UWM Student Startup Challenge Winner Featured in Olympic Coverage

When he was a student, alumnus Brent Aussprung (’14 BS Mechanical Engineering) pursued his idea of creating a speedskating skate that could improve an athlete’s performance.

Then, the former U.S. national speedskating team member entered his invention – a hybrid clap skate –in the UWM Student Startup Challenge, was one of four winners, received $10,000 in support and one year of mentoring to propel his invention forward.

With the Olympics underway, WTMJ caught up with Aussprung, now working as a patent agent with Michael Best in Milwaukee, and learned more about the status of his invention and its potential to transform the sport of speedskating by the 2022 Olympics. Watch the story.

“During my years competing, I never questioned the equipment that was available until I became a mechanical engineer,” Aussprung said. “Only then did I realize that there was an innovation gap in the sport.”

The UWM Student Startup Challenge supports student innovation and the university’s entrepreneurial culture. Through his participation, Aussprung, for example, developed and improved upon early prototypes of his skate through the Product Realization course, taught by Ilya Avdeev, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering and founder of the Student Startup Challenge, and Nathaniel Stern, Associate Professor in the Peck School of the Arts and Co-Director of the Student Startup Challenge.

“Student Startup Challenge winners working on products requiring hardware development have an opportunity to work with the Product Realization course instructors and student teams to advance prototype development,” says Avdeev.

The challenge is open to all UWM students and alumni who have graduated in the last two years.