Student Inventors Awarded Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--()--The Lemelson-MIT Program today announced its 2017 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners, capping a nationwide search for the most inventive college students. The Program awarded $115,000 in prizes to 18 undergraduate and graduate inventors, selected from a diverse and highly competitive pool of applicants from across the country.

The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, serving as a catalyst for young inventors in the fields of health care, transportation, food and agriculture, and consumer devices.

2017 Winners

The “Drive it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding technology-based inventions that can improve transportation.

  • Tomás Vega Gálvez and Corten Singer, University of California, Berkeley, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner
    Vega and Singer created WheelSense, a modular, customizable add-on system for wheelchairs that provides spatial awareness for visually impaired users to identify obstacles and ease their navigation. They hope to disrupt the expensive market for assistive technologies for the disabled community by making their technology open source.
  • Tony Tao, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $15,000 Graduate Winner
    Tao led the development of a small electric unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The UAV folds to the size of a dollar bill and can be jettisoned from a mothership at high speeds and altitudes. The UAV and its canister are designed to deploy in freefall and fly autonomously to gather data and radio it back to the mothership or to personnel on the ground. Tao’s second invention, AAM architecture, has the potential to reduce manufacturing costs and increase speed of development of new aircraft by generating parts on demand.

The “Use it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding technology-based inventions that can improve consumer devices.

  • Chandani Doshi, Grace Li, Jessica (Jialin) Shi, Chen (Bonnie) Wang, Charlene Xia and Tania Yu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner 
    Doshi, Li, Shi, Wang, Xia and Yu are developing a portable, real-time text-to-braille converter called Tactile. The device allows people who are visually impaired to take a picture of printed text, which is transcribed to braille on a refreshable display.
  • Apoorva Murarka, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $15,000 Graduate Winner
    Murarka invented an electrostatic transducer that uses a 125 nanometer thick membrane – which is approximately one thousandth the width of a human hair – to produce high-fidelity sound more efficiently. This technology can be applied to hearing aids, earphones, or other consumer electronic devices, resulting in superior sound quality and longer battery life.

The “Eat it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding technology-based inventions that can improve food and agriculture.

  • Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza, University of Iowa, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner
    Rooda and Espinoza founded SwineTech and developed SmartGuard, a real-time health analysis that reduces the incidence of piglet mortality due to “lay-on/crushing” by the mother pig by analyzing the crate’s temperature and piglets’ squeals.
  • Natasha Wright, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $15,000 Graduate Winner 
    Wright invented a solar powered desalination system for off-grid water production in communities in India and Gaza that reduces the required amount of energy and the amount of wasted water. She is working to provide affordable, safe drinking water. Wright was also part of a team that developed Smart Spout, a small, inexpensive, low energy consumption usage sensor that measures the long-term use of household water treatment and safe storage devices.

The “Cure it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding technology-based inventions that can improve health care.

  • Maria Filsinger Interrante, Zachary Rosenthal and Christian Choe, Stanford University, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner
    Filsinger Interrante, Rosenthal and Choe developed novel protein drugs to kill multi-drug resistant, gram-negative bacteria – or “superbugs.” Their engineered protein molecules offer a new strategy to combat an urgent global problem projected to kill more people than cancer by 2050.
  • Lisa Tostanoski, University of Maryland, $15,000 Graduate Winner
    Tostanoski, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Jewell lab, developed a novel method of reversing paralysis caused by multiple sclerosis-like disease in mice. Her innovation deposits microparticles in lymph nodes – the tissues that orchestrate immune responses – to control the local release of regulatory immune signals and program cells not to attack “self” tissues. This approach aims to control autoimmunity, but eliminate the broad immunosuppressive effects that plague current clinical MS therapies.
  • Katy Olesnavage, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $15,000 Graduate Winner
    Olesnavage invented a process to create high-performance, mass-producible, low cost prosthetic feet. Her process optimizes the prosthetic foot in order to best replicate typical walking.

ABOUT THE LEMELSON-MIT PROGRAM

The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.

Jerome H. Lemelson, one of the most prolific American inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering at MIT, an institution with a strong ongoing commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for K-12 STEM education. For more information, visit Lemelson.MIT.edu.

ABOUT THE LEMELSON FOUNDATION

Established in the early 1990s by Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson and based in Portland, Oregon, The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives. Inspired by the belief that invention can solve many of the biggest economic and social challenges of our time, the Foundation helps the next generation of inventors and invention-based businesses to flourish. To date the Foundation has made grants totaling over $200 million in support of its mission. For more information, visit http://lemelson.org.

Contacts

Dewey Square Group
Jennifer Manley, 339-927-2277
Jennifer.Manley@deweysquare.com

Release Summary

The Lemelson-MIT Program today announced its 2017 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners, capping a nationwide search for the most inventive college students. The Program awarded $115,000 in prizes.

Social Media Profiles

Contacts

Dewey Square Group
Jennifer Manley, 339-927-2277
Jennifer.Manley@deweysquare.com