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      1. You Make It Challenge

        You Make It Challenge

        Originally published by CONTROL Magazine on November 19, 2019

        Kids Rise to ‘You Make It’ Challenge

        One central thread to all of the presentations during the Perspectives media event at Automation Fair was this—developing new solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. As such, it makes perfect sense to tap and celebrate the fresh ideas percolating in our youngest, sharpest minds.

        Rockwell Automation’s You Make It Challenge invited young inventors to submit their big ideas to solve big problems back in June. Three finalists were gathered here to present their projects.

        “We can’t wait to see your imaginations at work,” said Christine Spella, director of global marketing and communications, who served as emcee for this fun presentation that provided encouragement to any in the audience who doubted the ingenuity of our next generation.

        During the second half of the You Make It Challenge, finalists were partnered with Rockwell Automation mentors, who helped the kids refine their ideas and prepare their presentations. It didn’t seem like these kids needed much help.

        Judges were Tessa Myers, Rockwell Automation president, North America; Pam Murphy, COO of Infor and a Rockwell Automation board member; and Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO Blake Moret.

        Our Three Finalists

        Sump Pump Overflow/Failure Prediction Program - Louisa Wood

        Louisa Wood, Bayside, Wisconsin, mentored by Tracy Swartzendruber, manager of Rockwell Automation’s global website portfolio

        After a series of heavy rains flooded her basement, Wood set to work developing a better system than the traditional sump pump. “Groundwater is unpredictable,” she lamented. So she developed a system that applies predictive-maintenance concepts to realize the dry-basement dream. Her system employs machine-learning algorithms partnered with local weather data to enable the program to adapt to each installation and predict when a pump will overflow or when parts are likely to fail.

        When asked by Judge Murphy what prompted her work in this field, Wood replied that she has long been passionate about STEM fields and computer science. The flooded basement merely prompted her to apply her passions to a hyperlocal solution.

        The greatest indicator of the value in this solution developed by a bright 16-year-old? Wood explained that people routinely ask her if they can buy it.

        Anti-Bully Backpack - Makai Samuels-Paige

        Makai Samuels-Paige, Atlanta, mentored by Dave Vasko, Rockwell Automation director of advanced technology and strategic development

        Like a lot of kids, Samuels-Paige gets bullied at school. Unlike a lot of kids, he developed a device to thwart his antagonists.

        The inventor equipped his Anti-Bully Backpack with a pair of WiFi cameras to provide mobile, livestream monitoring of bullying behavior, a mobile hotspot to enable constant communication and a battery pack to ensure that cellphones are always charged.

        The response? An administrator who oversaw the recent science fair in which Samuels-Paige entered his Anti-Bully Backpack “freaked out.” That was a positive reaction, just like the cheers that followed Samuels-Paige’s announcement that, just yesterday, a patent for the backpack was approved.

        “I think this is going to make a big change in the world,” said the young inventor, who seems poised to do that himself.

        Sanitation for the World - Michael Wilborne

        Michael Wilborne, Roanoke, Virginia, mentored by Mike Pantaleano, director of business development architecture and software for Rockwell Automation

        “I bet you didn’t think we’d be talking about toilets today,” said this 12-year-old inventor at the start of his presentation on an upgraded microflush toilet that can provide the benefits of modern sanitation with less reliance on the raw materials traditionally used to construct them. In short, Wilborne’s toilet minimizes the need for concrete and simplifies the waste-processing steps.

        His parents’ missionary work in third-world countries sparked Wilborne’s interest in this field. A scientific mind fuels his creativity. And a remarkable maturity informed his presentation.

        “I feel really encouraged to do more in the world,” he said, echoing his fellow finalists.

        And the Winner Is

        After the presentations, the kids gathered onstage while an actual drumroll played. They seemed nervous. They also seemed as proud as their parents in the crowd, who snapped pictures and fielded congratulations from those seated around them.

        Louisa Wood and her smart sump-pump system was voted the You Make It Challenge winner, earning her a package of prizes that includes a grant to a FIRST robotics program, a 3D printer, a computer and a STEM workstation.

        But, really, all three of these young innovators seem destined for great things. They embody the Expanding Human Possibility promise communicated by Rockwell Automation throughout this fun contest. And, as with any true innovator in the modern world, should these kids’ visions become reality, all of us will reap the benefits.


        Your idea could win you some amazing prizes. Not only will three finalists win a chance to present their ideas in Chicago and get a FIRST grant, one grand prize winner will also get a maker space kit. All three prizes combined for the grand prize winner total over $10,000.

        Three (3) finalists will receive:

        • A Rockwell Automation mentor to help you refine your idea and perfect your pitch
        • Airfare for two (2) to Automation Fair 2019 in Chicago, Illinois
        • Up to two (2) nights hotel stay in Chicago, Illinois
        • One (1) grant to any FIRST program for the next season

        One (1) grand prize winner will receive:

        • A Rockwell Automation mentor to help you refine your idea and perfect your pitch
        • Airfare for two (2) to Automation Fair 2019 in Chicago, Illinois
        • Up to two (2) nights hotel stay in Chicago, Illinois
        • One (1) grant to any FIRST program for the next season
          • Plus…
            • A maker space kit that includes:
              • One (1) 3-D printer plus software and hardware
              • One (1) computer with software
              • One (1) STEM class pack
              • One (1) STEM workstation

        *All prizes subject to change and based on availability.


        Okay, you have a great idea. Now what? If you need some help to get you started, here are some questions to ask yourself to get you to the next step!

        • What’s the purpose of your idea?
        • How does your idea expand human possibility?
        • What about your idea is new and innovative?
        • Why do you think this problem hasn’t been solved yet?
        • How does this idea help you? Your family? Your community??
        • How do you see your idea coming to life?
        • Why does the world need this?
        • What inspired your idea?

        These are the kinds of questions you will want to ask yourself to help you define your idea. So if you can dream it, we want to know about it! So, DREAM BIG! And if you’ve got more questions, we can help you along the way. If you have a question or concern that isn’t listed anywhere, we want to hear from you. Contact Us.


        • June 13 - July 26, 2019:?Submissions Accepted?
        • July 29 - August 9, 2019:?Round 1 Judging?
        • Week?of August 12, 2019: Top 10 Finalists Announced
        • Week of August 19, 2019:?Round 2 Judging
        • Week of August 26, 2019:?Top 3 Finalists Announced
        • September/October 2019: Virtual Project Mentorship?
        • November 19, 2019: In-person presentation at Automation Fair in Chicago, Winner Announced

        ** All dates subject to change **



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