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What participants say

Hoopla Rack

Hoopla Rack,
third place and $4,000,
2008 Schoofs Prize for Creativity;
third place and $700,
Tong Prototype Prize;
and Younkle Best Presentation Award

“Through the whole process, I actually began to see my design turn into a prototype, and now my prototype might actually become a patented reality. By the end, I was so happy that I had chosen to take a chance on myself and do something that brought my engineering and hooping life together.”

—Danielle McIntosh

Pen Smart

Pen Smart,
$1,000 Judges’ Award for Special Merit,
2008 Schoofs Prize for Creativity

“I thought of this product two years ago—I wrote it down and kind of forgot about it for awhile. And I realized that if I didn’t do it, I’d always regret it, so I just decided to pursue it. The competition is a great outlet for anyone interested in innovation and development. The experience gives you the tools to develop the idea and the confidence to continue.”

—Daniel Gartenberg

Tong Prototype Prize

You've thought of a great new invention. Need money to build it?
A Tong grant could help you create a prototype.

Enter your idea in the university's Schoofs Prize for Creativity and you could also win the $2,500 Tong Prototype Prize for best prototype.

Tong Prototype Prize 2013 — TreeREX Tree Stand
Tong Prototype Prize 2012 — NoVo Luggage
Tong Prototype Prize 2011 — Plane Balance
Tong Prototype Prize 2010 — PolyForm Pack
Tong Prototype Prize 2009 — Eco Stream
Tong Prototype Prize 2008 — Portable Refrigerated Beverage Dispenser
Tong Prototype Prize 2007 — Ladder Cat
Tong Prototype Prize 2006 — Concentrating Solar Collector
Tong Prototype Prize 2005 — Robomouse
Tong Prototype Prize 2004 — Polymer Pellet Separation via Density
Tong Prototype Prize 2003 — Full Suspension Bicycle Frame, the AB-1

Contest Rules

Tong Prototype Prize (open only to students competing in the Schoofs Prize for Creativity)

1. Eligibility

The Tong Prototype Prize is available to all full-time undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who are registered contestants for the Schoofs Prize for Creativity. Students must follow all rules for the Schoofs Prize for Creativity to be eligible for the Tong Prototype Prize.

2. Prototype Completion

The prototype must be completed and presented at the Innovation Day competition, in order to be eligible for the Tong Prototype Prize. (The prototype does NOT need to be completed by the competition entry deadline date.) Each team will have one-half of an eight-foot table on which to display their prototype at the competition. If you require a laptop for your prototype demonstration or poster display in the Lobby, you are required to bring your own. We will not supply laptop computers for the competition.

Everyone competing with a prototype MUST have the prototype on display in the lobby the first day of the competition. We ask that you be present as much as possible throughout the day. The general public, media, and judges will want to see the prototypes and talk to you about them, particularly during the assigned breaks and prototype judging time slots. Prototype judging will take place on Thursday only. One team member must be present during your assigned prototype judging slot to demonstrate your invention to the judges. Each team will have 5 minutes to demonstrate their prototype during their assigned time slot.

3. Awards

The Tong Prototype Award will consist of the following places, given at the discretion of the judges. All decisions of the judges are final.

First place: $2,500
Second place: $1,250
Third place: $700

4. Ownership/Disclosure

All owners of the idea must be represented on the team or the entry will be declared ineligible. Once materials are submitted, UW-TEC reserves the right to publish information about the work in university publications and to release information to the media. This will be considered a public disclosure of the idea.

5. Patenting

If team members have applied for a patent on the invention, this must be disclosed in the entry. A copy of the patent application must be included with the entry.

Contestants may choose to file patent applications on their own or to disclose their inventions to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (610 Walnut Street, Madison, WI 53726-2336) before or after the competition.

PLEASE NOTE: On September 16, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the America Invents Act, which makes extensive changes to U.S. patent law. Some of these changes may directly impact Schoofs Creativity Prize competitors. Most significantly, the new law establishes that the party with the earliest filing date ("first to file") shall prevail. This shift in U.S. patent law from "first to invent" to "first to file" is a dramatic change and becomes effective on March 16, 2013. (It is noteworthy that existing patent law in many foreign countries is based upon "first to file", and in many countries applications must be filed prior to public disclosure.) So long as the "first to invent" law remains in effect, inventors retain a one-year grace period to file for a U.S. Patent after their own public disclosure of their invention, and the law is still clear that others cannot patent an idea that is derived (that is, stolen) from someone else. Nonetheless, there are many good reasons why an inventor might want to file his or her patent application before public disclosure.

To understand more about the new law, please visit:

The contest administrator cannot provide consulting on patent questions/issues. For information on patents and patenting, consult:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Wendt Commons
Nancy Spitzer, patent librarian
Room 313 Kurt F. Wendt Library

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