Thanks to three Oregon State University students and the university’s new Collaboratory program, the Utah Ballroom Dance Company will be lighting up the stage on their next tour with dance suits made with electroluminescent wire.
As seen on shows like “America’s Got Talent,” the troupe will incorporate the light strings into their choreography for a hip hop and Latin fusion dance. Although other dance groups have developed their own light-up devices controlled wirelessly by computer, no one has made them broadly available.
The company was able to turn to the OSU Collaboratory to develop a prototype for the suits they wanted. The program began this year with seed funding from the Tektronix Foundation, which has long helped provide OSU students with work-relevant experiences. In this initiative, student interns are employed in small teams to work on a specific project. Industry clients, including Tektronix and Texas Instruments, provide mentorship.
Jesse Maher, production manager for the Utah Ballroom Dance Company, was happy with the student’s results.
“Working with the Collaboratory was incredible,” Maher said. “They were professional and took the time to really understand my vision and needs. The best part was they were as excited as I was to be creating our own take on this concept.”
Electrical and computer engineering students Brian Benevidez, Chelsea Collette, and Tuan Truong completed the project for the Utah Ballroom Company over the summer but wanted to take it a step further. They launched a Kickstarter project called Electric Feel and are attempting to raise $10,000 in 30 days. Kickstarter is a platform to raise funds for independent projects in which backers pledge money that will be funded only if the monetary target is reached by the deadline.
“The fact that you could potentially see this as a consumer product was really exciting,” said Truong.
Don Heer, instructor for the Collaboratory, said the program is experiencing rapid growth as more companies discover its versatility. “Tapping young minds like those at OSU can help any company create new and vital products and services,” Heer said.