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BIOE undergrads win OWL Open cash prize

Owl Open WinnersBioengineering undergraduate students: Natalie Bolton, Patricia DaSilva, Catherine Schult, Akhil Surapaneni, Peter Tang, Christopher VanGundy, and Andy Zhang placed third in the 2016 OWL Open, a Rice University-wide business plan competition held February 20.

The team took home a check for $1,000 for their development of a bioreactor that converts cellulose in plants into glucose with little to no maintenance or upkeep. The goal of the project, which is called GrassRoots, is to open up a new source of caloric intake for those in extremely impoverished and malnourished communities.

 First prize was awarded to the Skylark Wireless team, who earned $2,500 and automatic entry into this year’s Rice Business Plan Competition. Team members are electrical engineering graduate students Ryan Guerra and Clayton Shepard. They are developing high-performance wireless technology that uses television white-space bandwidth to deliver broadband Internet service to underserved markets. Steward Technology, won the undergraduate division. Team members are computer science and mathematics student Philip Taffet and computer science student Jake Nyquist. They are developing communications software and hardware for the automotive industry. 

OWL Open was hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, and Rice Launch. Event sponsors were OwlSpark and Rachel ’83 and Bruce ’80 Deskin.