READING, Pa. — Two Penn State Berks engineering students are tackling the issue of plastic waste by using it as filament for 3-D printers. Their team, Trimatis, is one of six finalists competing in this year’s Inc.U competition, sponsored by Penn State’s Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP). The finalists earned a spot on WPSU’s "The Investment" television show where they will pitch their ideas in a "Shark Tank"-style format to a panel of judges for a chance to win investment funding. The show will air on WPSU-TV on April 7.
Jason Lehrer, a senior mechanical engineering major, and Tito Orjih, a junior electro-mechanical engineering technology major, comprise the Trimatis team. The project originated from Lehrer’s research with his professor, Marietta Scanlon. He began conducting relevant research with Scanlon in the summer of 2016 and has been working on research related to this project since last summer. They soon realized the commercial potential of the project.
Meanwhile Orjih had similar interests. He was also interested in business and marketing. He completed an internship for an environmental company in Philadelphia, which led to his entering a contest sponsored by National Geographic with a similar project idea. Scanlon thought the two students complemented each other and introduced them and soon they were collaborating on the project.
According to Lehrer, the team name “Trimatis” is Lithuanian for “three dimensional” and the name not only encompasses the subject of the project but also the three people who have brought it to fruition: himself, Orjih and Scanlon.
PennTAP manages the competition, designed specifically for undergraduate students at the University to foster entrepreneurship, now in its third year. Students submit video pitches for their start-up ideas and businesses, which are reviewed by a panel of judges who narrow the field to six finalists. This year the competition had 72 submissions, the most it has seen since its inception. Four out of the six finalists, including the Berks Trimatis team, are from campuses outside University Park.
Orjih was instrumental in creating the video that was submitted to PennTAP.
In addition to the opportunity to pitch their idea during "The Investment," there will be two additional occasions to present: one during Penn State “Startup Week” on March 29 at Penn State University Park, and another at the Invent Penn State Venture and IP Conference on April 19 at the Penn Stater Conference Center.