Students Take Top Prize in Green Energy Competition

Three Rutgers students with ambitions of building a company around a new device for harvesting wind power won the top prize of $50,000 last April in a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored business pitch competition.

The winning technology was developed by mechanical engineering doctoral student David Talarico, who originally developed the apparatus for his 2012 undergraduate senior design project. After signing up for a new course offered by the Rutgers Business School focused on taking new technologies to market, his unique device is catching a second wind.

Collaborative for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (CTEC), a new initiative led by Rutgers Business School professors Ted Baker and Roger Debo and School of Engineering professor Stephen Tse, is designed to give graduate students the experience of working as entrepreneurs, from vetting proposed technology to pitching to investors.

Teamed with Ryan Annibali and Antoni Milewski, part-time Rutgers MBA students, and given a variety of technologies to systematically evaluate for their market potential, Talarico decided to add his patent-pending wind-harvesting technology to the mix.

"It became very clear that this was a viable technology," Milewski said of his teammate’s idea, which they ultimately chose for their class project.

At the center of the team’s business plan is a 15-foot sail that moves back and forth on a track harvesting wind that is converted into energy. A 17-story office building equipped with 18 of their devices would generate enough power to supply 100 percent of the building’s energy needs. One of the benefits of the roof-top turbine is its price: about half the upfront cost of a solar array of the same capacity.