Think Big: Ten Rensselaer Polytechnic Students Recognized for Innovative Ideas to “Change the World”
Annual Rensselaer Office of Entrepreneurship
Competition Highlights Student Creativity and Draws Technology,
Social, and Business Ideas From Across Campus
A system to increase intravenous therapy, a
breakthrough in detecting bacteria in water, an innovation that
prevents disease and creates jobs and cogeneration water
purification for China are just a few of the winning ideas in
the Fall 2011 Change the World Challenge at Rensselaer
Created to support entrepreneurship education and stimulate
ideas to improve the human condition, the twice–yearly
competition shares a $10,000 cash prize pool that is shared by
the winning students and student teams who develop innovative
ideas and inventions with the potential to make the world a
“The ultimate goal of the competition is to encourage
students to further develop, patent and fully realize their
winning ideas – to evolve their ideas into life–changing
inventions and technologies,” said Rob Chernow, vice provost
for entrepreneurship at Rensselaer and chair of the
competition. Many winners have taken full advantage of the
program’s support and several have gone on to win substantial
funding in national and international competitions.
Each semester, students select a topic from a range of
challenges with the potential to improve human life and they
offer an innovative and sustainable solution to that challenge.
Examples of challenges include improving safety and security
and addressing energy, water or health issues. In the Fall 2011
semester, more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students
from all five Rensselaer schools submitted proposals to the
contest. Thirty students — representing ten entries — were
named winners of the competition and will receive funding to
pursue their ideas further.
In June 2012, an additional $5,000 grand prize will awarded
to the one entry from all the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 winning
entries and considered to be the “best of the best” for further
development, according to Chernow.
The winning ideas for the Fall 2011 competition cover a
range of innovative devices and technologies. “As always, the
judges were challenged and very impressed with the high quality
of all of the entries. There were many interesting ideas with
potential for success and those selected for prizes met all of
the Challenge criteria, were typically more developed and
provided well-articulated and visually interesting
descriptions,” Chernow said.
The ten winning ideas include:
- IV-SAFE: LED Technology is a supplement to current
intravenous (IV) therapy that assures correct dosage delivery
and helps prevent potentially dangerous bacterial infections
in IV lines. Created by Colleen Costello ’12.
- Dripdrop Bacteria Detector is a software-driven
technology module enabling cost-effective and detailed
measurement of water contamination at a rate 25,000 times
faster through real-time cell counts. Developed by
James Davis’13 and Nathan Pankowski ’13.
- Cogeneration Water Purification in China is a combination
self-sustaining hydroelectric power and water filtration
system designed to produce renewable energy by utilizing
contaminated river water and converting it to purified water.
The device will serve to address energy and water shortages
in many areas of China. Created by Dave Guglielmo ’15.
- Simple Steps Protective Footwear will serve as a new,
low-cost shoe design with an antimicrobial coating to keep
bacteria away from the foot in an area infested with serious
foot diseases. The product business plan includes
manufacturing in the affected Cameroon, Africa, locale in
order to create jobs and keep the flow of capital within the
community. Developed by Jarrett Regier ‘14, Samantha Riccio
‘14, Paige Townsend ‘14, Peter Finigan‘14, Julia Wright ‘14,
Joe Bernstein ‘14, Alvey Harrison ’13, and Nicholas
- U-Health Diagnostic App is a smart phone application to
evaluate risk levels, identify symptoms, and provide warnings
of an impending stroke for people at risk who are often
unaware or may brush off the signs. Developed by
Christina Ciamarra ’14 and Faith Breen-Franklin ’15.
- CollaborativeThinkers.com will serve as a website focused
on bringing people together to solve problems — large and
small — through an interactive structure that breaks down
solutions into smaller components, and allows for continuous
discussion and refinement of the solutions. Developed by
Michael Fede ’13.
- PWF – Portable Water Filtration System is a
self-contained trailer/pump/container system. The device uses
the excess mechanical energy of a wheel’s rotation to power a
pump that transports and filters up to six gallons of water
from distant sources in rural and developing countries.
Created by Nathaniel MacDonald ’13, Alex Roumanidakis ’13,
Rosemarie Mastropolo ’13, Philip Maas ’13, Brandon George
’14, and Bryan Zee ’14.
- Microbial Fuel Cell is a revolutionary wastewater
treatment plant retrofit process that operates
continuously with minimal energy input to
produce water clean enough to release intro the environment
while reducing the plant’s dependence on the national
electrical grid. Created by Derek Belanger ’13, Will Callahan
’14, Keith Davis ’13, Alex Fadeev ’13, Chris Heinbokel ’14,
Kihwan Kim ’14, and Kate Pelletier ’14.
- eMedInfo Records Keeping is a medical application
software and interface that captures and stores patient
information. The device will provide doctors with a decision
support system consisting of a TV graphical interface with
voice recording and recognition along with video reference
materials to facilitate doctor-patient communication.
Developed by Cathy Wheelock ’13.
- Shaped Luminescent Solar Concentrator is a unique,
cost-reducing device using a wedge-shaped sheet or recyclable
Plexiglas that will serves as a simple and more effective way
to guide and concentrate light onto small strips of
photovoltaic cells. The device produces more electricity and
uses less than 1/10th of the photovoltaic cells of
traditional panels. Developed by Michael Hughes ’14.
The Change the World Challenge was created in 2005 by
Rensselaer alumnus and entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan ’85.
O’Sullivan is co-founder and managing director of Avego
Corporation, and was recently selected as the 2011 William F.
Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year. Established in
1990, the William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the
Year Award brings the world of entrepreneurship into Rensselaer
classrooms by recognizing successful entrepreneurs and role
models who share their wisdom and experiences with
O’Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical
engineering from Rensselaer. He also serves as managing
director of SOSventures International, an investment management
operation, is the founder of MapInfo, JumpStart International,
Contact: Jessica Otitigbe
Phone: (518) 276-6050