Winners of Top Prizes Include Ideas To Alleviate Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms, Increase Motorcycle Safety, Create a New Publishing Platform, and Combat Dry Mouth Disease
April 9, 2014
A neutralizing arm sleeve for Parkinson’s patients, a motorcycle jacket with LEDs that creates a third brake light, a new storytelling platform in publishing, and a retainer that combats dry mouth disease are among the 10 winning ideas from the 46 entries in the spring 2014 Change the World Challenge at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The Change the World Challenge competition is a twice-yearly event for Rensselaer students created to support entrepreneurship education and inspire Rensselaer students to consider ways to improve the human condition. Each semester a $10,000 prize is 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.
The technology for a low-cost, high-performance, all-carbon lithium ion “super battery” won the grand prize and is considered to be the “best of the best” from the fall 2013 and spring 2014 entries. The “best of the best” award was created to accelerate the progress of a fall or spring student entry that demonstrated a strong commitment and clear momentum in pursuing the commercialization of its idea.
Established in 2005 by Rensselaer alumnus and entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan ’85, the Change the World Challenge competition has helped to validate new student ideas.
“There are many ways to change the world,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School of Management.. “Our winners are inventing new products that have the happy combination of helping others while also offering the possibility of income to the inventor. We are very grateful to Sean O’Sullivan ’85 for sponsoring this competition. Sean himself is a great role model as someone who has changed the world through commercial success as well as and through humanitarian work as well.”
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. Originally sponsored by the Office of Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer, the competition is now overseen by the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, in the Lally School of Management.
“Entrepreneurs change the world, reshaping what is possible and impossible,” said Jason Kuruzovich, academic director of the Severino Center. “This group stands at the edge of what for many will be a long and difficult journey to bring their innovations to market. Some will succeed, but many will fail. We think either way they are great. In the Change the World Challenge, we celebrate this willingness to try. More than anything else, it is this willingness to try—even if you know you might fail—to change the world that keeps us moving forward.”
The winning ideas for the spring 2014 competition cover a range of innovative devices, processes, and technologies.
The 10 winning ideas:
Eco-Valve is a showerhead attachment that reduces the average household’s indoor water consumption by allowing users to automatically adjust their water pressure hands-free. Created by Devon Bernard ’16, Computer Systems Engineering and Computer Science.
Gapelia is a collaborative storytelling platform seeking to revive the world of publishing. Created by Daniel Campos ’15, Computer Science, and Zoe Konrad ’15, Computer Science and Industrial Management Engineering.
Resumazing is an automated Web service that uses machine learning to bundle resume building and headhunting into one powerful and synergistic platform. Created by Kevin Lyman ’14, Computer Systems Engineering; Samuel Ellis ’14, Mechanical Engineering; Shankar Rao ’15, Computer and Systems Engineering; Daniel Schlegel ’14, Computer and Systems Engineering; and Jonathan Silvestri ’15, Mechanical Engineering.
Tech Arena: The Magna Printer is a printer that reuses ink by de-inking the paper using iron oxide nanoparticles, rendering the paper reusable as well. Created by Vincent Arena ’17, Mechanical Engineering.
The Human Brake Light is a motorcycle jacket with embedded rear-facing LEDs that communicate with a transmitter and illuminate when the rider is braking, increasing visibility of the rider and creating a “third brake light” effect. Created by Taylor Scicchitano ’14, Business Management.
Nimbl is a tremor-dampening arm sleeve for Parkinson’s disease patients to help control the involuntary movements by counter stimulating, therefore neutralizing the errant muscle signal. Created by Derek Meer ’16, Electrical Engineering/Computer Systems Engineering; Cecelia Muller ’16, Mechanical Engineering; Alexandra Hudak ’16, Mechanical Engineering; Mark Westerhoff ’15, Computer and Systems Engineering; Adam Klich ’15, Mechanical Engineering; and Jacob Weber ’16, Mechanical Engineering.
Mouth Operations Monitoring System (MOMS) is combating Xerostomia (dry mouth disease) with a retainer that monitors the condition of your oral health while stimulating saliva for self-cleaning. Created by Melissa Mohner ’14, Mechanical Engineering.
VibraSole is a shoe insole that makes use of low vibrations to allow elderly users the ability to monitor their gait and balance, therefore regaining their ability to stay balanced while walking and climbing stairs. Created by Niroshan Amarasiriwardena ’14, Mechanical Engineering.
Rollio is a business application that aggregates all of your business trip planning instruments (email, calendar, Salesforce/other Customer relationship management (CRM) models, and simple phone calls) into one visual and easy-to-use tool as well as prioritizing task lists and providing lead generation. Created by Jake Soffer ’17, Industrial Management Engineering and Business Management; Devon Bernard ’16, Computer Systems Engineering and Computer Science; and Stephen Silber ’14, Computer Systems Engineering and Computer Science.
Sia is a cloud storage solution that uses a giant peer-to-peer network to host data with increased security and no bandwidth caps or download limits. Created by David Vorick ’14, Computer Science, and Luke Champine ’15, Computer and Systems Engineering.
The “best of the best” $5,000 grand prize winning idea:
EnerMat-Tech developed novel electrodes and processes that enable the creation of a “super battery” (a low-cost, high-performance, all-carbon lithium ion 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; and Eklavya Singh ’15 Mechanical Engineering doctoral candidate.
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 about the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, visit
For more information about the Lally School of Management, visit http://lallyschool.rpi.edu/.