Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Announces Winners of the “Change the World Challenge” Student Innovation Competition

Winners of $10,000 Prize Include New Designs for Checking Glucose Levels, Manufacturing Batteries for Electric Vehicles, and Making Trucks More Aerodynamic

December 13, 2013


A new way for diabetics to test for glucose levels, a concussion-reducing baseball helmet, a new process for creating batteries for electric vehicles, and a device that makes trucks more aerodynamic are among the 10 winning ideas from 113 entries in the Fall 2013 Change the World Challenge at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Created to support entrepreneurship education and inspire Rensselaer students to consider ways to improve the human condition, the twice-yearly competition awards a $10,000 prize that will be shared by the winning students and student teams who develop innovative ideas and inventions. Patent application assistance is also given to the winning student proposals when applicable.

Established in 2005 by Rensselaer alumnus and entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan ’85, and originally sponsored by the Office of Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer, the Change the World Challenge competition has helped to validate new student ideas. Since its inception, students involved in the competition have developed ideas with the potential to improve human life, and that offer an innovative and sustainable solution. Examples of past and current challenges include improving safety and security, and addressing energy, water, health, and environmental or transportation issues. The competition is now overseen by the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, in the Lally School of Management.

“We are especially proud of this competition because it encourages Rensselaer students to think in an entrepreneurial way about starting a firm that is explicitly designed to contribute to positive social change,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School. “The mission of the Severino Center is to expose every Rensselaer student to the practices and principles of entrepreneurship, and to extend the leadership and national prominence of Rensselaer in technological entrepreneurship. We are grateful to Sean O’Sullivan for his leadership in developing the award and ensuring that this competition is a regular feature of life at Rensselaer.”

“The ultimate goal of the competition is to help us to identify and encourage some of the most innovative and driven students on the Rensselaer campus,” said Jason Kuruzovich, academic director of the Severino Center. “We’re excited that the Severino Center will be involved with continuing efforts to develop students’ ideas. We have seen that many Rensselaer graduates have had a positive impact on the world through their entrepreneurial efforts that are truly changing the world. This competition keeps that legacy moving forward.”

The Severino Center helps to foster new generations of budding and successful entrepreneurs through outreach programs, education, and support systems.

“The potentially life-changing entries and technologies represent a starting point in what we hope will be an exciting entrepreneurial pathway for many of the winning teams,” Kuruzovich added. “Over the years, we have seen many students continue to develop their ideas and move on to win other national and international competitions. Now that the teams have proven their ability to describe an idea that can change the world, the Severino Center will be working with the students and students teams to connect them to mentorship opportunities and resources that can help to make the idea a reality.”

The winning ideas for the Fall 2013 competition cover a range of innovative devices, processes, and technologies. The 10 winning ideas are:

Logikits is an easy-to-learn snap-fit tile toy that allows elementary school children to build rudimentary computers while building confidence and experience in coding. The mission is to provide a gateway into the fields of engineering. Created by Kevin Lyman ’14, Computer Systems Engineering; Dan Schlegel ’14, Computer Systems Engineering; Jonathan Silvestri ’15, Mechanical Engineering; Samuel Ellis ’14, Mechanical Engineering; and Andrew Wright ’13, Computer Science.

Active Flow Control Device for Increasing Ground Vehicle’s Fuel Efficiency
The Active Flow device will serve to decrease the fuel consumption on tractor trailer systems. Team members are working to create modular active flow control (AFC) devices that “bend the air,” forcing it to flow in very precise locations, in order to obtain the aerodynamic performance of interest. Developed by Daniele Gallardo ’14, Aerospace Engineering doctoral candidate; David Menicovich ’13, Architecture.

GEL-LOCK: Firearm Locking Mechanism           
Gel-Lock is a safety locking mechanism enabling firearm owners to keep their guns loaded and accessible but safe from accidental discharge. Created by Timothy Oh ’17, Mechanical Engineering and Design, Innovation, and Society.

CRASH - Concussion Reducing Airbag Supplemented Helmet
CRASH is a baseball helmet equipped with an ultrasonic sensor and an active airbag system that calculates when a projectile is moving toward the helmet above a certain speed. The system activates before the object hits the helmet to reduce the risk of concussion. Created by Ana Da Silva ’14, Electrical Engineering; Mike Croke ’16, Mechanical Engineering; Kevin Jones ’14, Biomedical Engineering; Jichuan Hu ’16, Mechanical Engineering; Maeve Conway ’17, Mechanical Engineering; Marcus Lewis ’16, Mechanical Engineering, and Sophia Maurine Benson ’16, Nuclear Engineering.

Red Flag System
The Red Flag System is a precautionary software program that will monitor a child’s use of words often associated with symptoms of mental illness, and then work to send a notification email to the parents. Developed by Deborah Lark ’17, Nuclear Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Changing How We See Our Blood Sugar           
Changing How We See Blood Sugar offers a new way for diabetics to test for glucose levels in their tears by means of a change of color in a contact lens. Created by Krista Glanville ’14, Architecture.           

Weepri is a 3-D printing system with educational lessons that empowers young inventors and tinkerers to conceive their own solutions and gadgets, while learning how they are incorporated with complicated engineering systems and real-world projects. Developed by Adam Ryason ’14, Mechanical Engineering.

Stress Monitoring for Better Parenting
The Kaelig (which means “loving” in Danish) Stress Monitor helps parents build a more emotional relationship with their baby by understanding the infant’s stress levels through monitoring, notification, and education. Created by Aaron Squier ’13, Mechanical Engineering and Design, Innovation, and Society.

Enhanced Energy Efficiency Using Thermal Management in Electronic Devices
A tremendous amount of energy used for lighting ends up dissipating as heat. Enhanced Energy Efficiency is a unique device that offers an innovative design for thermal management in electronic devices, potentially making lighting devices more efficient. Developed by Hafez Raeisi Fard ’13, Mechanical Engineering doctoral candidate.

Low-Cost, High-Performance All-Carbon Lithium Ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles
Members of the Low-Cost, High-Performance, All-Carbon Lithium Ion Batteries team have developed novel electrodes and processes that enable the creation of a “super battery” with improved cost, energy, and power densities when compared with existing battery technologies. The battery potentially has tremendous applications for electric vehicles. Created by Rahul Mukherjee ’15, Mechanical Engineering doctoral candidate; Eklavya Singh ’15 Mechanical Engineering doctoral candidate.

In early June, an additional $5,000 grand prize will be awarded to the team considered to be the “best of the best” from all of the winning entries from the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 competitions.

About the “Change the World Challenge” Student Innovation Competition
The Change the World Challenge was created by Rensselaer alumnus, serial entrepreneur inventor, filmmaker, and venture capitalist Sean O’Sullivan ’85, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer. O’Sullivan, who also serves as managing director of SOSventures International, an investment management operation, is the founder of JumpStart International, NetCentric, and was a founder and first president of software firm MapInfo, now known as PitneyBowes MapInfo. O’Sullivan has started a number of other companies and organizations and is currently co-founder and managing director of Avego Corporation. He was selected as the 2011 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year.

For more information regarding student entrepreneurship at Rensselaer, visit the Severino Center:

Press Contact Jessica Otitigbe
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