Think Big: Rensselaer Polytechnic Students Recognized for Innovative Ideas to “Change the World”


Media Relations

December 12, 2012

Think Big: Rensselaer Polytechnic Students Recognized for Innovative Ideas to “Change the World”

Annual Rensselaer Office of Entrepreneurship Competition Highlights Student Innovation and Creativity and Draws Technology, Social, Health, and Business Ideas From Across Campus

An adaptive seismic device for earthquake protection, a novel approach to developing a self-testing blood donation storage bag, a vehicle collision prevention system, a professional networking and matchmaking website to connect entrepreneurs, and a telemarketing blocker, are among the winning ideas in the Fall 2012 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 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.

“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. It is clear that there is no limit to the things our students can come up with. I congratulate this group of competition winners for their exciting and inspiring ideas, and I look forward to watching them as they truly change the world.”

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 past and current challenges include improving safety and security and addressing energy, water, or health issues.

Chernow noted that a record number of entries were submitted for the Fall 2012 competition. “The large volume of submissions for this fall competition was like judging two normal semester events, not one,” Chernow said. The Change the World Challenge competition has helped to validate student ideas. Over the years, we have seen many students continue to develop their ideas and move on to win other national and international competitions.”

 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 2012 and spring 2013 competitions.

The winning ideas for the Fall 2012 competition cover a range of innovative devices, processes, and technologies. “As always, the entries represent great ideas,” Chernow said. “The judges were challenged and very impressed with the high quality of all of the entries. The winners typically reflect ideas that the students have been working on for some time, and they have met all met all of the Challenge criteria, by developing well-articulated and visually interesting proposals.”

The ten winning ideas include:

Rotational Based Mechanical Adaptive Earthquake Protectors is working to develop seismic devices that are adaptive and can change their properties based on responses of structures without the need for electricity or external power. Created by graduate student Navid Attary, ’13

Self-Testing Blood Bag is a blood donation storage bag that integrates test processing at a fraction of the current costs and time through a series of embedded chemical tests that react in contact with the donor’s blood. Developed by Dominic Gelfuso ’15.

Project Connect will serve as a professional networking and matchmaking website utilizing a proprietary database and specialized algorithm to help identify, qualify complementary skills, and build project teams for entrepreneurs, students and professionals. Created by Kevin Lyman ’15, Jonathan Silvestri ’15, Andrew Wright ’14.

Automatic 3D Visualization is a software solution/app for computers and phones that enables users to virtually preview a product as it would appear within the 3-dimensional geometry of their home and improving on the online buying shopping process. Developed by Michael Fede ’13.

BiVision Collision Prevention System is working to develop a system of physical sensors, an auditory warning medium, and a logic predictor integrated into a smartphone or GPS devices. The system will alert drivers and pedestrians of potentially dangerous situations and quickly recommend the best course of avoidance. Created by Wesley Connor ’13.

KnowFlow Water Meter is a water flow powered faucet attachment with a venturi meter to calculate usage. The device will provide households with a wireless online record to monitor water used for hygiene, cooking, cleaning, laundry and more to help prevent waste. Created by Mary Savannah Dalton ’14.

Probot is a stylized toy robot with computer software. It provides young children with an interface of tasks/missions to solve by programming their own Probot, and motivates them to explore, achieve objectives and earn rewards. The device can also serve as a learning tool that can help to interest young children in technology and engineering. Developed by Kevin Lyman ’15, Jonathan Silvestri ’15, Andrew Wright ’14.

Telemarketing Blocker is working to adapt existing technology that enables cell phone users to identify and mark unsolicited calls with a one button push on their phone and across the mobile phone provider networks. After being flagged a determined number of times, the unsolicited caller would be blocked from making outgoing calls.  Created by Dave Guglielmo ’15.

Sea Spire is a modular aquatic installation designed to make a variety of small-scale, open-ocean operations such as aquaculture and research installations cheaper to build and operate. Environmentally-friendly applications include fish farms, aquatic sea life nurseries, floating recreation, capturing samples for research testing. Created by David Liu ’13.

Smart Health are two interlinked modules, a smartphone app and an RFID tag that can plug into the memory card slit of the phone. The device, allows a user, particularly those with chronic conditions, to manage day-to-day health, measures relevant medical values, monitors changes and transmits data to first responders in emergency situations. Created by Sidsel Ernstsen ’13.

The Change the World Challenge was created in 2005 by Rensselaer alumnus and entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan ’85. O’Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer, and was a founder and first president of software firm MapInfo Corp. He has started a number of other companies and organizations, including JumpStart International, an engineering humanitarian organization headquartered in Atlanta.


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