Inside Rensselaer
* Class of ’51 Scholarship Fund Rewards Student Teams  for Entrepreneurial Ideas
The MineWerks team (l-r): Chris Scully, Brian Zaik, Dane Kouttron, and Kevin Menear.
Class of ’51 Scholarship Fund Rewards Student Teams  for Entrepreneurial Ideas
Ideas for a patent-pending detection system and a light therapy technology have both received funding by the Rensselaer Class of ’51 Entrepreneurship Fund, established to help transform student ideas into successful ventures.

One of Rensselaer’s most active, generous, and supportive alumni groups, the Class of ’51 sponsors the annual competition to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to pursue early development of entrepreneurial ideas.

Grants of up to $5,000 are awarded each year to winning individuals or teams. This year, a $3,000 honorable mention prize also was awarded.

Rensselaer undergraduate students Alessandro Gerbini, Dane Kouttron, Kevin Menear, Chris Scully, and Brian Zaik were awarded $5,000 for their invention, MineWerks.

MineWerks is developing a groundbreaking, patent-pending detection system that can sense the presence of many dangerous compounds from a distance. It is being designed to help solve the global problem associated with unexploded ordnances such as land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

A graduate student team from the Lighting Research Center including Dan Wang, Xin Zhang, and Rosa Capó was awarded a $3,000 honorable mention prize for its idea, which proposes a light therapy technology to help people overcome the effects of jet lag when traveling across several time zones. The concept is a kit that includes software, microprocessor, and dark glasses.

“In addition to receiving funding, the competition winners also receive help from the Entrepreneur Support Committee, which includes faculty, alumni, and resources from Rensselaer’s Office of Entrepreneurship, the Incubator Program, Office of Technology Commercialization, and the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship,” said Rob Chernow, vice provost for entrepreneurship at Rensselaer and head of the Class of ’51 Scholarship Fund competition. “Our campus resources are invaluable and can provide experienced, knowledgeable guidance and counsel to foster the further development of MineWerks from the idea and development phases to the marketplace.”

To qualify for the Class of ’51 Entrepreneurship Fund, entrants must articulate a clear statement of the opportunity and resulting ideas with supporting data; describe how their solution addresses a problem; provide enough details to demonstrate that the solution is feasible and sustainable; and include diagrams and sketches to illustrate their points.

The annual competition is judged by Chernow, with assistance from a committee of faculty members, staff, researchers, and alumni.

This is one of three endowed funds established in 2000 by the Class of ’51 in honor of their 50th Reunion. The other funds support students who transfer into Rensselaer in their junior year, and faculty for outstanding teaching and for developing new educational technologies.

“This commitment on the part of the Class of ’51 is an outstanding example of the collective foresight of a dedicated group of alumni, and Rensselaer is grateful for their generosity toward future generations of students and faculty,” Chernow said.

For more information regarding competition details and to view video interviews with prior winners, go to:

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 3, Number 4, April 10, 2009
©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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