This year’s Finalists and their inventions provide a glimpse into the future of American innovation and emerging technological trends, from wearable power generation to water decontamination. Through their research, these college students have harnessed their inner inventor to make working prototypes that can positively change our world.
Each year, individuals representing a broad cross-section of technological fields serve as first-round judges, evaluating entries based on originality of the idea, process, level of student initiative, and potential value and usefulness to society. The Finalists will travel to Alexandria, Va., to present their inventions to an esteemed panel of final-round judges composed of the most influential inventors and invention experts in the nation — National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) experts.
“The USPTO is proud to host the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition — a program designed to allow undergraduate and graduate students to showcase their emerging ideas and inventions that will shape our future,” said Joseph Matal, who performs the duties of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “We look forward to meeting these young innovators at this event, and encouraging their creativity and problem-solving skills to enable them to develop meaningful solutions to real-world challenges.”
Competition Finalists will showcase their inventions and interact with thousands of USPTO patent and trademark examiners, sponsors, media and the public at the Collegiate Inventors Competition Expo. The Expo is free and open to all in the community, and will be held on Nov. 3 at 11 a.m. in the USPTO Madison Building, Lower Atrium, with the Awards Ceremony immediately following at noon.
“It is inspiring to meet the Collegiate Inventors Competition Finalists and to witness their accomplishments, idealism and motivation,” said NIHF CEO Michael Oister. “By the time the competition at the United States Patent and Trademark Office is over, they have all benefitted greatly by developing stronger go-to-market strategies, creatively solving challenges and problems, and gaining a much greater understanding of our patent, trademark and intellectual property systems.”
Established in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition is a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is sponsored by the USPTO, Arrow Electronics, Bridgestone Americas and Skild.
Follow the National Inventors Hall of Fame on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for live updates, exclusive interviews with Finalists and Winners, and additional information. All Expo attendees are encouraged to post a comment, photo or video and tag #RoadtoCIC.
AssistENT, Johns Hopkins University
Team Members: Clayton Andrews, Harrison Nguyen, Talia Kirschbaum, Pooja Nair; Advisor: Robert Allen
Easier Breathing Through the Nose: One in eight people experiences difficulty breathing through the nose. This can hinder sleep and affect aerobic endurance during exercise or daily activities. AssistENT has created a flexible yet stable device that is worn completely within the nose, and aids breathing by expanding nasal passages safely, comfortably and discreetly. This invention is intended as an alternative to current treatments such as external adhesive strips or invasive surgery.
CerebroSense, Stevens Institute of Technology
Team Members: Maria V. De Abreu Pineda, Andrew Falcone, David Ferrara; Advisor: Vikki Hazelwood
Better Brain Monitoring: During open-brain surgeries, the brain’s health is monitored by perhaps the world’s first medical device — the finger. The surgeon or anesthesiologist physically touches the exposed brain to feel for changes in size that indicate swelling, decreased blood flow or other issues requiring action. CerebroSense uses ultrasonic sensing technology to provide safe, non-contact, real-time measurements that can help reduce complications during and after surgery.
InMEDBio, University of Virginia
Team Members: Ashwinraj Karthikeyan, Paco Abiad; Advisor: Bala Mulloth
Healing Layers: The growing prevalence of diabetes around the world has brought on an increase in chronic wounds, especially on the feet. These wounds can take months to heal, and they are prone to infections and other life-threatening complications. The Phoenix-Aid is a five-layer bandage that meshes the ABCs of chronic wound care — Accelerate healing, Block pathogens and Comfort wound — into one cost-effective product that is ideal for patients in developing countries.
Oculogx, Georgia Institute of Technology
Team Members: Charu Thomas, Sarthak Srinivas; Advisor: Thad Starner
The New Warehouse Reality: The future of warehouses is mixed — mixed reality that is. Humans, not robots, are still the most capable at locating and handling items to fulfill the billions of retail orders placed each year. PickAR is a mixed-reality application used with a headset that combines barcode scanning for immediate inventory control with navigation that projects the optimal path through the warehouse to each item. It can increase work efficiency, and make the work more fun too!
Stretchable Photovoltaics, University of Maryland
Team Members: Sabrina Michelle Curtis, Alexander Randolph, Gabriel Anfinrud, Haotian Wang; Advisors: Ray Phaneuf, Nathan Lazarus
Power Flex: Imagine wearing a traditional solar panel on your back. While useful for charging your smartphone, it’s neither lightweight nor particularly comfortable. Now imagine a different kind of solar cell, one the thickness of a piece of paper and woven seamlessly into your clothing. This invention is a silicon solar cell with a unique serpentine structure able to stretch by 30 percent, just like human skin, opening a new era of wearable and renewable power generation.
