April 16, 2012
This country depends on technology. America’s engineers and scientists, therefore, are some of the most skilled people on the planet. Our modern way of life would collapse without constant innovation from labs and universities across the country.
The National Homeland Defense Foundation (NHDF) works to funnel this innovation where it can benefit the most. The foundation holds the National Security Innovation Competition (NSIC) each year to connect students to the people who can make their ideas come to life.
On April 27, UCCS will host the NSIC. The top 10 finalist institutions will give their presentations in Berger Hall.
Mark Volcheff, the executive director of NHDF said, “We move it around from year to year. Last year it was at the Air Force Academy.”
The competition began with students submitting their entries in the form of “white papers” – five-page summaries of the students’ ideas for innovation. Then, according to Volcheff, “We have a number of technical experts that evaluate each of the white papers. We narrow that down to the top 10.”
The top 10 finalists are then brought before a panel of judges to give an oral presentation. The panel consists of seven judges from a variety of fields. The exact composition of judges changes from year to year.
This year, the judges are from the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, “Popular Science” magazine, Boeing Phantom Works, Paladin Capital Group (a venture capital company) and Dorsey & Whitney (a patent attorney).
The idea behind having all of these groups is to have the people available who can fund new ideas and eventual customers of the same innovations both represented.
Volcheff said, “It’s one-stop shopping for innovation.”
Many of the ideas seem like science fiction. Last year, students at the University of Ottawa created what they called a “blast mitigation device for wood structures.”
According to Volcheff, the clamps that the student created allowed a wooden wall to withstand a 25-pound TNT blast from 25 meters away. The exact same explosion completely blew apart an equivalent wall without the clamps.
Giving the presentations has been a boon for many past finalists. Quite often, students who are presenting their ideas are offered jobs on the spot by industry professionals – both judges and audience members.
Volcheff said, “Every year that we’ve had the competition, one of the top 10 universities has gone on to form a business.” He added, “It meets a lot of different people’s needs and desires.”