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Consumer soldering iron a Capstone Design winner at Esch awards

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Solder Otter, a safe, easy-to-use soldering iron with built-in fume extraction, was one of six major winners at the second annual Norman Solder OtterEsch Capstone Design Awards competition for engineering students held today at the University of Waterloo.

The company’s five founders are mechanical engineering and systems design engineering students. Their impressive pitch won them $10,000 to help cover startup and other costs.

"We specifically designed the Solder Otter for the Maker Market,” said Vanessa Guido, a systems design engineering student and chief executive officer of Solder Otter. “We’ve had a lot of great feedback on our product that includes a  HEPA filter and validation on it as well.  We’ll use the money we won today to help patent our design.”  

The other $10,000 winners include:

  • Grasp: a bike lock that can be used with a single hand
  • Vitameter: a hand-held device that measures your vitamin levels within minutes
  • Suncayr: UV-responsive marker that indicates when to reapply sunscreen
  • Pegasus: low-cost survey drone for widespread industrial use
  • Boogaloo Bunks: modular privacy pods for shared sleeping spaces such as hostels

People’s Choice winner of $3,000:

  • Autowalk: a motorized kneebrace that helps straighten the leg 

Suncayr and Vitameter were also grand prize winners at last week’s pitch competition for Velocity, a University of Waterloo entrepreneurship program.

During the event, 15 teams had 90 seconds to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges who included engineering professors and faculty members of the Conrad Entrepreneurship, Business and Technology Centre. Judges weighed the overall pitch, and product innovation, market potential and viability. The emcee for the event was Matt Stevens, chief executive officer of Waterloo-based CrossChasm Technologies Inc., a company that develops next generation vehicles.

The presentations were all extremely solid and well done,” said Stevens, a Waterloo chemical engineering graduate. “I was especially impressed by the way each team focused on the end user of its project and how it would be of benefit to the individual.”  

Judges selected the finalists for the competition from 60 applicants who all participated in March’s annual Capstone Design symposia. The five-day event showcased over 150 projects senior engineering students spent months designing and building.

Funded by The Esch Foundation, the Norman Esch Capstone Design Awards support creative and entrepreneurial students in the pursuit of research and development and its commercialization for the benefit of Canada. Previous Capstone projects have given rise to groundbreaking ideas leading to the creation of companies such a s Athos, BufferBox, Thalmic Labs and Pebble.

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