Invasive Carp Challenge Finalists Compete for $500K

Invasive Carp Challenge Finalists Compete for $500K
Boaters can and have been injured when hit by leaping invasive silver carp weighing up to 40 pounds. (Photo courtesy Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee/Michigan DNR)

Boaters can and have been injured when hit by leaping invasive silver carp weighing up to 40 pounds. (Photo courtesy Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee/Michigan DNR)

Michigan is serious about keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes — a half-million dollars serious.

The state-sponsored Great Lake Invasive Carp Challenge program, offers $500,000 in prizes in a worldwide search to find the best ideas to stop the spread.

In June 2017, a silver carp was caught just nine miles away from Lake Michigan, below the electric barrier system designed to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes.  In 2010, a bighead carp was also captured below the barrier system.

According to the Michigan DNR, invasive bighead, silver and black carp could significantly alter the Great Lakes ecosystem, affecting the $7 billion fishery, $16 billion boating industries.

Watch the Great Lakes Invasive Carp Challenge's four finalists compete for $500,000 in cash on Tuesday beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern at

The Invasive Carp Challenge, introduced by Gov. Rick Snyder in February 2017, netted 353 entries from 27 countries.

The four finalists — a software consultant, robotics professor, civil engineer and hydraulic engineer — will compete for the cash prizes during a "Carp Tank" livestream event, Tuesday, March 27, at 9:30 a.m. (ET).

The finalists will have 15 minutes to present their ideas and five minutes to respond to judges' questions.

The finalists each receive $10,000 and to compete for prizes of $200,000, $125,000, $100,000 and $75,000. The awards presentation will be live-streamed Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. (ET)

The four finalists:

  • Edem Tsikata, a software consultant from Boston who holds a Ph.D. in experimental atomic physics from Harvard University and spent time as a researcher in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  
  • Dr. D.J. Lee, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University who is a professor and director of the Robotic Vision Laboratory in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Brigham Young University. 
  • David A. Hamilton, a senior policy director for The Nature Conservancy, focusing on reducing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes region. He holds an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  
  • Michael Scurlock, a hydraulic engineer with RiverRestoration who has published multiple design methodologies for implementation of river restoration structures. He holds a doctorate from Colorado State University and is a registered professional engineer.

"Protecting the Great Lakes is a top priority for the state and its residents because invasive carp pose a serious threat to our ecology and economy," Snyder said in a news release. "The Carp Challenge has spurred innovators and entrepreneurs to bring their best ideas to the table to help the Great Lakes region combat this imminent threat. I'm excited to learn more about their proposals." 

Read more about the Great Lake Invasive Carp Challenge and Michigan's prevention efforts

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