InnovaIT, an annual IT Innovation competition, encourages undergraduate students in Wisconsin to dream up innovative Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile app solutions. The competition was founded in 2014 by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh assistant professor Ivor Addo to help promote technology entrepreneurship.
InnovaIT is more than just a competition. Undergraduate students with a passion for building software and/or hardware solutions have the unique experience to work with various mentors and team members through weekend hack-a-thon sessions to bring their ideas from concept to working prototype.
“It is very difficult to find very gifted and dedicated students who are capable of picking up something as challenging as building a mobile app from scratch while juggling their regular course work and internships. I’m very impressed with the quality of work that our students have produced,” Addo said.
Junior information systems major Jeremy Gackenheimer, of Hilbert, was a first-round finalist in the individual category. His app called University Experience is designed to help people keep track of their schedules while managing goals.
Seniors Jonathan Lipsky, of Deerfield, Illinois; and Tyler Kraning, of Appleton; and sophomore Dillon O’Donnell, of Madison; will represent UW Oshkosh at the final presentation in the group category with their mobile app Invight. O’Donnell, a computer science major, and Lipsky, an information system major, were both familiar with coding but were excited to expand their skills.
“Our app Invight utilizes google map API (application program interface) to create and display events in your area. Because it uses the map feature it becomes much easier to find events in your area combined with the helpful options that allow you to view and sort the events based on preferences,” O’Donnell said.
“Working with this team has been a fantastic experience. I learned that I can push myself to new heights when I am passionate about what I am doing,” Lipsky said.
Throughout the hack-a-thon sessions, Addo serves as a mentor. He finds that students come away with a great experience and innovative solutions that are not always possible to pick up in a traditional class or internship experience.
“There is really nothing more fulfilling for me than an opportunity to help students find the enjoyment of learning new things very quickly. It’s amazing to watch the students work collaboratively as they navigate the roadblocks and end with a working app,” he said.
The InnovaIT competition is sponsored by UW Oshkosh, Marquette University, Microsoft, WipFli, deHao Studios, Subway and Church Mutual Insurance. The top eight groups and individuals with the best apps will present their ideas and demonstrate the final product at a live event in front of judges today at Marquette University. The UWO team will be competing against one team from Waukesha County Technical College and three teams from Marquette University. Judges for the 2017 InnovaIT competition include:
- Jakob Iverson, UW Oshkosh information system professor and integrated web management department chair
- Terence Ow, Marquette University information technology professor
- Tracy Weber ’14 MBA and ’99 BFA, applications development manager of SaaS platforms at Alta Resources
- Brady Gerndt, GIS development associate at Harley Davidson
The 2018 InnovaIT competition is expected to be held on the UW Oshkosh campus with the hope of getting a strong representation from local students and other area universities and colleges throughout Wisconsin.
**UPDATE** The UWO team took first place in the group category at the 2016 InnovaIT competition.