Piglet protector inventors are finalists in national contest

Wisconsin State Farmer

NORTH CANTON, OH -  Two University of Iowa students that invented a device to lower the piglet mortality rate on hog farms are among the finalists in the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition.

University of Iowa students Abraham Espinoza (left) and Matthew Rooda will pitch their piglet saving device during the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame announced that the SwineTech team of Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza are finalists in the nationwide competition. The duo is advised by Thomas Hornbeck of the University of Iowa.

Their project which helps to save the lives of baby pigs has already been chosen as the Arrow Innovation Prize Winner. According to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 116 million newborn piglets were accidentally crushed to death by their mothers on hog farms in 2016, resulting in billions of dollars lost.

The teams' Safe by Sound SmartGuard system monitors the pitch, loudness and duration of squeals using proprietary software that determines whether a piglet is in distress or just squealing as piglets normally do.

When a piglet is in distress, the device sends a vibration to a wearable patch on the mother, prompting her to stand and free her piglet.

The mild vibrations ( 25% to 50% less than a dog shock collar) startles the show into shifting position or standing up.

SwineTech's invention along with the inventions of fellow college students and graduate students will be evaluated by first-round judges who score on originality of the idea, process, level of student initiative, and potential value and usefulness to society.

The Finalists will travel to Alexandria, VA., to present their inventions to a panel of final-round judges composed of the most influential inventors and invention experts in the nation — National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) experts.

“The USPTO is proud to host the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition — a program designed to allow undergraduate and graduate students to showcase their emerging ideas and inventions that will shape our future,” said Joseph Matal, who performs the duties of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO.

Finalists will showcase their inventions and interact with thousands of USPTO patent and trademark examiners, sponsors, media and the public at the Collegiate Inventors Competition Expo on Nov. 3.