WWU Team Wins $15,000 Top Prize at Alaska Airlines Innovation Challenge

Nova Solar Glazing, Western Washington University’s team of business, chemistry, industrial design and electrical engineering students, was recently awarded the $15,000 Wells Fargo grand prize at the 2017 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) hosted by the University of Washington’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.

“It was inspiring to see professionals – like investors and developers – react with so much enthusiasm about our project,” team leader Emily Bartlett (Broadlands, Virginia; Industrial Design) said.  “At the EIC, the team was able to talk about the final product and overall vision of our solar window, which was really validating to our efforts after spending months developing individual components.”

In concert with concurrent research on luminescent solar concentrators from Western’s Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC), the team developed an accessible, affordable, and practical insert for windows that effortlessly converts them into energy-producing solar windows.

Nova Solar Glazing, composed of nine students, was one of 21 student teams looking to solve environmental and cleantech problems though innovation at the University of Washington competition. They are the first team to win this competition that was not from the University of Washington.

The team first had to submit a 5-7 page business summary of their product to judges who reviewed them to select the top 22 teams. Then, the team had to attend the trade show-style competition, where they set up a table and posters to present their prototype to more than 170 judges.

 Three of the students were on the team last year when they developed this practical solar window. This year with six new members, their focus has been on actually developing the technology for the window, building their own prototype, doing financial analysis and creating a product that is easy to manufacture.

The team was just accepted into the Business Plan Challenge at UW, and plans to showcase the design at future competitions now that it is developed. They plan to start large scale testing of their product by installing their windows locally.

“Our overall goal is to make sustainability invisible. We want every building to have this sustainable energy producing capability so that nobody even has to think about. It should just be inherent,” Bartlett said.

Student team members include:

Amy Morren, Chemistry (Cleveland, Ohio)

Benjamin Anderson, MBA (Story City, Iowa)

Cole Rogers, Electrical Engineering (Ferndale)

Edward Hanko, Industrial Design (Lynden)

Emily Bartlett, Industrial Design (Broadlands, Virginia)

Giovanni Segar, Marketing (Ferndale)

Noah Prime, Chemistry (Lake George, New York)

Star Summer, Chemistry (Ellensburg)

Quae Atwood, Electrical Engineering (Bellingham)


Faculty advisors:

Bill Miller, Finance and Marketing

David Patrick, Chemistry

Ed Love, Finance and Marketing

For more information about the Nova Solar Glazing Team and its product, contact David Patrick at david.patrick@wwu.edu or (360) 650-3128.