Collegiate Inventors Competition Showcases Undergraduate and Graduate Inventors


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CIC Finalists at Awards Ceremony on Nov 17
Collegiate Inventors Competition Finalists at Awards Ceremony on November 17, 2015

Earlier this week, college students from across the country gathered outside Washington, D.C., where they were recognized for their work developing cutting-edge inventions. And to further support their efforts, they all had the chance to interact one on one with established inventors who are all inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Nearly 30 young inventors—all finalists in the 2015 Collegiate Inventors Competition (CIC)—convened at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Virginia on November 16 and 17. The CIC awards recognize the nation’s most innovative undergraduate and graduate students and their inventive ideas and projects.

The inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, who have invented many tools, processes, or devices that are now commonplace in our lives, such as the digital camera, microprocessor, and Post-it® Notes, served as judges for the competition and provided advice and inspiration for the students.

In front of the judging panel on November 16, the teams explained and defended their inventions. The next day began with the finalists meeting with patent examiners, patent attorneys, and trademark examiners, gaining knowledge that they’ll be able to take home to further their work and careers. The finalists then showcased their inventions at a public expo, providing them with a professional backdrop to answer questions and discuss their inventions with USPTO senior officials, corporate sponsors, and members of the intellectual property community and the public. Mo Rocca, Emmy winning CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and host of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, hosted the awards ceremony that concluded the CIC, stating, “These young people give me hope that the future is in good hands.”

CIC finalists’ inventions included a variety of technologies such as new inks to outsmart counterfeiters, an additive for disinfectants that improves the process of decontamination, a programmable electronic stethoscope, drop based microfluidics to combat cancer, a low cost uterine contraction monitor, and many more. Several CIC finalists have already been granted patents or provisional patents.

The winner in the undergraduate category was a team from Western Michigan University, comprised of Joseph Barness and Stephen John, for their invention of NeoVent, a dual pressure respiratory system. NeoVent is an adaptor that transforms a low tech infant respiratory device into one that provides the additional benefits of a ventilator at a much lower expense, which has wide application potential in poverty stricken areas.

“I've spent over a year of my life in countries that would be considered third world, and I have witnessed both the poverty of the people and the needs of the hospitals,” said Barness. These experiences shaped my desire to become a physician and motivated me to develop low cost medical devices targeted for under resourced regions.”

The graduate winner was David Kolesky from Harvard University for 3D bioprinting vascularized human tissue. His method of using a 3D printer to build human tissue and blood vessels could be used in a variety of methods including grafts, in vitro drug testing, and generating tumors for research. Read more about all the 2015 CIC finalists and winners.

The top undergraduate winner received $12,500 and the top graduate winner received $15,000. Second and third place winners were also recognized with cash and prizes.

"We're very proud of our Collegiate Inventors Competition partnership with the National Inventors Hall of Fame that annually showcases and celebrates the passion, dedication and teamwork of the greatest collegiate inventors," said Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. "Supporting and encouraging undergraduate and graduate students engaged in breakthrough research advances the future of United States innovation and broadens awareness of the critical role of intellectual property in the 21st century global economy."

The Collegiate Inventors Competition is one of several important programs the USPTO conducts in collaboration with the nonprofit Invent Now. Others include Camp Invention for elementary school children, Invention Project for middle school students, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

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Last updated: 2015-11-20 16:49

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