Inside Rensselaer
“Change the World” Challenge Winners Announced

A credit card water filter, a novel approach to treating anorexia, affordable lighting for the rural poor, and a stress prevention smartphone app for college students are among the winning ideas in the Spring 2011 Change the World Challenge.

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.

“It is clear that there is no limit to the things our students can come up with.
I look forward to watching them as they truly change the world.”
—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. 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.

In the spring 2011 semester, undergraduate and graduate students from all five Rensselaer schools submitted proposals to the contest. Sixteen students — representing nine 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 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 winning entries for the spring competition cover a range of innovative devices and technologies. Additional ideas include: a next-generation white cane with voice and search communication and other technologies; a collegiate stress visualization and prevention app; a geo-thermally cooled dew collector; an instant English-to-Braille translator that fits at the tip of one’s finger; a dual layer bottle/canteen with built-in water filtration and solar power; and an environmentally friendly cigarette disposal made from recycled materials.

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, 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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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 8, April 29, 2011
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