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Ohio State engineering students capture top honors in GM Innovation Challenge

In early spring, GM reached out to select universities seeking creative students to develop and present cost-effective ways of incorporating new technologies into existing manufacturing facilities. Student teams from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Penn State competed in the GM Innovation Challenge finals at the company’s Detroit headquarters in late April.

Upon learning about the Innovation Challenge through Ohio State’s Society of Manufacturing Engineers chapter, mechanical engineering student Patrick Beal quickly recruited teammates Brian Bachir (mechanical engineering), Abd Al-Rahman Traboulsi (biomedical engineering) and Geoff Hardy (finance).

(l to r) Brian Bachir, Abd Al-Rahman Traboulsi, Geoff Hardy, Patrick Beal and Bradley Kabert. Photo taken at Coach Insignia, the restaurant at the top of the Renaissance Center.Fast forward to April 21, and another team of Buckeyes were undisputed champions.

The five universities all held campus competitions in early April to determine which team would represent them in the finals. Winning campus teams were rewarded with $500 for each team member. Beal said representing Ohio State was an “amazing experience.”

“This opportunity not only exposed us to GM and the automotive industry,” he added, “but also allowed us to grow as students, teammates and professionals.”

With some topic direction from GM event organizers, the teams were tasked with devising a conceptualized product, process, method or methodology for use in vehicle manufacturing. In the finals, students presented their ideas to a panel of judges. Following extensive research and conceptualization, the Ohio State team settled on an energy harvesting solution that would minimize GM’s carbon footprint and potentially impact the future sustainability of manufacturing.

As GM Innovation Challenge overall champions, each team member received another $1,000 and internship offers for summer 2016. For good measure, the Buckeyes also won a mini-challenge to create a conceptual company that would assist in transporting people to and from everyday activities.

“Through the GM Innovation Challenge, we hope to inspire students to use creative approaches to solving real-world challenges in the automotive industry,” said GM Architecture Innovation Engineer Bradley Kabert, an Ohio State alumnus. “We are looking for people who are capable and excited about embracing an evolving industry and connecting it with our customers, whether it is through vehicle connectivity or new manufacturing processes and techniques.”