Vegas here we come again

CWRU pioneered the road trip to CES. Other colleges are following. Campus startup catalyst Bob Sopko explains why. 

A dozen teams representing Case Western Reserve University will descend on Las Vegas, Nevada, January 8-11 for the world’s largest consumer electronics show—CES 2019.  As they exhibit their ideas and inventions on the convention floor, Case students and recent alumni may notice a larger collegiate presence at the massive trade show. 

Since CWRU pioneered student participation in 2014, other universities have joined the pilgrimage. This year, CES organizers expect to welcome the largest collegiate muster yet, including teams from Michigan State University, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Waterloo, Canada, and leading universities from Asia. 

CWRU will again field the largest university contingent, with displays that exhibit the breath of innovation occurring both on and off campus. 

Representatives of Blockland Cleveland have been invited to join “Case Row” in the University Showcase section of the Eureka Park display hall, underscoring Cleveland’s emerging interest in blockchain technology. The Case crew also includes Professor Mark Griswold, who will demonstrate HoloLens devices, makers from Sears think[box], and a production team from Thinkbox Radio, a new podcast highlighting innovation at the Case School of Engineering. 

Student teams, dominated by science and engineering majors, remain the main attraction.  This year they include doctoral students Zhe Ren and Donghui Li, whose idea for a bandage that comes unstuck under ultraviolet light was named Best Student Startup at Homecoming’s Innovation ShowCASE. They will be joined by the founders of CrystalESensors, who are developing self-powering sensors for smart buildings. 

CES2019Leading the Spartan innovation team for the sixth time is Bob Sopko, the energetic director of the university startup consultancy CWRU LaunchNet. Sopko sat down with Case Alumnus to explain why CWRU invests time and energy into CES and why he thinks alumni should take a look.  

  1. Why do we take our students to a giant trade show in Las Vegas every year?
    CES in the largest gathering of innovators and entrepreneurs in the worId. We’re providing our students a world platform to share their innovations--to get customer feedback, look for strategic partners, and find funding. 
  1. How has the CES experience changed for Case?
    We started with two booths six years ago. Now we have a dozen. And we’re not alone anymore. Michigan State is coming. So are big universities from South Korea and Canada. The university presence is growing. We’re still the leader though—the largest university presence at the show. 
  1. Why should alumni go to CES, and visit Case Row, if they can?
    They can see our innovations. They can try out HoloLens (a virtual reality device). They can meet our incredible students. They can give them encouragement, advice and feedback. The students love that. The smart ones do. If there’s any other support they can provide—like contacts, partners, funding, it is greatly appreciated. 

The Case Alumni Association will host a reception on the convention floor Tuesday, January 9, for Case alumni and friends of the university.