Bottling system puts rewards for students on tap

A small-scale automated bottling system for microbreweries and wineries took first place in a Penn State Altoona competition of student business plans.

Start-up companies can’t afford large scale bottling systems. “They cost millions. These companies don’t have that,” Penn State Altoona student Dan Finelli said Friday at the Devorris Downtown Center.

An affordable bottling system for small companies was the focus of Finelli, Timothy Baroni, Andrew Bean, Caleb Bowser, Brittany Gill and Michael Hicks.

Their system fills, caps and labels bottles. Their selling price is $25,000.

The group of electro-mechanical engineering technology students believe there is only one company nationally in the business of small-scale bottling systems.

A prototype, built with parts made by Finelli, a former machinist, is planned for Railroad City Brewing Company in Altoona for a trial period.

The students won $5,000 to put toward developing their product.

“After 15 weeks of real hard labor, it feels good,” Finelli said.

Second place in the competition and a $2,500 check went to a group of students with a plan to reduce work-related injuries by producing a self-tilting hand truck.

It’s a regular appliance dolly with a motorized, self-tilting mechanism. Workers using it don’t have to tilt heavy loads. They only have to push.

About 40 percent of injuries to workers are shoulder and back injuries, group member Matt Adams said.

The entire group consisted of Adams, Wes Faulkner, Chris Nelson, Justin Shuhayda, Kristina Snyder and Mackenzie Sternberg.

The group will use its winnings to further improve its product.

“I think we did really well as a group,” Nelson said.

The competition was judged by Colleen Devorris, Blair Companies’ vice president of branding and strategic planning; George Sackandy, CEO and founder of Intelmarx, a software solutions and services company; and Dan Schultz, staff vice president of corporate accounts and customer support for Ward Transport and Logistics.

Aside from the competition featuring four student projects, more than 30 senior students specializing in business and engineering showcased their semester projects on Friday.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.