“Makers Madness” Contest Enters Final Round

 Voters to Decide “The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois”

March 21, 2023 – As voting opens in the final round of the 2023 “Makers Madness” contest, four products have emerged as finalists in the bracket-style tournament hosted by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association that lets voters decide which product is The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.

Presented by Comcast Business, the competition celebrates the incredible work of manufacturers across Illinois. Manufacturers have long served as the backbone of our state’s economy and produce everything from nutritious food and snacks to life-saving vaccines and medical treatments. Manufacturers also make electric vehicles, sporting equipment and structural products like steel, rebar and motors, as well as chemicals, high-tech gadgets used for national defense, and energy to power homes and businesses. A recent study found the total economic impact of manufacturing in Illinois is estimated to be between $580 billion and $611 billion every year – the largest share of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product.

Over the past week, voters chose their favorites in four head-to-head matchups between individual products, with 55,516 votes cast in this round. From an original field of nearly 250 products, nominees for The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois have now been whittled down to the Top 4 which are: Drug Terminator made by Elastec in Carmi; 17th Street Barbecue Sauces manufactured by 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro; the 77GHz Radar for Driver’s Assistance and Automated Driving made by Hella Electronics Corp in Flora; and the Rosenberg Moon Habitat manufactured by Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc. in  Rockford.

“The diversity of products that have made it to this final round demonstrate the dynamic nature of our state’s manufacturing sector, as well as the versatility of the women and men who work on our factory floors,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Whether it’s delicious sauces created by a champion pitmaster, housing for astronauts on the moon, a portable drug incinerator to fight narcotics abuse, or a compact sensor to assist drivers and improve road safety, voters have a great field to choose from. We look forward to seeing which product emerges as the winner to earn this year’s title as The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.”

More details about the products in the “Makers Madness” Top 4 are as follows:

Drug Terminator

Manufactured by Elastec in Carmi, the Drug Terminator is a portable drug incinerator designed to help healthcare officials and law enforcement safely destroy prescription drugs or confiscated narcotics. It can be used to destroy evidence drugs and prescription medication collected during drug take-back programs. The destruction of released evidence drugs and other non-hazardous waste found at illegal drug lab sites present unique challenges to law enforcement, military police, and airport customs officials. The Elastec Drug Terminator was created to destroy such narcotics, turning them into ash in a safe and efficient manner.

17th Street Barbecue Sauces

Manufactured by 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, 17th Street Barbecue Sauce comes in various flavors and is a special sauce made for ribs, chicken pulled pork and much more. It is a creation of champion pitmaster, Barbecue Hall of Fame inductee and 17th Street Barbecue founder, Mike Mills, who was affectionately known as “The Legend.” The sauces are used in 17th Street Barbecue restaurants in Southern Illinois and marketed nationally as a great addition to the seasoning arsenal of barbecue enthusiasts.

77GHz Radar for Driver’s Assistance and Automated Driving

Made by Hella Electronics Corp in Flora, the 77GHz Radar for Driver’s Assistance and Automated Driving is a compact sensor to assist drivers and improve road safety. It records and evaluates object-related speed, bracket, and distance information thereby detecting and warning drivers of dangerous situations at an early stage. The sensors enable 360-degree detection of moving objects such as pedestrians or vehicles, as well as non-moving surrounding objects. The radar can be used regardless of weather conditions such as fog, rain, or snow and can detect both distance and relative speed.

Rosenberg Moon Habitat

Ingersoll Machine Tools’ entry, the Rosenberg Moon Habitat was designed by the Rosenberg Institute based on years of research and planning. It is a place for astronauts to stay and live when they return to the moon. Because of the habitat’s large size, it is impossible to print it on Earth and launch it. Ingersoll collaborated with the Rosenberg Institute to produce a machine that gives them the capability to print the habitat on site. It is a three-story habitat built to house a crew of two and is the world’s tallest single-piece 3D printed polymer structure, with a height of 23 feet, but a thickness of only 5 millimeters. It is made of 6 panels and is a unique contribution to space exploration and travel.

Voting for this round is now open and will take place at www.makersmadnessil.com through 11:59 p.m. on March 26. Voters may cast one vote per day for any of the four finalists. The contest will culminate with an awards ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion on March 29 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“Congratulations and best of luck to the Top 4,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “Comcast Business is proud to be part of the Makers Madness contest and to support manufacturing in the state. We can’t wait to see who will triumph this year.”

To ensure the state’s manufacturing sector remains strong, the IMA is working to pass several measures this legislative session including reforming the state’s biometric information privacy law, modernizing and making permanent Illinois’ Research & Development Tax Credit, creating further workforce development opportunities and providing tax incentives to spur additional Illinois manufacturing.

Previous contest winners include Rivian’s all-electric R1T truck made in Normal, the first all-electric truck in production featuring four motors, with one powering each wheel; the Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater by Termico Technologies in Elk Grove Village, which uses conductive particles to heat traffic signals so they remain free of ice and snow and traffic can safely navigate our roadways; and the 797F Mining Truck manufactured by Caterpillar, Inc. in Decatur, the world’s largest mechanical truck.

Timeline of events:

February 2 – February 19: Nominations accepted at www.makersmadnessil.com

February 21 – March 5: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16

March 7 – March 12: First round of voting to determine Top 8

March 14 – March 19: Second round of voting to determine Top 4

March 21 – March 26: Final round of voting

March 29: Winner of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois announced

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, visit https://ima-net.org/.

We think you may also like…