‘Inferno Pitch’ competition announces winners

By Kathleen Hilliard.

The Inferno Pitch, starting the fall of 2018, recently ended its first inaugural launch Nov. 15.

Senior Alba Madoff Johnson and junior Matthew Broekman were the first-place winners of the competition with their device that creates a way to prevent drunk driving through the steering wheel. The device is called IDP Tech, or Impaired Driving Prevention Technology. Madoff Johnson and Broekman were one of five runner ups that were narrowed down from a total of forty submissions.

“One inspiration was my brothers, I wanted them to be safe,” said Broekman. The device won’t allow, through a biosensor, a person to drive while intoxicated. This is also said to work for when someone starts drinking after driving by the sweat glands in a person’s hands.

The Inferno Pitch initially only allowed a control group of the students in the business college, but Dean of the College of Business and Technology Margaret Kilcoyne expresses that they hope to expand to the rest of the university.

“I see it as a win-win for everybody…because there are some really amazing ideas that out students have,” said Kilcoyne. “The good thing is that it brings together people who may have never worked together otherwise,” said Madoff Johnson when asked about if she saw the Inferno Pitch as a good project for the school to continue with.

The only negatives, mentioned by Broekman and Madoff Johnson, were the rushed process along with the fact that more time would have been nice to develop the idea and finish for the final pitch. The Inferno Pitch is free for students, which allows most of the students at Northwestern to participate.

“We have great folks, for example, over in the science area, in the CAPA area, our nursing area, et cetera. If we wanted to, we could even open it up to NSU alumni,” said Kilcoyne when asked about how the benefits of expansion.

The Inferno Pitch process involves three stages. The first will be the submission of the idea, followed by a mandatory business planning session at NSU, and lastly the final pitch to a panel if the submission gets that far. It provides a venue for the students of NSU to introduce their ideas before a panel of professional entrepreneurs.

After winning, the students would be available to a scholarship along with other prizes to help them develop and process their invention professionally.

Kilcoyne expressed one of the key phrases used as inspiration throughout the process from a speech by Dr. Niesha McCoy: ‘Preparation plus opportunities equals success.’ The idea was that students who had an idea could come forward and have accessibility to professional help to assist them in their process to promote their ideas.

“Don’t be afraid, believe in your product,” said Broekman when asked about what advice for future submissions. Madoff Johnson followed with her own advice, “Any idea you have, go for it.”

Another amendment would prohibit felons from serving in public office until five years after completing their sentence. The law currently allows felons to serve after completing their sentence.

If voted for, one amendment would remove the right of state police to use money from the Transportation Trust Fund for traffic control purposes.

One amendment could extend eligibility for certain special property tax treatments to property held in trust.

Voters can also decide whether a political subdivision can donate the use of public equipment and personnel to another.

Another amendment may require a four year phase-in of tax liability for homes subject to the homestead exemption when a reappraisal increases assessments by more than 50 percent.

Natchitoches residents will also vote on whether or not to allow fantasy sports to be played inside the parish.

Photo by Cassandra Phillips.

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