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Beloit-Make48 Solar Energy Challenge: A Recap

This weekend we witnessed the brilliance and ingenuity of 8 talented teams as they strived to make a difference in the field of solar energy. The Lincoln Academy’s SECOND Make48 competition was a resounding success, highlighting the institution's commitment to hands-on learning, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Teams at the Beloit-Make48 competition were tasked with creating a new prototype for Alliant Energy in the theme of “Panels to Planet-Repower with Purpose,” with the goal of pushing the boundaries of solar panel technology and sustainability. The specific criteria and challenge details were revealed to the teams at the start of the competition.

The event's impact extended beyond the competition itself, fostering an environment where students and the Beloit community collaborated, innovated, and grew to ultimately becoming the best versions of themselves.

Make48’s competition highlighted the commitment of The Lincoln Academy to fostering an environment where students and the community can collaborate, innovate, and grow. Teams had access to TLA's well-equipped makerspace, which included tools, equipment, and materials to fuel their creativity. As well as the “Secret Sauce” of the competitions, a roomful of Tool Techs including Matt Schultz (TLA Makerspace director) and Adam Kittrell (M48 Lead Tech).

Collaboration and unity were valued in this 48-hour creative process and was emphasized throughout the event. Contestants came from diverse backgrounds and skill levels, and they had access to expert tool technicians, mentors, and volunteers who supported them. Various companies and educational institutions participated to help the teams with the creative process including; CCI, ShopBot Tools, Fastenal, CD Smith Construction, Fairbanks Morse Defense, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, City of Beloit, Airgas, CNC Solutions, Stoughton High Schools, Up The Ante Production, Pico Blvd Entertainment, Beloit FilmWorks LLC, Madison Area Technical College, Betz Botz, The Lincoln Academy, Beloit College, Beloit Public School District and Black Hawk Technical College. To ensure originality and avoid patent infringement, patent attorney Paul Donovan was present at the competition. His expertise helped safeguard the authenticity of the prototypes.

A significant part of the competition was the hardware run to Harris Ace Hardware. Teams had limited time and funds to gather necessary supplies for building their prototypes. The supportive staff at Harris Ace Hardware played a crucial role in the successful creation of the solar panel prototypes.

The stakes were high for the top 2 winning teams from Beloit. Both teams will advance to compete in Season 7 in North Little Rock this November. The First place team received a cash prize of $2,000 and both teams were given a gift set filled with tools from Stanley Black & Decker from Blain's Farm & Fleet! All the teams will be featured in a 3-minute highlight reel and a 27-minute episode airing on the 'This Old House' makers channel on Roku (channel 458).

With the promise of a bright future, the spirit of creativity and innovation at The Lincoln Academy continues to shine brightly. We have many to thank, but would like to highlight Alliant Energy and their incredible team, Dr. Kristi Cole (The Lincoln Academy), Kerry Frank (Beloit 200) and to all of the local Beloit sponsors for bringing Make48 back to the charming and diverse city of Beloit.

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