Koch Innovation Challenge

The Koch Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Koch Industries, is an annual competition that will support the WSU College of Engineering in fostering a culture of creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and teamwork among students. Cross-disciplinary teams of new freshmen and transfer students studying engineering, art and design, business, and other disciplines will compete for funding and scholarships to invent products and technologies via a freshman introductory course. The grand champions of the competition will compete nationally at a collegiate entrepreneurs’ conference. The goal is to immediately begin preparing students the moment they join WSU to become real world-ready graduates with an entrepreneurial mindset. 

About the Competition
2016-2017 Event Details
2017-2017 Winners
In the News


About the Competition

The annual Koch Innovation Challenge will emphasize teamwork and entrepreneurship. In addition to a technically feasible and potentially profitable prototype, competing cross-disciplinary teams will submit a basic business plan or opportunity statement to determine market size, profitability, and potential for commercialization.

Winning entries will have:

  • Demonstrated utility and technical feasibility
  • Met technical, economic, legal, and regulatory requirements
  • Featured a novel and practical design
  • Demonstrated potential for commercialization including a market assessment, and proposed regulatory and intellectual property strategies

The College of Engineering will organize the Koch Innovation Challenge from its Engineering 101 Introduction to Engineering course and Introduction to Technology & Innovation Freshman Seminar general education course that includes access to a project innovation laboratory. Lectures, lab assignments, and team building activities supporting the ideals of the competition will be provided to all cross-disciplinary student team members. Guest speakers from WSU Ventures and Ablah Library have coached the students on patent searches, business models, and intellectual property protection.

From this competition, five Angel Competition Team winners will be selected to advance to the Spring semester. Each of the five winners will be provided up to $1,200 in investment capital to pursue their big idea ventures during their second semester. Additionally, students on the five winning teams will be awarded a $1,000 Koch Innovation Challenge scholarship for their second semester. Further, each winning team will be paired with a faculty innovation mentor as they pursue their big idea ventures.

At the end of the second semester, a final competition will take place during the annual Engineering Open House in order to identify the Grand Champion Team. The members of the Grand Champion Team will be awarded a travel grant at the Open House Awards Banquet to attend the national Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) Conference during their third semester. At the National CEO Conference, they will compete in the National Elevator Pitch Competition.


2016-2017 Event Details

Angel Competition:

  • Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016
  • Rhatigan Student Center Ballroom
  • 9am – Noon: Poster Session with Prototypes - Ballroom
  • 9am – Noon: Big Idea Pitch to Judges - RSC McKay 319
  • 12:30pm: Awards Presentation - Ballroom

Grand Champion Competition:

  • Friday, May 5, 2017
  • Experiential Engineering Building
  • 9am - 11am Big Idea Pitch to Judges
  • Grand Champion team announced on May 6 at EOH Banquet


2016-2017 Winners

Angel Competition Winners:

  • “Picture This!” - a magnetic Polaroid-like photography prop. Team members: Caroline Childs, Connor Egan, Liam Huckaby, and Julie Sok.
  • “Out Cold” - a customizable pillow with air chambers that helps reduce sleep discomfort. Team members: Derek Slaymaker, Braden Bohl, Cesar Gamboa, Jacob Kimble, and Austin Nordyke.
  • “Stim Support” - A small box that children with ADHD or autism can play with to help them focus. Team members: Hayden Schrag, Natalie Ashbrook, Jacob Griffin, and Talitha Wilson.
  • “d-Safe” - An electronic box with a breathalyzer that will return car keys only if someone is below the legal limit for blood-alcohol levels. Team members: Natalie Dutton, Azby Alshemeri, Zachary Bacon, Joseph Grondin, and Abigail Richardson.
  • “Snail-shell Camper” - An ultra-lightweight camping shell that hooks onto a bicycle. Team members: James Sizemore, Kristian Buan, Michael Lee, and Raistlin Welker.

Grand Champion Winners:

  • “Out Cold” - a customizable pillow with air chambers that helps reduce sleep discomfort. Team members: Braden Bohl, Jacob Kimble, and Austin Nordyke.

In the News

5/15/2017. Student team wins Koch Innovation Challenge with 'Out Cold' pillow design. Retrieved from WSU News.

5/12/2017. “Out Cold” pillow wins Koch Innovation Challenge at WSU. Retrieved from Wichita Business Journal.

12/3/2016. Innovative ideas get a boost at WSU competition. Retrieved from Wichita Eagle.

12/7/2016. Five student teams win inaugural Koch Innovation Challenge. Retrieved from WSU News

12/16/2014. $11.25 million Koch pledge advances Wichita State University. Retrieved from WSU News.



Samantha Corcoran, Engineering Educator and competition organizer, samantha.corcoran@wichita.edu.