Angela Corrado was recently on a plane waiting to take off when she saw her luggage fall off the carrier and sit forgotten on the ground. It wasn't until she alerted airline officials that they reunited it with the other passengers' luggage.
That experience helped Corrado, an industrial design major at Rochester Institute of Technology, create Turas, a business concept that would help reunite owners with their missing luggage via a GPS unit built into the suitcase.
Corrado, of Marlboro, N.Y., and her group, who came up with their concept last quarter, took first place Wednesday night in RIT's Shark Tank competition. However, the four judges, from Rochester's business and entrepreneurial community, agreed the team should forget about manufacturing the suitcases and concentrate on the device, which can be placed inside a piece of luggage.
"I've got luggage. I'm not going to go out and buy luggage. But I'd go out and buy this device tomorrow," said Bill Jones, one of the judges and director of RIT's Venture Creations.
Six teams competed in the finals from a pool of 50 and won cash prizes from $250 to $2,000.
First place: Turas, Corrado and Steven Asselanis of Manassas, Va.; Jared Rube of Pepper Pike, Ohio; and Alex Dupont of Nashua, N.H.
Second place: APPture LLC, an application that allows the display of a mobile device onto other nearby devices even from different manufacturers. Students are Auston LeRoy of Auburn, N.Y., and Evan Starkman of Patchogue, N.Y.
Third place: Mahesh Galgalikar, an electrical engineering student from Yavatmal, India, who wants to create a basic device to identify heart defects by comparing the patterns of heartbeats. He said this would be useful in remote areas of the world where there is no access to hospitals or MRI machines.
Fourth place: Samuel Nelson, a software engineering student from Brunswick, Maine, for Antipiracy Agent, software that would detect copyrighted content on other websites.
Fifth place: Academic Based Career Development, a service that connects consumers to employers and academic institutions by comparing skills to the skills needed for specific jobs. Students are Dmitry Liapitch of Ithaca, N.Y., and Sourabh Jain of Indore, India.
Sixth place: Canalyzer, a recycling bin that will add up the value of the cans or other recyclables that are put inside it. Students are Tegan Spinner of Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Ben Dobiz of Columbus, Ohio.
"The judges were impressed with all six presentations," said Richard DeMartino, director of the Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship. "These are the best of 50 campus-wide applications, so they should all be proud."
RIT's Shark Tank competition was hosted by the E. Philip Saunders College of Business.