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Student Innovation Project, Robotics and Embedded Systems, Digital Maker and Fabrication, Student Innovation

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Innovative Hybrid Controller Earns Ian Sbar Best SIP Pitch Award

Ian Sbar, a talented student at the University of Advancing Technology (UAT), has been honored with the Best SIP Pitch Award at the Student Innovation Project (SIP) Presentation. His winning project, titled "The Hybrid Controller," showcases his ingenuity and technical skills. Ian, a dual major in Digital Maker and Fabrication, as well as Robotics and Embedded Systems, is set to graduate in August 2024.

Hailing from Amarillo, Texas, Ian's journey to UAT began during the final months of his high school education. He and his parents were in search of a college that prioritized hands-on learning over traditional lectures, which led them to UAT. A visit to the campus solidified Ian's decision to pursue his higher education there.

Reflecting on his achievement, Ian expressed surprise at winning the award. "I’m still surprised I got the award for the Best SIP Pitch. This isn’t because I think my SIP pitch was bad, but because I wasn’t really trying to win an award with it. I just did what I thought was funny or entertaining to me when I made the video pitch," he explained.

Ian's most memorable moments at UAT involve the camaraderie and fun he shared with new friends, particularly while playing fighting games like Smash Brothers and King of Fighters. When asked about the most influential person in his journey, Ian named Professor Prater. "This is a tough one for me, but I think the most influential person to me at UAT is Professor Prater since he’s always been present in my UAT journey since it started. Many of the classes that taught me the skills I used for my SIP, such as soldering, were taught by him," he said.

The Hybrid Controller, Ian's innovative project, is a unique blend of an arcade fightstick and an analog joystick from standard gaming controllers like those for Xbox and PlayStation consoles. The base of the controller features an 8-button layout typical of fightsticks, assigned to the console controller’s face and shoulder buttons. Additionally, it includes a wii-nunchuck-like peripheral shaped like the left half of an Xbox controller, complete with an analog stick, D-pad, and two shoulder buttons.

Looking ahead, Ian plans to refine his Hybrid Controller. "I definitely plan on improving the design of the Hybrid controller more. There are a lot of little things that could be touched up, such as rounding off the edges of the box and having a better way to connect the 'nunchuck' to the box. Since this project was made to solve a personal problem, I don’t plan on marketing it," he shared.

The SIP process was not without its challenges. Ian recounted a particularly difficult phase: "If you watched the SIP video, you probably know about the fact that I had destroyed 6 controllers in making the first prototype. This was because I struggled to get the D-Pad component off the controllers without breaking them, and figuring out how to avoid damaging the component was a big challenge."

Despite the hurdles, the most rewarding aspect for Ian was seeing his project come to life. "I think the best part about the SIP process for me is seeing my project properly working in action. I’ve been using the Hybrid controller to play fighting games and it feels great!" he enthused.

Ian Sbar's accomplishment at the SIP Presentation highlights not only his technical prowess but also his creativity and perseverance. His success is a testament to the hands-on, innovative learning environment fostered at UAT.

Learn more about how Student Innovation Projects contribute to career readiness, here.

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