sealPurdue News ____

June 1998

Purdue grad's invention will aid disabled students

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A color photo of Kirby Goedde and the school locker he developed is available. The photo is called "Mehta.Morganwinners."

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- What started as a good idea for a class engineering project may lead to a second career for new Purdue graduate Kirby Goedde -- before his first one has even begun.

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Goedde, who was awarded a degree in electrical engineering May 17, invented an automated school locker for disabled students while participating in a community service project.

The locker earned top honors and a $4,000 cash prize in Purdue's 1998 Burton Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition, where the judges urged him to "run, don't walk to the patent office," and "go national tomorrow."

Since then, the Evansville, Ind. , native has been meeting with patent lawyers, locating parts suppliers, planning a wedding, accepting a job to design flight-control software in Florida and preparing to launch a new company.

Goedde developed the locker to help a disabled Lafayette, Ind., student who had difficulty opening a school locker. The device uses a key-chain-sized transmitter and a special locking mechanism to unlock a locker from as much as 50 feet away. Soon after installing the locker at the student's school, Goedde had an order from the school corporation for 30 more.

"I'm definitely going to move quickly to get my business going now," he said. "This whole project started with an idea to help someone. It wasn't until I started working on the business plan for the competition that I realized I might have the makings of a real business."

Goedde's future father-in-law, who owns a machine shop in Shelbyville, Ind., will produce the devices, which can fit in any school locker manufactured in the United States. Goedde's fiancee, a 1997 communications graduate from Purdue, works at the shop and will help organize the production process. The two plan to marry in November. Goedde will manage his young company long-distance, and when not working for his new employer, Harris Flight Control in Melbourne, Fla.

"I hope to deliver my first order to Lafayette by the end of summer," Goedde said. "And I want to keep developing the locker. With any luck I'll find a school in Florida that will let me try out my new prototypes."

CONTACT: Goedde (812) 963-1725; e-mail,

Compiled by Sharon Bowker, (765) 494-2077; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,


Kirby Goedde's automated locker device for disabled students is designed to fit any school locker manufactured in the United States. A key-chain-sized transmitter can unlock the special locking mechanism from as much as 50 feet away. Goedde, a Purdue electrical engineering graduate, won the university's 11th annual Burton Morgan entrepreneurial competition this spring.
Color photo, electronic transmission, and Web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Mehta.Morganwinners
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