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Your final exam is ... a new product

When area companies have a need for a new product, they turn to UWM students in the “Product Realization” course. Taught by Ilya Avdeev (engineering) and Nathaniel Stern (art and design), these students are working for grades. But soon, any UWM student with an idea could suddenly be an entrepreneur.


  1. Team TAPCO:  A mobile app to find a parking space? What UWM student doesn't need this? Designers include not a single computer science major: Adam Bushman, Michael Schulze, and Kelsey Bauer (not shown), in mechanical engineering, and Keleigh Rappaport, in communication, and arts and design.
  2. So far, the team's prototype can monitor the Union and Lubar garages on campus. During peak traffic times, the app updates every five minutes.
  3. Team members are also working with UITS and recently gave a presentation to city and county officials, and Chancellor Michael Lovell. TAPCO (Traffic & Parking Control Co., Inc.), the company that commissioned the project, thinks it could be expanded to include other parts of Milwaukee.
  4. Team Rexnord:  What is it? An industrial vacuum cleaner, of course! This was designed to collect dust from a conveyor belt at Rexnord Corp. The company is trying to identify the fine particles that cover the products coming off the line. Team Rexnord is Andrew Faude, Nolan Erdman, Alan Stager and Colin Garnett.
  5. The team started by taking apart a Dyson vacuum cleaner to learn how its “cyclone technology" works. But their creation is no copycat. "What we're trying to pick up will be more like flour than sawdust," says Erdman, "so we don’t want to have to extract that from a filter. It needs to be collected in a separate container so that it can be analyzed."
  6. The improved prototype is "cyclone technology" on steroids. Alan Stager hooks up the final product to the conveyor belt at Rexnord.
  7. Leading the Way:  Avdeev (right) and Stern, co-instructors, aimed to attract undergraduates in both art and engineering. Other participating companies this semester included Aurora Health Care and the Medical College of Wisconsin. “We wanted one outcome to be that it helped create intellectual property,” says Avdeev. In addition, he hopes to inspire a campus-wide culture of student entrepreneurship with the Student Startup Challenge.
  8. Here's your opportunity. UWM students or recent grads with an idea for a product could win business-plan advice and some of the funding necessary to start their own company. Details at