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Buteo Innovation Award

Members of Buteo, a student innovation project that is developing a bird detection and deterrent technology for berry crop farmers, took first place at Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s 14th annual Innovation Quest competition on April 27. From left are team members Ryan Dunn, Jackson Reznicek, Sean Wallace, Hayden Hudgins and Kyle Wuerch.

Buteo, a student innovation project that is developing a bird detection and deterrent technology for berry crop farmers, took first place at Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s 14th annual Innovation Quest  competition.

The team of six Cal Poly students received the Innovation Award and $15,000 for technology that uses autonomous fixed-wing drones to help vineyard managers and berry farmers protect their crops from birds and gain quantifiable feedback on the health of their vines.

The interdisciplinary team is made up of business administration students Jackson Reznicek, Kendall Melton and Rocky Tschappat, computer engineering students Kyle Wuerch and Sean Wallace, mechanical engineering student Ryan Dunn, and computer science graduate student Hayden Hudgins.

Nearly 50 teams comprising approximately 150 students and recent alumni applied for the iQ competition, with 11 selected as finalists competing for cash prizes in front of a panel of judges with a broad range of entrepreneurial experience. Four teams were honored at the event held April 27 at the San Luis Obispo Country Club for their innovative projects.

“The Innovation Quest competition motivates our students to utilize their strong disciplinary foundation and apply that knowledge and experience to start an entrepreneurial journey,” said Thomas Katona, assistant professor of innovation and entrepreneurship in Cal Poly’s Biomedical Engineering Department. “Students need these opportunities to express their own creative desires, and this competition serves as a great way for them to get business experience and potentially win money to continue developing their companies.”

The second place Rich and Jackie Boberg Innovation Award and $10,000 went to Santronics, which provides an automated, adaptable and caregiver-oriented hand hygiene compliance monitoring system for hospital infection control teams.

The team includes mechanical engineering students Samuel Lee, Sonya Dick and Taira Hovden; computer engineering students Christian Johansen and Boris Tam; and business administration student Daniel DeFilippo.

Innovation Quest was started by Cal Poly alumni with a goal to develop an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset among Cal Poly students and to provide students with a springboard in developing sustainable businesses. Partnering with the Cal Poly CIE, the competition now serves as a primary catalyst for innovation across campus each year.

For more information about iQ and the CIE, visit https://cie.calpoly.edu/.

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