Local students named innovation contest finalists, need your vote to win

The Back Straight Boys

Officials with the Conrad Foundation selected students from Canyon Crest Academy to compete in the final round of the 2012-2013 Spirit of Innovation Challenge. The team, the “Back Straight Boys,” is one of 20 high school teams from around the world invited to present their innovative product at the 2013 Innovation Summit April 10-13 in Houston, Texas for the chance to win one of four $10,000 prizes.

The annual competition, presented by Lockheed Martin Corporation and Battelle, challenges teams of students ages 13-18 from around the world to combine innovation and entrepreneurship along with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to create commercially-viable products to benefit humanity. The 2013 teams developed new technologies to solve challenges in the areas of aerospace and aviation, cybertechnology and security, energy and environment, and health and nutrition.

Members of the team include: Sean Colford, Ethan Eptein, Brandon Loye and Michael C. Walsh. Their team, the “Back Straight Boys,” developed an ergonomically-designed seatpad that is electronically programed to give the user feedback as whether or not they are sitting at the computer with good posture habits. The device assists the user to improve their posture habit which in turn lowers their risk factor for developing muscle pain and repetitive stress injuries.

The “Back Straight Boys” received national acclaim for their invention in the past. They are now working on the development of their business and marketing plan and streamlining their prototype for this latest competition. In addition the team’s studies have been published in the international journal, “Work: a Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation.” The team has also applied for a patent, which is still pending.

Before the 2013 Innovation Summit, the “Back Straight Boys” have one more hurdle to jump — the People’s Choice video contest. From March 18 – 29, the public is invited to review the profiles of the 20 finalist teams, view their product videos and cast a vote for their favorite video.

San Diego-area residents are encouraged to vote for their hometown team by visiting

One vote is allowed per person in each challenge category. Public votes provide valuable points in each team’s overall score.

“To say these young people are creating unique and impressive products only gives a piece of the education puzzle,” said Jennifer Fotherby, executive director of the Spirit of Innovation Challenge. “The practical knowledge, leadership and teamwork skills they are developing will serve them well as they become the innovative workforce of the 21st century.”

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