Inside Rensselaer

Innovative Student Ideas to “Change the World”

A collapsible and reusable water bottle inspired by origami designs, live bee insulation, innovative walking and stair-climbing aids for the elderly, a pressure sensitive mat for bed-ridden patients that can aid in eliminating ulcers, and a low-cost prosthetic for below-the-elbow amputees are among the winning ideas from students in the fall 2010 Change the World Challenge at Rensselaer.

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. Additionally, patent application assistance is given to 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” — Rob Chernow

“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 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.”

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. In the fall 2010, semester, more than 100 undergraduate and graduate Rensselaer students submitted 55 proposals to the contest. The winning ideas for the fall competition cover a range of innovative devices and technologies. Thirty students — representing 10 entries — were named winners of the competition and will receive funding to pursue their ideas further.

The 10 winning ideas include: H2Go Water Bottle, L.I.M.B Intelligent Prosthetic Hand, WindMEC Energy System, Stair Assist, On the Go Scooter, Bee Warm Insulation, Pressure Sensing Mats, PRESERV Refrigerator Storage Unit, Grounded Feet Shoe System, and Free Form Paper Recycling.

In early June, an additional $5,000 grand prize will be awarded to the team entry considered to be the “best of the best” from all of the winning entries from the fall 2010 and spring 2011 competitions, according to Chernow.

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.

To learn more about the winning teams, read the full release at http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2812.

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 1, January 21, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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