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Technology That Addresses User-Focused Design in Prosthetic Devices Selected as “Best of the Best” in Student Innovation Awards at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Extraordinary achievements in student innovation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute were recognized recently with several hallmark entrepreneurship awards.
April 13, 2016

Technology That Addresses User-Focused Design in Prosthetic Devices Selected as “Best of the Best” in Student Innovation Awards at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Winners Announced for Spring 2016 and “Best of the Best” in the Change the World Challenge; Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Award winners also announced

Extraordinary achievements in student innovation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) were recognized recently with several hallmark entrepreneurship awards—the 10 winning ideas for spring 2016 and the overall “Best of the Best” in the Change the World Challenge, and the Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Awards.

Team “Amparo” earned the honor and a $5,000 grand prize of “Best of the Best” award with their technology that addresses the user-focused design of prosthetic devices that will help amputees around the world. The Amparo socket can be quickly molded and fit to an amputee’s unique geometry and shape—allowing their prosthetic device to be adjusted at home when needed instead of at the doctor’s office, which may not always be easily accessible in developing countries. The technology was created by Matthew Dion ’17, a Rensselaer biomedical engineering student.

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 the most promising innovative ideas and inventions. The “Best of the Best” award is chosen from the fall 2015 and spring 2016 Change the World Challenge winners. This award accelerates 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 more than 150 new student ideas. The competition is overseen by the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship in the Rensselaer Lally School of Management.

“Many innovative products and services are generated each year from the emphasis Rensselaer has on having students from a variety of academic disciplines work together,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School of Management. “The Change the World Challenge is an important competition. We appreciate the generosity of Sean O’Sullivan, whose gift has made possible the transformative experiences our students have. The competition provides them a significant way to help build solutions for a variety of social and global issues.”

The exciting outcomes from the Change the World Challenge are a reflection of Rensselaer as The New Polytechnic, a new paradigm for teaching, learning, and research—a view of the technological research university as a fresh collaborative endeavor across disciplines, sectors, and global regions. Specifically, the Challenge is part of a transformative student experience at Rensselaer, an approach built upon both residential and developmental support, guidance, and co-curricular activities.

“The Change the World Challenge program gives our students another great outlet for real-world application of critical thinking and teamwork via entrepreneurship,” said Jason Kuruzovich, faculty director of the Severino Center. “Students are truly challenged during an intensive six-week program, where they harness the strong entrepreneurship ecosystem at Rensselaer and engage in extensive customer discovery, all while receiving coaching from our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence.” 

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The winning ideas for the spring 2016 Change the World Challenge ($10,000 prize shared by winning teams) are:

Amparo – This technology addresses the user-focused design of prosthetic devices that will help amputees around the world. The Amparo socket can be quickly molded and fit to an amputee’s unique geometry and shape. Created by Matthew Dion ’17, biomedical engineering.

Bloom – This innovation focuses on the convenience and versatility of a credit-card sized inhaler for asthmatics. Created by James Cazzoli ’16, mechanical engineering.

Diligent Blood Alcohol Monitor – This prototype is a wearable device that will read and monitor a person’s blood alcohol level over a course of time and take certain user-programmed actions if the user's blood alcohol level reaches certain points. Created by Matthew Germanowski ’17, electrical engineering; Steven Sperazza ’17, electrical engineering; and Sean Waclawik ’17, computer science.

Grain Rich Bluetooth Speaker – A compact and portable high-end audio Bluetooth speaker made from sustainable materials. Created by Dexter Taylor ’16, environmental engineering.

Learn Blitz – A previous winner of this competition, this team addresses sign language instruction using their effective platform focusing on spaced repetition learning (SRL), which breaks concepts down into multimedia flash cards and optimizes their order and review times based upon the forgetting model of the human brain. Created by Christopher Morrison ’17, nuclear engineering.

MOAP – This team’s discovery automates the process of designing computer algorithms. The program will take a formal definition of an algorithm problem as input, and will output pseudocode that solves the given problem. Created by Ray Parker ’16, chemical engineering; and Dwight Naylor ’16, computer science.

POPx – A subscription service for elevating a company’s culture with unique event experiences. Created by Bryan Dieudonne ’18, business management and economics; and Chris Peng ’16, computer systems engineering.

Slice – This platform has users confront the way they spend their time in an attempt to encourage them to change it, and increases their time management by bringing awareness to their overall work-life balance. Created by Rachel Mannella ’16, design, innovation, and society; and mechanical engineering. 

Tactile Vision – A previous winner of this competition, this team pivoted their market focus to the virtual reality gaming industry. Their unique actuator design provides accurate and immersive pressure feedback for players in a virtual gaming environment. Created by William Lawler ’17, electrical engineering.

Visual Call – A server-based platform that digitizes and visualizes the caller interface, taking phone calls from the traditional phone database to a more versatile, user-friendly platform. Created by Korey Prendergast ’17, computer and systems engineering.

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The Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Award was established over a decade ago to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to pursue early development of entrepreneurial ideas into successful ventures. The group is one of the most active, generous, and supportive alumni/ae groups at Rensselaer.

The Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Award winners:

First place ($2,500): Dual:Lock – An external gun retention system allowing safe and fast access to a loaded weapon through biometric sensor technology. Created by Timothy Oh ’17, mechanical engineering; and Rachel Dyment ’17, mechanical engineering.

Second place ($1,500): Bloom – This innovation focuses on the convenience and versatility of a credit-card sized inhaler for asthmatics. Created by James Cazzoli ’16, mechanical engineering.

Third place ($1,000): Autonomous UAS Target Identification – An unmanned aerial surveillance system with improved collision avoidance capabilities and thermal imaging for use by disaster response groups. Created by Jacob Keats ’16, electrical engineering; and Sage Trudeau ’17, electrical engineering. 

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For more information about the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, visit http://lallyschool.rpi.edu/severino-center.

For more information about the Lally School of Management, visit http://lallyschool.rpi.edu/.

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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.