAES Announces Winner of Baby Shark Tank Competition

Published online: Oct 05, 2020 Articles
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IDAHO FALLS – Xingyue Yang, a visualization researcher at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), won the inaugural CAES Annual Pitch Event (CAPE), also known as Baby Shark Tank. Yang’s idea to use unmanned aerial vehicles to create enhanced visualization capabilities to train firefighting forces beat out nine other finalists in the competition.

The CAPE/Baby Shark Tank competition was launched in August by the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), a research, education and innovation consortium consisting of the Department of Energy’s INL and the public research universities of Idaho and Wyoming: Boise State University, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, and University of Wyoming. Everyone in the CAES community was eligible to participate – students and faculty at the universities and researchers at INL – and CAPE was open to all levels of ideas, from early-stage concepts to investment-ready research.

Designed to help transfer the innovation and research that thrive at CAES from the laboratory to the commercial sector, the goal of this year’s CAPE/Baby Shark Tank event was to teach the participants how to convince others – funding agencies, potential industry partners or even investors – to take action in support of an idea. The competition began with 33 registrants. Each was offered access to training via the CO*STAR and Rapid Idea Improvement Session (RIIS) methods. The field was cut to 18 in early September, and the finals featured 10 participants competing for cash prizes worth nearly $4,000. Each finalist had five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges: Dr. Marianne Walck, INL deputy laboratory director for Science and Technology and chief research officer; Dr. Donna Lybecker, ISU acting vice president for Research and Economic Development; Corey McDaniel, INL Industry Engagement director and chief commercial officer; Nicolas Miller, executive director of the Venture College at Boise State University; and Nick Crabbs, co-chair of Boise Startup Week and Founding member of VYNYL.

Yang won the $1,500 first-place prize for her idea to use drones equipped with thermal sensors and cameras to collect the data needed to create an enhanced visualization capability that would enable firefighters and fire managers to visualize real-time wildfire simulations in a 3D/immersive environment. In addition to providing more effective and safer training and education for firefighters and managers, this enhanced visualization capability would provide real-time information for fire evacuation.

The second-place winner, INL researcher Richard Skifton, won $1,000 for his idea: a sublime temperature sensor (STS) that measures temperature profiles by precisely locating specific temperatures of interest.

INL researcher Bo Zhang was the third-place finisher, receiving $750 for his idea for a state-of-the-art electromagnetic shield that would allow for safer charging of electric vehicles. Skifton also won the People’s Choice award, a $500 prize.

For more information about the program, please visit the CAES website.



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