Colgate senior Justin Altus has a knack for innovation. In his four years at Colgate, he’s developed two wildly different products – one a website and the other a shot glass – which offer simple, effective solutions to simple, common problems.
Between the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012, Altus served as technological advisor to the Student Government Association (SGA). On a regular basis, he heard complaints that Cruisers were unreliable and hard to find when you needed one; in response, he developed a website called BusPath. The site uses GPS and Google Maps to track the real-time locations of Colgate’s Cruisers and aims to give students an accurate sense of when and where a Cruiser will arrive.
The website is a simple solution, modeled on more expensive systems at larger schools but built on a small budget, and it offers advantages beyond an accurate bus schedule. If Cruisers are more easily located, more people will use them, making students less likely to drive late at night. Additionally, an increase in Cruiser use minimizes the use of private cars on campus and decreases traffic, helping Colgate’s various green initiatives. The site, www.colgate.buspath.com, is accessible by smartphone and is available for public use.
Less than a year after developing BusPath, Altus saw another opportunity for innovation. He and longtime friend Andrew Levin, a current senior at the University of Pennsylvania, noticed the popularity of “chasers” at college parties and bars. A chaser, a non-alcoholic beverage consumed immediately after a shot of liquor, involves a two-gulp process and two separate vessels, so Altus and Levin invented the Canister: a single vessel, separated into two chambers by a plastic slide. Twisting the two chambers activates a simple locking mechanism, which holds the chaser in the bottom half and the liquor in the top. The user drinks the shot and simultaneously releases the lock so that the chaser smoothly follows the liquor.
Admittedly, the Canister solves a minor problem. For years, students have somehow overcome the hassle of using two separate drinking vessels when taking shots. However, the advantage of Canister lies in simplicity. The Canister is lightweight, nearly unbreakable, dishwasher safe and easily mass-produced. The device is made in California and can be personalized – logos or wording can be printed onto the top compartment – and comes in a variety of designs and colors.
Additionally, Altus’ experience highlights the real-world applications of material taught in class.
“A discussion of polarity in my freshman year physics class, with Professor Enrique Galvez, was the impetus behind the Canister,” Altus said. “Additionally, the user interface of BusPath wouldn’t have been possible without Professor Meg Worley and her graphic design knowledge.”
Altus and Levin plan to market the Canister to the college crowd, but both have brought the product on their travels around the world, notably to Paris, Monaco and Shanghai, and were met with enthusiastic students and bartenders everywhere.
In general, the Canister and its inventors, its effectiveness, its simplicity, the professional nature of their work, speak to the impressive entrepreneurship that takes place on campuses like Colgate every year. Altus is
looking forward to Colgate’s Entrepreneurship Weekend.
“I’m hoping Ashton [Kutcher] will take a Canister shot,” Altus said. The Canister will soon be available at the Colgate Bookstore. They cost $12 a piece.
Contact Connor Crozer at [email protected]