The Next Great Idea! Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Announces Winners of Fall 2015 Change the World Challenge Student Innovation Competition


Contact: Media Relations

December 3, 2015

The Next Great Idea! Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Announces Winners of Fall 2015 Change the World Challenge Student Innovation Competition

Winners of Top Prizes Include a Pressure Ulcer Prevention Cover, Technology for the Visually Impaired, Social Media Website for STEM College Students, and Energy-Creating Mat for High-Trafficked Areas

Troy, N.Y. — A pressure ulcer prevention cover, technology to assist the visually impaired, a social media website for connecting STEM college students, and an energy-creating mat for high-traffic areas are among the 10 winning ideas from the entries in the fall 2015 Change the World Challenge at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The Change the World Challenge competition is a twice-yearly event 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.

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.

“Entrepreneurship takes our students on an amazing journey of creative exploration and problem-solving, but also collaboration, learning, and innovation with students of other academic disciplines,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School of Management. “We are very grateful to Sean O’Sullivan ’85 for sponsoring this competition and demonstrating through his own extraordinary entrepreneurial work that great ideas combined with ambition can change the world we live in for the better.”

Students involved in the competition develop ideas that have the potential to improve human life through innovative and sustainable solutions. The competition is overseen by the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship in the Lally School of Management.

“This fall’s Change the World Challenge winners have worked very hard reaching out to their potential customer base and working with their mentors from our Entrepreneurs-In-Residence program,” said Jason Kuruzovich, academic director of the Severino Center. “Entrepreneurship is one of the many great hallmarks of the student experience at Rensselaer and we are excited to continue to help our students develop their nascent ideas into real companies.”  

The winning ideas for the fall 2015 competition cover a range of innovative devices, processes, and technologies:

Pressure Ulcer Prevention Cover is for use with long-term care patients in the home and in hospitals. It helps to reduce the likelihood of a person developing a pressure ulcer due to certain medical conditions. Created by Jason Bernotsky ’15, Design, Innovation, and Society/Mechanical Engineering.

Tactile Vision is a wearable technology providing environmental feedback to the visually impaired allowing them to perceive the world around them as others do. The product will allow them to distinguish what is around them without the use of a cane or primitive sonar technology. Created by William Lawler ’17, Electrical Engineering, and Christopher Dannhauser ’17, Electrical Engineering/Computer and Systems Engineering.

STEM Social Media is a social media website for college students in STEM schools. The website will have a primary purpose of integrating, informing, and stimulating the STEM community. Additionally, students can connect with others who are doing similar research in different schools. Created by William Francis ’18, Mathematics and Management; Shaeed McLeod ’18, Industrial and Management Engineering; Chidiadi Onyeukwu ’18, Electrical Engineering; and Khalil Fleming ’19, Computer Science.

VR Tech is smart eyewear that projects a virtual reality motion-picture to the user while connecting wirelessly to a smart phone or computer. It could be used for exercise or watching movies, and is designed to be more comfortable than other products currently on the market. Created by Anurag Kaushik ’17, M.S. in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship; Ian He ’16, MBA/M.S. in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship; and Anand Prakash ’16, M.S. in Management.

Power Walk is a mat that uses the piezoelectric property of certain crystals to convert energy people expend while walking into electricity. It can be used in high foot-traffic areas to generate electricity. Created by Jason Luo ’18, Electrical Engineering/Mechanical Engineering.

Mobile Teaching Platform leverages the power of mobile communication to create a platform that can encourage social good in millennials. The product addresses literacy as well as other educational goals. Created by Shankar Rao ’15, Computer and Systems Engineering, and James Cazzoli ’16, Design, Innovation, and Society.

Bottle Technologies is a geographical context-driven social media content creation and delivery mobile platform which essentially allows users to “bottle” their experiences and leave them behind in that location for others to find. Created by Saurabh Dargar ’15, Biomedical Engineering; Jaikrishen Wadhwani ’15, Information Technology and Web Science; and Arun Nemani ’16, Biomedical Engineering.

Agora Technologies recognized the lack of entrepreneurial resources for the high school-aged student and implemented a program to mentor and coach high school teams through current business model generation tools being used in colleges around the world. Created by Richard Lin ’18, Computer Science/Business Management; Sidharth Modha ’16, Biomedical Engineering; Christina Ford; and Herman Li.

A “Whey” Better Beer is a beverage that combines a traditional light beer with eight grams of whey protein to provide a product for consumers who are interested in managing their protein intake. Created by Greg Merrill ’17, Chemical Engineering; James Male ’17, Materials Science and Engineering; and Christopher Lore ’17, Geology.

Guide assists visually impaired individuals with everyday tasks to increase safety and independence. There will be a line of products designed mainly for use in the kitchen to serve this population. Created by Jordan Hutensky ’18, Design Innovation and Society, and Morgan Schweitzer ’16, Mechanical Engineering.

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 successful companies and organizations. 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


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