MADISON, Wisconsin – Aakash Varsha Swaminathan and Ashwin Maheshwari are in different departments at the University of Wisconsin and have never had classes together, but have just finished being part of the same project to develop inventions to help the industry. dairy.
“I kind of felt like I needed a change to experience the industrial side of things,” said Swaminathan, who is a doctoral student in the food science department at UW-Madison.
Swaminathan works extensively with dairy in his doctoral program, but decided to participate in the Dairy innovation hubThe Student Challenge offered a unique opportunity.
“It’s very industry driven and if you find a solution to this problem it can be easily implemented,” Swaminathan said. “So that was sort of very appealing to me, and it’s very exciting to work on such projects for sure. “
Students from the Dairy Innovation Hub’s three UW system campuses – Madison, Platteville and River Falls – took part in the challenge. They didn’t all have dairy training either.
“I didn’t know I was the only MBA student there, but the next thing I know is I was learning everything about the dairy industry,” said Ashwin Maheshwari, an MBA candidate. at UW-Madison.
Project ideas focused on three topics: improving the shelf life of dairy products, using technology or robotics to improve operations, and encouraging dairy consumption among students in Wisconsin.
“There are few better resources for innovative ideas in Wisconsin than students at UW System campuses,” said Heidi Zoerb, associate dean for external relations at UW-Madion College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Students worked as a team to come up with ideas and worked with academic and industry professionals to refine them. They then presented them virtually to a jury made up of judges from the university and Hyper-innovation, a Madison-area innovation agency that partnered with the competition.
The challenge was part of the Dairy Innovation Hub’s goal to help the dairy industry and its farmers. The Hub receives $ 7.8 million per year from the state to work on issues raised by Dairy Task Force 2.0.
“Prices have been low in the dairy industry, and Wisconsin dairy farmers are really struggling because of it,” Zoerb said.
For the challenge, students came up with seven locations in total, including items like a cooler bag to replace milk cartons, a septum ring to monitor cow health, and bio-actives in the yogurt to extend life. conservation.
“Seeing students working on real dairy innovations is the most rewarding part of this whole project,” Zoerb said.
Maheshwari worked on the Health Monitoring Septum Ring Project, and also worked on a project that turned barcodes on dairy products into a game that children can read on phones and others. devices. He said the whole process was very informative.
“It was almost like a class in a way, like an extra class,” Mahewshari said.
Swaminathan’s food science background led her to use bioactives to extend the shelf life of yogurt. All groups received resources from the university to commercialize the ideas.
“If you’re more interested in continuing with this project, you sort of work from there, you execute the plan that you already have,” Swaminathan said.