Makers shine at Homecoming

The Innovation ShowCASE gives students a chance to show alumni what they are doing with their Case education—and get some free advice.

As she prepared for last fall’s Innovation ShowCASE, Sarah Ryan did not know quite what to expect. She was the design lead for the Case Rocket Team and she and her classmates had worked feverishly to prepare their rockets for Homecoming display.

But would their work be good enough for an audience of scientists and engineers? Would the alumni even notice?

Did they ever.

The team’s exhibition of competition rockets, one of which held a rover in its payload bay, drew a steady crowd of observers in their corner of Sears think[box], and the students came away with more than youthful pride.

“We got a lot of good ideas and suggestions from alumni,” said Ryan, a senior majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering. “They shared their experience, their software ideas.  A lot of them support this program, so it was great to show them what we do.”

She’ll be back again this year, this time as president of the Case Rocket Team, which is joining about 10 other student teams to show alumni what they can do at the nation’s largest college maker center.

The Innovation ShowCASE, the flagship Homecoming event of the Case Alumni Association, begins at 5 p.m. Friday, October 12, at Sears think[box].  Student groups, innovators and entrepreneurs have been invited to display and demonstrate their work and compete for $500 prizes that will be awarded in two categories:

  • Best student group
  • Best student startup or potential startup

Alumni and guests will vote for the winners, who will be announced that evening.

“This is a very special event for us,” said Steve Zinram, executive director of the Case Alumni Association. “Not only do alumni get to tour think[box] and see this fabulous resource, they get to meet our students and see what they are making. And the students love that the alumni are interested. This encourages professional development, and strikes at the heart of what we want to do as an alumni association.”

The Innovation ShowCASE features food and beverage stations, a performance by the Case Men’s Glee Club, and the annual alumni awards presentation.

This year, former dean and Emeritus Professor Tom Kicher will be receiving the Silver Bowl in recognition of his lifetime of service to the Case School of Engineering.

But the main attraction is the showcase, which gives everyone a chance to tour think[box]—a seven-story, state-of-the-art innovation center-- and see what students are doing with the tools and resources that alumni helped provide.

“It’s fantastic,” said Ed Gesdorf ’68, who toured the ShowCASE two years ago. “I didn’t always understand what the kids were talking about, but I loved their enthusiasm.”

Some of the engineering clubs are relatively new, and they are anxious to show alumni what they can do. CWRUbotix, for example, is only seven years old. Yet the robotics team counts about 75 members and has achieved success at prestigious national competitions.

Members will be displaying some of their prize-winning robots, including their champion Combat Robot and NASA mining robot.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” said club president Rhys Hamlet, a senior mechanical engineering major.

“I think my favorite part of it is seeing the history of Case, the alumni who are still so passionate about the school and supporting the clubs,” he said. “We know what we do would not be possible without them.”

 Registration for the ShowCASE and all Homecoming events is now open at