Big Idea winner, a plastics machine, to compete for state prize

April 14, 2017

Members of UW-Stout’s Maxtruder team.

The winner of UW-Stout’s Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament will compete for the $2,000 top prize in the state tournament Saturday, April 22, in Madison.

The student entrepreneurship competition will feature an entry from each UW System school. UW-Stout’s entry is Maxtruder, a plastics extrusion machine. It beat out seven other student entries during a campus contest in late February.

Maxtruder is named after its inventor, Max Zamzow, a plastics engineering major from Byron, Minn. The machine helps users of personal or smaller 3D printers recycle their plastics waste into usable plastic filament for their 3D printers, saving them time and money and reducing waste within the 3D printing pipeline.

Other team members and their majors are:

  • Louis Bischel, of Bloomer, mechanical and manufacturing engineering
  • Leah McNutt, of Ixonia, applied mathematics and computer science
  • Richard Shipman, of Spooner, applied science
  • Dacia Sjolund, of Aitkin, Minn., entertainment design

The competition was coordinated and sponsored by UW-Stout’s Discovery Center Fab Lab.

The WBIT contest is managed by the WiSys Technology Foundation and UW-Extension. The state winner will go on to compete internationally.

3 Day Startup

UW-Stout also held a 3 Day Startup business competition on the same weekend in February, prior to WBIT. Applicants were narrowed to 40 people, who were selected to participate.

During the weekend, 17 business ideas were fielded by participants who then, through a blind vote, selected seven of the ideas. Those seven ideas then became weekend start-up businesses, according to Mary Spaeth, and event adviser and UW-Stout assistant professor of entrepreneurship in the School of Management.

Participants joined the teams of the ideas they liked best. The business idea names were Dam Algae, One ‘n’ Done, Happy Mirror, Transitions Matter, Herb ’n Truck, Never Again and Maxtruder.

The facilitator for the event was 3 Day Startup’s Sandra Spencer of Alberta, Canada.



Members of UW-Stout’s Maxtruder team, which advanced to the state level of the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament, are from left Richard Shipman, Louis Bischel, Leah McNutt, Dacia Sjolund and event official Sandra Spencer. Missing is Max Zamzow.