Student invention that transforms gas cars into hydrogen powered vehicles takes top prize at PSU Cleantech Challenge
Author: Christina Williams
Posted: April 5, 2019
The 2019 PSU Cleantech Challenge Winner is Turner Automotive Team Turner Automotive won the 2019 Portland State University (PSU) Cleantech Challenge Friday, taking home the $2,000 top prize for its low-cost kit for transforming a gas-powered car into a hydrogen vehicle.

Named for the team lead, PSU mechanical engineering student Blake Turner, Turner Automotive also won the $500 prizes for Best Prototype and People’s Choice Award. Excellent Devices, a team of computer science students who invented a system of sensors for early detection of forest fires won a $500 prize for the best pitch.

In addition, Turner Automotive and Excellent Devices will receive $500 in prototype grants to advance to statewide the InventOR Collegiate Challenge invention competition. InventOR finals will take place at PSU in June.  

The seventh annual PSU Cleantech Challenge, supported by Wells Fargo, gives students the opportunity to develop innovations that address the social, environmental, and economic challenges of the region and take their ideas from concept to reality. Each team receives a $1,500 for prototype development. In its seventh year, the Challenge has become an inspirational cornerstone of invention and entrepreneurship education at PSU. Seven finalist teams spent the last 90 days developing a prototype of their invention and honing their pitch to potential investors.

During TechFest NW at PSU's Viking Pavilion they delivered those pitches and showed off their prototypes to an audience of judges who ranked the teams based on the potential impact of their inventions, the qaulity of their prototypes and the effictiveness of thier pitch.

The seven competing teams represent PSU programs in computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, environmental sustainability, economics, and business. In addition to the winning teams, other competitors included:

  • Living Window: a hydroponic system for growing food in the home  
  • Meals by the Day: a meal planning app designed to prevent food waste
  • Mussel: a device for cleaning up floating plastics in rivers and lakes
  • Protechable: a biodegradable helmet for bike and scooter riders
  • SanctuAIRy: a technology for improving air quality in commercial aircraft cabins  

“The Cleantech Challenge is a testament to how PSU is nurturing the next generation of Oregon innovators,” said Juan Barraza, director of student innovation at the Center for Entrepreneurship at Portland State and lead organizer of the Cleantech Challenge. “Each of these teams has a solution that can make a positive impact on our world. This competition is a showcase of that innovation, but it’s not the last we’ll hear from these students.”  

To learn more about the PSU Cleantech Challenge, visit Information about the InventOR competition can be found at