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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Think Big: Ten Rensselaer Polytechnic Students Recognized for Innovative Ideas to "Change the World"

December 5, 2011

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 Polytechnic Institute.

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 better place.

“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 Tantisujjatham ‘14.
  • 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.
  • 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 students.

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, and NetCentric.

Contact: Jessica Otitigbe
Phone: (518) 276-6050