Purdue University students (from left) Nicole Raley Devlin of Rockville, Md., a doctoral student in chemical engineering; Yanssen Tandy of Jarkarta, Indonesia, a senior in chemical engineering; and Carmen Valverde-Paniagua of Chihuahua, Mexico, a senior in mechanical engineering, accept a check for $20,500 for their soy invention, a soy-based 3D printing material.
Purdue University students (from left) Nicole Raley Devlin of Rockville, Md., a doctoral student in chemical engineering; Yanssen Tandy of Jarkarta, Indonesia, a senior in chemical engineering; and Carmen Valverde-Paniagua of Chihuahua, Mexico, a senior in mechanical engineering, accept a check for $20,500 for their soy invention, a soy-based 3D printing material.
INDIANAPOLIS — Three-dimensional printers take images and turn them into tangible objects. A new, soy-based 3D printing material was invented as part of the 20th annual Student Soybean Innovation Competition.

Three Purdue University students won first-place honors along with the People’s Choice award for a total prize of $20,500. Their product, FilaSoy, is a renewable recyclable soy-based filament that can replace more toxic petroleum-based plastics.

“Last semester, I took a class where we created a toy and 3D printed it,” said Carmen Valverde-Paniagua, a senior in mechanical engineering.

“Learning more about the printer, we saw the potential to get into an exciting, hot industry and give it a green twist with our product. We came up with over 30 ideas. This one came out on top.”

Paniagua worked with Nicole Raley Devlin, doctoral student in chemical engineering, and Yanssen Tandy, a senior student in chemical engineering. They competed against 14 other teams, a record number of participants.

“She has worked so hard at Purdue,” said Paniagua’s mother, Carmen Paniagua Quiñones. “Many times, I’d go and visit, and she was exhausted, but it paid off. This is the second time she has won first place in the competition.”

Her previous win was for an invention called Soytronics, a soybean-based resin that can be used to make computer circuit boards.

In second place this year was the team that created Soots, an organic leather boot conditioner and polish. The team created two forms of the product: a spray that can be used on faux leather and a solid polish for genuine leather that also waterproofs the shoe.

The team won $10,000. Members included Sean Anderson, a junior in forestry; Evan Anderson, a sophomore in agricultural engineering; and Sara Richert, a sophomore in agricultural engineering,

“We call this an evening of innovation,” said Gerry Dick, creator and host of INside Indiana Business . “For a long time, Indiana has done a good job of supporting entrepreneurs and risk takers — but to have been doing it for 20 years is impressive.”

Since the beginning of the competition, dozens of products have been invented by Purdue students, including popular soy crayons and soy candles.

The competition gives students a chance to take an idea and see it through to development and even patenting.

“At Purdue, we’re very focused on experiential learning and building entrepreneurial talent,” said Jay Akridge, College of Agriculture dean. “It’s a terrific opportunity to build soft skills — communication, critical thinking, team building and leadership.”

Students across the university also have a chance to see what agricultural commodities and byproducts have to offer through the program, he said.

The competition is a joint effort of the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Purdue.

“When you think about products: bioengineering, biomaterials — that’s really where the future exists for everybody in this room and for the rest of the world,” said Bernie Tao, Purdue professor.

“Whether its green products or bioenergy — all of these products that you see and the legacy that they will leave 20 or more years from now is really where the future lies for all of us.”