Japanese Public TV Films Innovation Day Inventors at UW-Madison

by Sandra Knisely, UW-Communications

A film crew representing a Japanese public broadcast station will be on the College of Engineering campus on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 26-27, to interview participants from Innovation Day, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s annual invention competition.

The crew from New York-based TopSpin Creative Corporation is developing a program for the Gakusei Channel (Gak-ChaNe!) , which provides shows targeted to Japanese college students.

Aya Shimizu, a writer for TopSpin, says the program will give Japanese students a better understanding of what American college students are doing, thinking and achieving.

Innovation Day features the Schoofs Prize or Creativity and the Tong Prototype Prize. The contests award cash prizes to the most creative, marketable ideas and the best prototypes. Additionally, participants can win money for submitting the best design notebook or delivering the best presentation. This year, 10 students presented eight inventions at the Feb. 12 event.

“The fact that the Japanese film crew is coming into town to talk with some of our competitors is evidence that this competition has a broader reach than anyone had realized,” says competition director Alicia Jackson, who is also the director of the Student Leadership Center.

“It’s more proof that UW-Madison produces innovative graduates who are prepared to work in an increasingly global and technology-driven economy.”

The four-person crew will interview past participants from the competition, including electrical and computer engineering senior Justin Beck and psychology and neurobiology senior Daniel Gartenberg. The pair won the top prize and $10,000 at the 2009 Innovation Day for inventing an iPhone and iPod touch software application that will help people sleep more effectively and avoid morning grogginess.

Gak-ChaNe! is broadcast on one of the oldest Japanese networks, NHK, a non-profit, nationwide network dedicated to education.