Kent: WRHS grad’s invention competes for prize

March 26, 2014 

Warner Robins High School alum Garrett Wade has an opportunity to turn his senior project at Georgia Tech into cash and a patent.

You can help. Tune in at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to GPB TV’s broadcast of “The InVenture Prize,” a sort of reality competition show between Georgia Tech students where projects will be judged on the criteria of innovation, marketability, market size, inventor passion and probability of success.

Wade, who will graduate in May with a degree in electrical engineering, started along the path with his senior project assignment.

“It is where you plan, build and follow through with a project from start to finish,” he explained. “Basically, it is where you put everything you have learned at Georgia Tech together and build something.”

What Wade and his friends Jake Howard, Richie Choy and Ian MacKenzie did was build a guitar training device. It has a removable harness with LED lights that attach to a guitar and can be programmed to display chords, scales and songs with lights to aid in learning to play the guitar.

“It is like Guitar Hero for a real guitar,” Wade said. “But much easier to learn than Guitar Hero.”

Guitar Hero is a popular video game where participants “play” the guitar based on colors on the screen.

The idea was a natural fit for the four, who Wade said have all worked through the process of learning guitar. Their invention, the Enlighten Music Trainer, also takes the expense out of private lessons. The group has tried out their invention on fellow students at Georgia Tech, and all have found it a great help in learning how to play the guitar.

Wade and his friends first displayed their project at the Capstone Design Expo, which awards cash prizes. They didn’t win, but one of the Georgia Tech professors was so impressed he recommended them for the semi-final round of “The InVenture Prize.”

They made it to the finals and statewide television. Along with trying to impress the judges, the competitors will be trying to impress the audience as well. The audience can vote by text for their favorite team, and that team will win a $5,000 cash prize. The winner of “The InVenture Prize” will receive a patent and $20,000.

“One of the ideas of the competition is whether it will sell,” said Wade. “They are looking for something that can hit the market hard.”

Contact Alline Kent at 478-396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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