On June 22, ME students proved their innovativeness as they transformed their vision of a new gadget into a reality.
Undergraduate senior Nick Turnbull, along with the help of graduate student Paul Schrems, developed the TurtleCell, which beat out other prestigious schools such as Harvard, MIT, and Johns Hopkins to win first place and $10,000 in the 7th annual American Society of Mechanical Engineers Innovation Showcase held in Indianapolis, IN.
“Winning first place was honestly a complete shock,” Turnbull said. “One of the best parts about this competition was watching the other nine finalists present, and both Paul and I were blown away at the level of development for most of the other teams.”
After hearing the announcement that Harvard had won third place, and BYU had won second, Turnbull was convinced that John Hopkins would be called out as the grand prize winner – they were wrong. Instead, the University of Michigan was announced, reassuring the team members of their work’s potential.
“We had won our first national competition,” Turnbull said.
The IShow allowed collegiate teams to present their new ideas, ranging from biomedical devices to a basketball training contraption, in front of a panel of entrepreneurial experts. The TurtleCell is described as a new type of iPhone 5 case that encases retractable headphones, preventing their tangling.
The idea for the TurtleCell arose one day after Schrems spent an entire walk to the Duderstadt on North Campus trying to untangle his unruly headphones. Turnbull and Schrems disassembled an iPhone case that had a built-in external battery and realized there was certainly room for the retractable headphones device they had in mind.
Turnbull and Schrems began developing the prototype two years ago. Since then, they have won the Consumer Products category of the 1,000 Pitches competition in November 2011 as well as the Jump Start Grant from the CFE.
Currently, Turnbull estimates that TurtleCell shipping will not begin until December 2013 and the KickStarter campaign has raised $18,360 so far. The original sketches and prototypes can be found on the KickStarter’s webpage, and sales are promising.