Innovative student design is a 'shoe-in'


Big Brain Theory team members have invented this shoe, which, at the tap of a foot, automatically fits itself to a wearer's foot.

The Big Brain Theory, a team of six North Canton Middle School students, received a top-prize, middle school division Gold Award for their BBT Shoe at the March 9 BEST Medicine engineering fair.

Hosted by The University of Akron and the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, the event challenged 125 youngsters to create medical devices and innovative therapeutic inventions.
"We looked for students thinking outside of the box and thinking innovatively, students who would recognize a problem patients have and engineer a solution,” says Elizabeth Barber, BEST Medicine coordinator.
Led by UA Women in Engineering Director Heidi Cressman, the team developed the easy-slip-on, self-strapping shoe for seniors and others with disabilities. At the tap of a foot, the BBT Shoe automatically fits itself to a wearer's foot. The team members' ingenuity also landed them the Case Western Tech Award in the middle school division and Best Ergonomic Award overall.

The young inventors, from left: Kate Lochridge, Emily Czubaj, Nicole Tysa, Ellie Plaster, Caitlin Zollinger and Sylvia Cressman.

"Being invited to participate in BEST Medicine took the project to the next level," Cressman says. "It was clear to the judges, many of them engineers and inventors, that the girls had done this themselves. They related with the process and the invention itself."
Already, the middle school inventors have a provisional patent on the shoe and Reebok has agreed to advise the team on shoe material and style.
The Big Brain Theory first drew attention to the BBT Shoe at Lego League tournaments. The North Canton team placed 98th out of 417 teams in the First Lego League Global Innovation Award category and hopes to advance when Lego picks 10 teams in April to move forward with patentable innovations that solve challenges unique to senior citizens.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or