SwineTech, University of Iowa (Arrow Innovation Prize Winner)
Team Members: Matthew Rooda, Abraham Espinoza; Advisor: Thomas Hornbeck
Newborn Piglets are Safe by Sound: More than 116 million newborn piglets were accidentally crushed to death by their mothers on hog farms in 2016, resulting in billions of dollars lost. The SmartGuard system monitors the pitch, loudness and duration of squeals and determines whether a piglet is in distress or just squealing as piglets normally do. When a piglet is in distress, the device sends a vibration to a wearable patch on the mother, prompting her to stand and free her piglet.
The SwineTech team is the winner of the Arrow Innovation Prize, chosen by a panel of judges from Arrow Electronics. This exclusive prize advances the team to the final round of judging (all expenses paid) at the November competition, and it includes a private networking opportunity with a group of innovators from Arrow Electronics — a Fortune 118 global technology-solutions provider.
dAST, California Institute of Technology
Team Members: Nathan G. Schoepp, Travis S. Schlappi; Advisor: Rustem Ismagilov
More Effective Antibiotic Prescriptions: The unchecked use of antibiotics has threatened the efficacy of these life-saving drugs. The goal of this invention is to enable doctors to make more effective prescriptions where treatment happens: the doctor’s office. This test only requires 30 minutes to determine if an infection can be successfully treated with an antibiotic, while traditional methods require multiple days. Having this knowledge improves patient outcomes, and it enables the preservation of these drugs by avoiding overprescribing.
Elastic Biocompatible Inks, North Carolina State University
Team Member: Sangchul Roh; Advisor: Orlin Velev
The Sandcastle Solution: Unlike common plastics, silicone rubber cannot be melted and maintain its structural integrity, and therefore it cannot be used in common 3D printers. Elastic biocompatible inks, inspired by the force that holds sandcastles together, will change that. First, silicone microbeads are suspended in water. Then, a liquid silicone is added, forming capillary bridges to bind and connect the microbeads. The mixture is then printed and heated. The resulting forms are flexible, porous and biocompatible.
Engineered Probiotics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Team Member: Ning Mao; Advisor: James Collins
Building Bacteria to Fight Cholera: Ning Mao has shown that a safe bacterium found in dairy products has the serendipitous benefit of inhibiting the progression of a cholera infection. Building on this discovery, she developed an engineered version that provides early detection of cholera and helps further contain the spread of the disease. This synthetic probiotic could control outbreaks and save lives. In addition, the technology could be adapted to fight other types of bacterial infections.
NextGen Structural Rehab System, West Virginia University
Team Member: Praveen Kumar Reddy Majjigapu; Advisor: Hota GangaRao
Building New Life for Old Structures: Much of America’s infrastructure is well past its intended lifespan, and repair costs number in the trillions. Structural joints, where at least two members meet, are the most crucial to the integrity of a building or bridge. This invention is a four-part system designed to fortify existing joints, extend their service lives, and improve the safety of a structure under extreme loads efficiently and economically. Tests have shown that renewed joints can withstand 500 percent more force than unfortified joints.
Passive Anti-Frosting Surfaces, Virginia Tech
Team Members: S. Farzad Ahmadi, Grady Iliff, Saurabh Nath; Advisor: Jonathan Boreyko
Fighting Ice with Ice: Frost affects far more than just car windshields: frost growing on energy infrastructure, airplanes and naval systems is a multi-billion-dollar problem every year. This team created an anti-frosting surface by patterning ice stripes onto an array of micro-grooves. The low pressure of ice enables each ice stripe to siphon all nearby moisture from the air, to keep the intermediate surface area completely dry. The anti-frosting surface technology does not require any energy or chemicals.
TX20, Texas State University
Team Members: Archana Gujjari, Conor Brantley, Michael Opoku, Thi Nguyen; Advisor: Gary Beall
The Next Generation in Water Decontamination: Every barrel of oil produced from drilling operations creates at least seven barrels of wastewater. Cleaning this water for safe return to the environment costs the industry about $18 billion per year. The TX2O technology combines a water-treatment absorbent material to remove residual oil with a process to clean the wastewater and regenerate the absorbent by recovering the oil. This allows the absorbent to be reused — creating an Earth-friendly, cost-efficient solution to this challenge in oil production.
About the Collegiate Inventors Competition
The Collegiate Inventors Competition encourages and drives innovation and entrepreneurship at the collegiate level. A program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, this Competition recognizes and rewards the research, innovations and discoveries by college students and their advisors for projects leading to inventions that have the potential of receiving patent protection. Introduced in 1990, the Competition has awarded more than $1 million to students for their innovative work and scientific achievement through the help of its sponsors. For more information, visit invent.org/challenge.
SOURCE National Inventors Hall of Fame
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