The second annual Catalyze Klamath Falls Challenge has three teams coming down to the wire to bring Innovation Close to Home with a prize pool of $17,000, almost double the pool from last year! These competitors will present their entrepreneurial pitches at the final competition on Tuesday, May 17th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Participants are Oregon Tech students or recent graduates who reside in the Klamath Falls area and have a new idea, product or service to bring to the Klamath Falls business community. Any major or field of study was encouraged to participate. Teams utilize previous knowledge, explore the unknown, and seek advice from professionals and teachers to develop their entrepreneurial business plans.

The three teams registered are as follows:

  • CLAP: capturing Klamath Falls’ natural wind resource and utilizing it to power city street lights through small wind turbines.
    • Cody Carmichael, Mechanical Engineering
    • Grant Gholston, Mechanical Engineering
    • Jessica Dela-Cruz, Mechanical Engineering
    • Reece Ishihara, Mechanical Engineering
  • GO Possibilities: production of graphene oxide with long-term goal of bringing the GO printer (for production of graphene) to market, which will use the graphene oxide as a material source.
    • Benedict Fawver, Electrical Engineering
    • Eric Tipler, Renewable Energy Engineering
    • Matthew Stansbury, Electrical Engineering
    • Tate Orlik Hill, Electrical Engineering
  • Shade 10: design and production of metal fabrication parts with focus on automotive industry.
    • Cole Branham, Civil Engineering
    • Boden Gahringer, Manufacturing Engineering

The 2016 Challenge will be similar in format to last year, with teams receiving coaching and technical assistance, as well as participation in a Shark Tech pitch session and development of a business plan to commercialize their invention. The winning teams will receive prize money, and a package of business supports, in collaboration with the Klamath IDEA, the Gaucho Collective and other local business resources, to enhance their ability to start and grow successful companies. The prize money is compiled through generous donations from the following sponsors:

  • Senator Doug Whitsett and Representative Gail Whitsett of the Oregon State Legislature
  • Klamath County
  • City of Klamath Falls
  • Avista Corporation
  • Black Canyon Woodworks
  • Gaucho Collective
  • Herald & News
  • Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA)
  • Klamath IDEA
  • Oregon BEST
  • Wendt Family Foundation
  • Dean of Oregon Tech's College of Engineering, Technology, and Management (ETM)
  • Dean of Oregon Tech's College of Health, Arts, and Sciences (HAS)
  • Office of Strategic Partnerships, Oregon Tech

The distinguished panel of judges from Oregon’s entrepreneurial community include:

  • Johanna Brickman, Director of Collaborative Innovation at Oregon BEST, Oregon’s Clean Tech signature research center.
  • Bill Castle, community banker and President of Lewis and Clark Bank.
  • John Lamy, the Southern Oregon Regional Representative for the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP), a consulting company that helps small manufacturers grow and thrive.
  • Kelley Minty Morris, Klamath County Commissioner, community leader and Oregon Tech Board Trustee.
  • Johanna Scholer, the Customer Service Director at Jeld-Wen, who leads over 150 team members in North America.  
  • Senator Doug Whitsett, who represents Senate District 28, and is a founding sponsor of the Catalyze KF Challenge.
  • Rich Wykoff, a 1976 graduate of Oregon Tech, veteran of Intel for 35 years, and angel investor.

Please join Oregon Tech to celebrate and cheer for the next generation of inventors, creators and entrepreneurs on Tuesday, May 17th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Oregon Tech’s College Union. For more information and competition guidelines, contact Dean Hallie Neupert, or go to