March 16, 2011

Student team reaches 'I2P' contest semi-finals

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A team of Southern Illinois University Carbondale students advanced to the semi-finals and took home a $250 cash prize in the Missouri-Illinois Regional Idea 2 Product (I2P) Competition at St. Louis University’s John Cook School of Business earlier this month.

The competition drew 15 teams from a variety of universities including Washington University, Saint Louis University, the University of Illinois-Urbana and the Illinois Institute of Technology. During the event, contestants submitted proposals incorporating plans for taking a product or idea from the conceptual phase to commercialization. The plan highlights details about the product, its purpose, the potential market, intellectual property issues and everything leading up to creating and implementing a business plan.

Advancing to the semi-finals and claiming a cash award was the SIUC team including graduate students:

• Andrew Keenan, a second year MBA student from McHenry who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at SIUC in May 2009.

• Chris Mills, a Springfield native working on his MBA and a master’s in engineering. He earned his bachelor’s of science in civil engineering in 2009 at SIUC.

Product developers are Dale Wittmer, retired chair of the mechanical engineering department at SIUC, and Peter Filip, director of the Center for Advanced Friction Studies. Faculty advisers for the students are Maryon King, director of the SIUC Center for Innovation, and Jenni Janssen, assistant director of the center.

“The I2P competition provides our students with a multi-faceted experience. In preparing their projects, they collaborate with students from other departments and have to learn how to function effectively within interdisciplinary groups. When invited to present their projects at the semi-finals event, they have the opportunity to interact with top regional venture capitalists, scientists and educators so they have to understand how all of the pieces of the corporate puzzle fit together. This type of comprehensive experience helps prepare them for their future jobs by giving them a taste of what it is like in the ‘real world.’ It gives them a leg up in the job market,” said King.

This is the fourth year in a row that a team from the Center for Innovation at SIUC has competed at the St. Louis University I2P contest. The 2011 team’s product is a composite comprised of a dual metal material that binds industrial diamonds together to form a material useful in creating a wide variety of tools for numerous applications. There is a patent pending on the intermetallic bonded diamond technology.

For more information about the College of Business’ Center for Innovation, contact Janssen at 618/453-7788 (e-mail or visit the website at