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Innovators at work: CALS seniors win two big campus contests

Students in Biological Systems Engineering know how to innovate, especially when it comes to hooks and bullets.  Inventive ideas for outdoor products earned BSE seniors the top prize in two campus innovation contests last week. Justin Vannieuwenhoven received top prize and $10,000 in the Schoofs Prize for Creativity for his self-adjusting boat-mounted holder for fishing rods. And BSE senior Luke Stedman teamed up with mechanical engineering student Steve Burbachto win the $2,500 Tong Prototype Prize for their TreeREX, a safe, portable tree stand for hunters.

By self-adjusting as boats bob in choppy water, Vannieuwenhoven’s rod holder keeps the bait steady relative to the bottom of a body of water, and looks more natural to fish. Vannieuwenhoven was inspired to create this innovation by his grandpa, who is an avid fisherman.

treestand_Stedman and Burbachto’s  TreeREX tree stand has a pair of steel “jaws” that clamp around a tree trunk, and that use the hunter’s weight to secure the clamp. The heavier the hunter, the firmer the grip on the tree. And, at 30 pounds, it can easily be carried on the hunter’s back.

Read more about these and other innovative winners in this UW-Madison College of Engineering press release.