STC.UNM and the UNM Innovation Academy recently hosted their seventh student pitch competition on April 16. The competition, The Rainforest Student Pitch Competition, is an opportunity for aspiring student entrepreneurs to present their innovative ideas for products, services and technologies to local entrepreneurs, investors, and business professionals. The competition is open to currently enrolled students from any university in the state of New Mexico. Mostafa Peysokhan, a UNM engineering student, pitched his device to compact 50 plastic bags into small disks at the event and won a finalist award. To read more about his innovation see Hazel Simmons April 25, 2018 article, “UNM student invents plastic bag-compressing device,” from DailyLobo.com, reprinted below. See a related article on the event at https://stc.unm.edu/latest-rainforest-pitch-competition-a-success/.
UNM student invents plastic bag-compressing device
Mostafa Peysokhan, an international student studying optical science and engineering at the University of New Mexico, is not willing to stand by and watch plastic bags pollute waters and harm marine wildlife.
In February of this year, Peysokhan came up with an idea that could potentially change the impact of plastic bags on our world.
He designed a device that can compress up to 50 plastic bags and by using heat and pressure, will turn them into a small compact disk.
“The idea just came to me, and I went home and got a rough design done of it in one night,” Peysokhan said.
An estimated 100 million tons of plastic bags are in the ocean, 1,500 pounds of which are coming from one average American family each year, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
“The majority of the problem is the fact that the volume to surface ratio of a plastic bag is really high, so I thought compressing them would be the greatest solution,” Peysokhan said.
He said he designed a device that is both compact and cheap, making it accessible for people to use in their homes.
This April, Peysokhan submitted his idea to the Rainforest Student Pitch Competition. In this competition, each contestant is given 90 seconds to impress the judges with their invention, he said. He landed among nine other finalists and was later compensated for his innovative idea.
“It is such a special opportunity for international students. It gives us the chance to speak in front of a lot of people. It gave me a lot of confidence,” he said.
Lobo Rainforest, the dorms located in Downtown Albuquerque, provided resources to assist with this idea.
“This invention would not be possible without UNM (and) Lobo Rainforest is a really good place for innovation. They were all so supportive of me,” Peysokhan said.
Powered by STC.NM, formerly known as the Science and Technology Cooperation at UNM, the new dorms and the Rainforest Student Pitch Competition were started with a vision of innovation and economic development.
“All of the initiatives in the Lobo Rainforest…are designed to stimulate a robust environment of innovation and entrepreneurial activity,” said Lisa Kuuttila, the CEO of STC.NM. “We foster the innovation through programming, but it also occurs from ‘collisions’ as people interact in the building informally.”
Stanly Schug, a close friend of Peysokhan and his family, said, “They truly are such great representatives of their culture — they are smart and kind. Something really needs to be done about plastic bags and he (Peysokhan) is really trying to make it happen.”
Hazel Simmons is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @hazsimmons.