Inside Rensselaer
Students Recognized for Innovative Ideas To “Change the World”
A floor-mounted cane that may help the elderly avoid falls, an inexpensive portable device that can separate gold and silt without the use of chemicals, an electronic prescription pad, and a technique to manufacture environmentally safe plush animals on a large scale are among the winning ideas in the fall 2009 Change the World Challenge contest at Rensselaer that cover a range of innovative devices and technologies.

“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.

Additional winning examples include: a specially designed, thinner bicycle helmet with state-of-the-art built-in safeguards to encourage more cyclists to wear helmets; an inexpensive, convenient wrist band that accurately measures the extent of exercising along a number of key variables while a person is involved in physical activity; a simple hand-held device that may help individuals to overcome language barriers; and a multilayered polymer sticker will indicate when a product has expired.

The Change the World Challenge was created in 2005 by Rensselaer alumnus and entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan ’85. Created to support entrepreneurship education and stimulate ideas to improve the human condition, the annual competition awards $1,000 cash prizes to students for developing innovative ideas and inventions with the potential to make the world a better place. Additionally, substantial financial support and patent application assistance is given to winning student proposals considered to be the “best of the best,” according to Rob Chernow, vice provost for entrepreneurship.

“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,” Chernow said. Many winners have taken full advantage of the program’s patent support to further develop their ideas and technologies.

Each semester, students select a topic from a list of challenges with the potential to improve human life, and offer an innovative and sustainable solution to that challenge. Examples of challenges include improving safety and security, and addressing health issues. Submissions are judged on both novelty and feasibility, and up to 10 entries each semester are selected to receive awards.

This semester, 158 undergraduate and graduate students from Rensselaer’s five schools submitted 51 proposals to the contest. Twenty-five students — representing nine teams — were named winners of the competition, and will receive funding to pursue provisional patents in addition to the cash prize.

To read more, go to http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2667.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 1, January 22, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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