University of Pittsburgh
August 25, 2011

Electric Cycle Invention Gets Pitt Student Noticed by Entrepreneur Magazine

Mechanical engineering senior Micah Toll is one of five finalists in magazine’s 'College Entrepreneur of the Year' contest, with online voting continuing through Sept. 12
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PITTSBURGH—With a dream of revolutionizing personal urban transportation, a University of Pittsburgh undergraduate is in the running to be Entrepreneur Magazine's “College Entrepreneur of the Year.” Micah Toll, a senior mechanical engineering major in the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is one of five finalists in the contest. The winner will be the focus of a feature article in the magazine's January issue.

The mission of Toll’s company, Pulse Motors, is to build completely electric two-wheeled Personal Electronic Vehicles. The vehicles resemble bicycles but do not require pedaling.

“Our vehicles are designed to be the ideal solution for millions of commuters driving in and around urban centers,” says Toll in his contest video entry on the Entrepreneur Magazine Web site. “Instead of a single person commuting in a two-ton gas-guzzler, our vehicles allow drivers to zip effortlessly along using minimal energy and no fossil fuels while producing absolutely zero tailpipe emissions.”

A panel of judges selected the five finalists from among thousands of entries across the country. The selection of the ultimate winner of the College Entrepreneur of the Year now comes down to two components: the online voting process and voting by the panel of judges. The online voting points and panel voting points will be combined for each of the five finalists, and the winner will be the student who receives the highest total.  

Toll is no stranger to competition. Among his numerous awards is a first place in Pitt’s 2009 Randall Family Big Idea Competition for a construction beam he invented for quick construction in such locations as refugee camps, disaster areas, and war zones. Big Ideas is funded by University Trustee Bob Randall’s family and coordinated by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE) in Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

“In fact, it was his Randall Family Big Idea win that prompted us here at IEE to connect Micah with the opportunity at Entrepreneur Magazine,” says Michael Lehman, IEE director of marketing and student entrepreneurship.

Also in 2009, Toll was part of a winning team to receive the $5,000 first-place prize in the Energy Efficient Building Technologies Challenge hosted by Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Toll’s team constructed a lightweight plastic wind turbine that consists of a plastic rotor and tower that homeowners could install themselves.

In 2010, Toll won another first-place Big Idea award for developing a kit to test for toxins in imported Chinese drywall.

Voting in the College Entrepreneur of the Year contest is open until Sept. 12 at www.entrepreneur.com/e2011/vote/college.

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Computer rendering of a 2011 PEVO, to be officially debuted by Pulse Motors Sunday, Aug. 28, at Pitt's Student Activities Fair. (Courtesy of Pulse Motors)