College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Software Engineering Students Innovate at Iowa State

Three Software Engineering students were a part of this year’s annual IGNITE Innovation Showcase (IIS). Held at the new Iowa State University (ISU) Student Innovation Center April 18-22, 2022, this event showcases collaborations, inventions, and opportunities at ISU.

CalfTend Team Wins Feed the World Challenge

Software Engineering student, Brandon Burt, awarded first place in the Feed the World Challenge and second place in the Student Innovation Fund Challenge for his project, CalfTend.
Brandon Burt won first place in the Feed the World Challenge and second place in the Student Innovation Fund Challenge for his project, CalfTend.

Brandon Burt (Software Engineering) and team members, Marissa Eekhoff (Animal Science), Tanner Edwards (Agricultural Systems Technology), and Averie Sieverding (Animal Science) were $15,000 winners of the Feed the World Challenge for their project, CalfTend. Their project’s aim is to reduce annual calf mortality numbers caused by dystocia, unassisted births and other environmental/disease-related issues by utilizing a cutting-edge piece of nanotechnology. This technology is inserted into the pregnant cow/heifer to monitor the pregnancy through Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The CalfTend team, led by Burt, knows calving season can be challenging for the farmer/rancher. There is no way for farmers and/or ranchers to effectively monitor their herd and/or know when they will calf. Also, having a veterinarian conduct ultrasounds on cattle is extremely expensive. By developing this innovative technology, the team created a way scans can be done with minimal effort and cost, potentially saving the farmer/rancher thousands of dollars.

According to the CalfTend team, “This product will revolutionize the cattle industry, and not only bring profitability, and reduced mortality, but also add more beef into the food market, which is key as our global population grows and more food is needed to sustain it. Our product isn’t limited to just cattle either, it opens a horizon to be introduced to swine, equine, sheep, goats and more.”

Two SE Led Teams Place in Student Innovation Fund Challenge

Two Software Engineering (SE) students, Brandon Burt and Elvis Kimara, also won second and third place, respectively, in ISU’s main innovation competition, the 2022 Student Innovation Fund Challenge. Students are tasked with forming diverse, multi-disciplinary teams and then apply with an idea for something that solves a great problem in an innovative way. Only five teams make it to the finals.

Team finalists were judged by ISU deans in what Kimara described as a very tough and competitive process. “Honestly, I was asked some of the hardest questions I’ve ever faced that day for what felt like thirty minutes straight,” he said. In the end, two SE students came away with wins.

Software Engineering student, Elvis Kimara, receives his $2,000 third place award for his project, Gutter.
Elvis Kimara receives his $2,000 third place award for his project, Gutter.

In addition to the Feed the World Challenge win, Burt and his team members were awarded $5,000 (2nd place) for their project business, CalfTend, in the Student Innovation Fund Challenge. Elvis and his team members, Sam Husted (Computer Science), Johann Guepjop (Computer Science), Arvid Gustafson (Software Engineering), and Thomas McAndrew (Computer Science), were awarded $2,000 (3rd place) for their project business, Gutter.

Kimara’s team project, Gutter, took aim at waste. They created an IOS app for college campus students to use for selling and/or recycling of their property (similar to Marketplace or Craigslist) instead of dumping it on move in/move out dates. After creating the app, Kimara and his team posted it on the Apple Store. “Director of Innovation Programs at Iowa State University Student Innovation Center, Karen Piconi Kerns, and BET Networks President of Media Sales, Louis Carr, worked with me,” explained Kimara, “They contributed a big part towards my win.”

In 2021, Kimara was also a part of a unique collaborative internship experience created by the Student Innovation Center and Principal Financial Group named Principal Financial Design Sprint. Both Student Innovation Fund Challenge project leaders, Burt and Kimara, were also recognized as members of the 2022 Class of Innovation Fellows. They were awarded a Cardinal pin for at least 340 hours of work.

SE Entrepreneur Presents on Starting a Business as a Student

Software Engineering student, Lewis Callaway, presents about entrepreneurship at this year's Ignite Innovation Showcase event.
Lewis Callaway presents about entrepreneurship at this year’s Ignite Innovation Showcase event.

SE student and entrepreneur, Lewis Callaway, was invited to present about his business, Callaway Technologies LLC. His presentation, coordinated by Professor Suresh Kothari, was part of the Innovation in Engineering program held from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19th, at the Student Innovation Center Step-a-torium.

Callaway came to ISU as a Software Engineering undergraduate in fall of 2019 and started his business soon after with some assistance from the Small Business Development Center at ISU Research Park. He explored starting a company in high school, but his parents suggested waiting until he got settled into college and had a better idea of how much time he had. Once Callaway became accustomed to college life, he decided to go ahead with the idea because of requests he’d received to do freelance software development and IT services.

Six months after arriving at ISU, the pandemic arrived in early spring of 2020, and he learned quickly how important it is to be agile. Callaway decided to focus primarily on two service offerings: live event streaming and Amazon Alexa skill development. While he’s done various projects, he most recently focused on growing the RV Park WiFi installation/service aspect of his business. Callaway feels this is a niche market he should focus on.

“Through all these experiences, I’ve learned how important it is to listen to the client and be open to new ways to grow,” Callaway shared.

Video Presentation, Lewis Callaway

Student Innovation Center Opportunities