Danielle Carpenter

Major: Agricultural and biological engineering and pharmaceutical sciences
Hometown: Plainfield, Ind.
Future plans: Has a job lined up with pharmaceutical company Catalent Pharma Solutions

The problem: Currently, many tablets are made in a five-stage process that includes wet granulation and drying. Carpenter's SOYTABS is a process as much as a product, which creates tablets out of soy in four steps where roller compaction replaces the wet granulation and drying stages. The roller compaction step is a 91 percent energy savings and the soy material is a less expensive and more bio-friendly material than what is currently in use.

$20K and bragging rights: SOYTABS won the 2010 Soybean Innovation Competition in March. The team won $20,000 and the ear of large companies that might be interested in commercializing the product.

“There are four members of our team, and we wanted to do something that would involve both engineering and pharmaceuticals," Carpenter says. "We're really excited about the possibilities from here."

Giving 110 percent: “Sometimes you just want to do the minimum to get by, but you learn a lot more when you’re involved. The soy competition is a good example. It’s not counting toward a grade, but it was a good way to learn new ways to invent things while learning to work with teammates and tackling time management."

Advice to potential students: “Find a mentor. The Society of Women Engineers does things in high school. Try to get involved in contests, science fair projects and things like that. Getting involved will help improve your skills and it’s also a great networking tool.”

By Blake Powers