Our Story

         When Dominick first arrived at Purdue as a freshman, he had an open mindset and was looking for opportunities to bolster his passion for innovation and helping others. Being given keys to enter his dorm room, he found a common struggle that most students easily lose or forget keys. As an avid inventor and programmer, he passionately developed a SmartLock called Kleidoma which allowed him to lock and unlock his door with an RFID tag or his phone. His roommate soon took photos and published this DIY project on the Reddit website. In six hours, the post “Got Tired of Dorm Keys…” became ranked #5 on the front page of this world renowned social website.
         Several Purdue alumni recognized the dorm and even commented on the web post with high admiration. At the time, the appreciation for Dominick’s project triggered the attention of Purdue 3D Printing Club President, Ryan Kung, who openly offered to 3D print the next prototype enclosure for the Kleidoma SmartLock. Having prior experience in 3D design, Dominick sent his design files to Ryan, who promptly returned the finished prints. Ryan later recommended Dominick to visit the 3D printing lab at Knoy Hall of Technology. Eager to 3D print a new prototype, Dominick went to the BoilerMaker lab and proceeded to produce his creation.

         Vignesha was searching for a business partner for more than a year since he joined grad school. He tried exploring the Center for Entrepreneurship, took entrepreneurship courses, discussed with several students in the labs where he worked as TA and also discussed with other grad students but couldn’t find the right partner.
         When Dominick entered the BoilerMaker lab and began to print his prototype, Vignesha noticed him and asked him about the prototype. They talked and found common passions and goals in helping student innovators. Weeks later, they worked together to build a few robots and create prototypes which became award winning projects in Hackathons. With the understanding that many students have yet to associate themselves to peers who followed a passion in mechatronics, Dominick founded the Purdue Mechatronics Club. Vignesha later joined as the vice president.
         Although Dominick and Vignesha realized that their partnership was the best match, they soon realized that this was a blessing, and that there must be a platform for students to be able to find the right mentor or partner. Hence, they proposed the BoilerDriver Initiative which aims to bring an open and innovative ecosystem across Purdue campus and help students connect, interact and publicize their inventions to the campus and the world.

         Given the BoilerDriver Initiative, their first prize at the BoilerMake 2015 Hackathon, founding of the Mechatronics Club, inventions, and interest in increasing student entrepreneurship, they were nominated as University Innovation Fellows (UIF) by Dean Bertoline of Purdue Polytechnic and later selected by VentureWell. Purdue has been participating in the UIF program for the past three years. University Innovation Fellows are student leaders from across the US and Canada who are trained to expand innovation and entrepreneurship offerings on their campuses with an eye toward lasting institutional change. The program is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a partnership between Stanford University and VentureWell.
         As part of the UIF program, Dominick and Vignesha were able to gain further insights and work with more faculty in regards to the BoilerDriver Initiative. They presented their findings about Purdue’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to university leaders and how BoilerDriver would build on the many entrepreneurial assets Purdue has to increase student innovation.

About Us (UIF Bio)

About Dominick Lee

About Vignesha Bhamidi