NERFS at InventOR 2022

A team of engineering and management students from Oregon Institute of Technology earned third place in the Invent Oregon (InventOR) 2022 Collegiate Challenge finals on June 24 at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass. The National Early Response Firefighting System (NERFS) was one of the two Oregon Tech teams that competed and one of the 40 student teams from 20 partnering colleges and universities. NERFS also received the Visionary Award and People’s Choice Award.

For the competition, NERFS developed an early fire deterrent system to reduce the time between a fire being spotted to a fire being fought. The concept utilizes specially made mortar rounds that can deliver a biodegradable fire retardant via an automatic aiming and firing mortar system. The team tied for third place and was presented the Visionary Award in recognition of their work to present a bold idea.

Graeme Wiltrout, a business management student, and Dylon Yoshinaga, a healthcare management and administration student, oversee administration of the team, while mechanical engineering students Fletcher Stults, Marcus Delamarter, Toby Ruston, and Sydney Beers work on the hardware sub-team. The software sub-team consists of software engineering students Logan Rivera, Jemisha Vargas, and Gabriel Bafia, and embedded systems engineering student Brandon Moehlmann.

InventOR is the state’s only college-level prototyping competition, providing the grants and guidance necessary to take a student team’s idea for positive impact through all stages of prototyping. At the InventOR finals, students present their inventions and compete for $30,000 in cash prizes.

Pam and Peter Horan, founders of the Oregon-based investment and consulting group Horan Mediatech Advisors (HMTA), worked with InventOR to develop the Visionary Award several years ago. Awarding it to NERFS, HMTA stated, “Given the impact of wildfires across the West, particularly in Oregon, we felt NERFS is a great example of the ambition we hoped to reward with the Visionary Award. This is the second time a team from Oregon Tech has won this award.”

“We are thrilled to be part of the community supporting InventOR,” said Peter. “We believe this program will encourage students from all backgrounds, in all areas of the economy, and in all parts of the state, to create exciting new businesses. InventOR helps to open the door to the American dream to more students.”

The NERFS team hopes its invention will ultimately bring peace of mind to those who live in areas at high risk of wildfires.