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Learning experiences outside Tech classrooms reinforce what students learn in the classroom.

Granqvist’s idea is a winner, (nutrition) bar none

Indiana Tech’s Innovation Challenge competition was developed in 2021 to give all students an opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas and turn them into viable business opportunities or patents. For senior business major Fabian Granqvist, it’s doing just that.

In November 2022, Fabian won the university’s second Innovation Challenge after presenting his business plan for an energy bar he developed in 2020 as a healthy and affordable alternative to processed protein and energy bars.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of activity for Fabian, who is also a member of the men’s hockey team.

  • Indiana Tech president Karl W. Einolf connected Fabian with Parkhurst Dining, the university’s culinary provider based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fabian was able to meet Parkhurst’s director of sourcing and sustainability, which helped him improve the consistency and reliability of his bars. From there, Parkhurst representatives inspected where the bars are made and approved Fabian’s baking process. Parkhurst will begin selling Fabian’s bars in the near future.
  • Fabian sold 100 bars to the men’s hockey team for use during the ACHA Division I men’s tournament, which was held March 16 through 21 in Boston.
  • Fabian has networked with several entrepreneurs since winning the Innovation Challenge, including Giovanni Martinez of the Fortitude Fund, a Fort Wayne-based not-for-profit that supports entrepreneurship in the region. Through the relationship, he was approved to vend at the Fort Wayne Farmer’s Market for the 2023 summer season.

Fabian had been making breakfast bars for a few years, but it wasn’t until the urging of a friend over the summer of 2022 that he considered selling them. Now the Boras, Sweden, native visualizes his bars being “healthy, sustainable and delicious substitutes” to other bars found in grocery stores and gas stations.

He is currently testing his product in the sports nutrition scene.

“I have always been very passionate about health, but never would I have imagined myself winning the Innovation Challenge with an idea so perfectly aligned with my passion,” Fabian said. “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity presented to me by Tech to realize my dream.”

Dr. Staci Lugar Brettin’s Venture Lab class was instrumental in Fabian’s Innovation Challenge victory as many collaborated with him to help him prepare for the event.

“The whole class was willing to listen to my pitch and give me constructive criticism which was incredibly helpful. Wil Campbell was extra helpful; he runs a successful business and gave me advice throughout this whole process that I applied to the marketing and branding of my idea,” Fabian said.

Learn more about Indiana Tech’s Innovation Challenge.

Innovation Challenge second place—Catherine Stafford

The electrical engineering major who will graduate in May won second place with her innovative BraiKey, a Braille keyboard with a refreshable Braille display for those learning to use braille in congruence with a word processor, such as Word or Google Docs.

“I was first introduced to this idea by two of my electrical engineering professors who suggested it as a potential senior project. I was originally drawn to the idea because I knew it would be a challenge for me and would allow me to not only demonstrate the skills that I have gained while at Tech, but also put me in a position to develop in areas that I was lacking in,” Catherine said.

As she dived deeper into the project, Catherine realized her product had the potential to truly help people and allow them greater access to technologies that she took for granted.

“It is easy for me to quickly type content into a document and email it to its intended receiver without batting an eye. That is not true for everyone—partly due to the technology and partly due to the education gaps related to Braille as a language,” Catherine said. “It is my hope, and intent, that BraiKey can be developed in such a way that facilitates young users to embrace Braille more fully as a tool for their success in the wide world.

“I never expected that I would be able to find a project that would inspire me to be brave enough to take it to a competition, let alone an innovation competition,” she added. “This whole experience has been outside much of my wheelhouse and it wouldn’t have been possible without help and encouragement from Dr. Zakariya Al Hamouz (associate professor of electrical engineering) and Dr. Staci Lugar Brettin (professor of marketing and management).

Industry tours show students what is possible

On Thursday, May 4, 2023, a group of Indiana Tech engineering students got a behind-the-scenes look at the motorsports industry with a tour that included kissing the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Real-world learning opportunities like this help our students become career-ready graduates.