Inside Rensselaer

Fall 2011 “Change the World” Challenge Winners Announced

A system to increase intravenous therapy, a breakthrough in detecting bacteria in water, and 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 competition.

Created to support entrepreneurship education and stimulate ideas to improve the human condition, the twice-yearly competition offers 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 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 Rensselaer’s schools submitted proposals to the contest. Thirty students—representing 10 entries—were named winners of the competition and will receive funding to pursue their ideas further.

In early June, an additional $5,000 grand prize will awarded to the one entry from the fall 2011 and spring 2012 competitions 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,” said Chernow.

The Change the World Challenge was created by 2005 by entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan ’85. O’Sullivan, the 2011 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year, earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer and was a founder and the first president of software firm MapInfo Corp.

He is co-founder and managing director of Avenge Corporation.

To read a list of the winners and their projects, go to

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 19, December 9, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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