6 Graduate and 5 Undergraduate Student Teams Will Present Novel Ideas at the Greatest Celebration of Collegiate Innovation

2016 Collegiate Inventors Competition Finalists preparing for the Expo + Awards on November 4, held at the USPTO in Alexandria, Va.

NORTH CANTON, Ohio, September 29, 2016. The Collegiate Inventors Competition, an annual competition that rewards innovations, discoveries, and research by college and university students and their faculty advisors, announced today its 2016 Finalists. This year’s Finalists and their inventions provide a glimpse into the future of American innovation and emerging technological trends, from advanced crop harvesting techniques to medical breakthroughs designed to help people in low- to middle-income countries. These college students have harnessed their inner inventor to make working prototypes that are impacting our world’s future.

Each year, individuals representing a broad cross-section of technological fields serve as first round judges, evaluating entries based on originality of the idea, process (or technology used), level of student initiative, and potential value and usefulness to society. The Finalists will travel to Alexandria, Va., to present their inventions to an esteemed panel of final round judges, comprised of the most influential inventors and invention experts in the nation – National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) experts, and AbbVie scientists.

“The USPTO is proud to host the 2016 Collegiate Inventors Competition,” said Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “Each year, these students bring innovation to the forefront, developing unique solutions to real world problems. As we continue to promote innovation, we are inspired by the young entrepreneurs who provide us with a glimpse into the future of American technological advancement.”

Competition Finalists will showcase their inventions and interact with thousands of USPTO patent and trademark examiners, sponsors, media, and the public at the Collegiate Inventors Competition Expo. The Expo is free and open to all in the community and will be held on November 4, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the USPTO Madison Building, Lower Atrium, with the Awards Ceremony immediately following at 12 p.m.

Established in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition is a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is sponsored by the USPTO and AbbVie Foundation, with additional support from Arrow Electronics.

Follow the National Inventors Hall of Fame on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for live updates, exclusive interviews with Finalists and winners, and additional information. All Expo attendees are encouraged to post a comment, photo or video and tag #RoadtoCIC.

The 2016 Graduate and Undergraduate Finalists are:


Andrew Bartynski, Niki Bayat, Jessica Golden
University of Southern California
Advisor: Mark Humayun
AesculaGel: Thermally Responsive Hydrogels for Ocular Drug Delivery
Glaucoma Stopped Without the Drops
In the United States, 120,000 people become blind every year due to glaucoma. Proper treatment can stop the progression of the disease. However, half of all patients are unable to follow the required daily application of eye drops, and correct dosing is challenging. AesculaGel is a sustained drug delivery gel that is inserted directly into a tear duct by a doctor just four times a year. This method ensures more precise dosing and helps to stop vision loss.

John Mohyi
Michigan State University
Advisor: Paul Jaques
Bladeless Drone: Ducted Counter-Vortex Radial Impeller Propulsion
A New Flight Pattern
Rotor blades have propelled our aircraft and helicopters for years. John Mohyi thinks it’s time for an update. His drone replaces blades with closed impeller vanes and captures additional thrust lost in traditional rotor blade systems. Among other applications, this patent-pending technology has the potential to power drones that are safer, quieter, and therefore well-suited to enhance the growing consumer and delivery drone industries.

Jonathan Perez de Alderete, Brendan Donoghue, Erin Keaney
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Advisor: Steven Tello
Nonspec: Adjustable Prosthetics
Building a Better Prosthetic
Freedom from a disability — that’s the power of a prosthetic. However, this freedom can be expensive as prosthetics are often specifically tailored and built for one patient at a time. Nonspec’s adjustable prosthetic system uses standard, mass-producible components that are easily customized to each wearer, and can also “grow” with a child over time. These production innovations could make life-changing prosthetics available and affordable to people in developing nations.

Aaron Blanchard, Kevin Yehl
Emory University
Advisor: Khalid Salaita
DNA-Powered Diagnostics
Rolosense is an entirely new class of DNA machine that turns chemical energy into rolling motion. This molecular vehicle carries a bead just five microns in diameter at speeds 1,000 times faster than previous motors. The speed of the bead through a sample can indicate the presence of a single gene variation or detect a variety of molecules such as lead using a smartphone application. This could make advanced testing for disease and contaminants more efficient in remote areas when it’s needed most.

Heather Hava, Daniel Zukowski
University of Colorado
Advisor: Nikolaus Correll
SmartPOT Powered by AgQ: A.I. for Agriculture
Farming for Mars
Human survival on Earth, Mars, or other planets will require food to be grown on planet. The SmartPOT Powered by AgQ is being tested and refined for Earth applications today to achieve this interplanetary goal. SPOT is a self-monitored, automated growth chamber backed by an artificial intelligence system. These work together to automatically monitor, alert, diagnose, and predict data trends – improving yields and optimizing the plant and human’s health. To broccoli and beyond.

Carl Schoellhammer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Advisor: Robert Langer
SuonoCalm: Device for the at-home rapid administration of therapeutics
Ultrasonic and Ultra-Fast Relief
Over 1.4 million people in the United States suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. Rectal delivery of medication can be an effective treatment but must be retained for hours or even overnight for greatest efficacy, something that is often impossible for patients. SuonoCalm is a device designed to deliver a wide range of medications directly into tissue using low-frequency ultrasound. Tests have shown superior drug absorption, and it takes just one minute.


Payam Pourtaheri, Ameer Shakeel
University of Virginia
Advisor: Mark Kester
Own the Harvest
Farmers need pesticides to protect growing crops. But at harvest time, pesticides are a problem. Regulations impose strict waiting periods between pesticide application and harvest, up to 66 days. AgroSpheres are engineered biological particles that degrade residual pesticides on the surface of plants, allowing crops to be safely harvested after just a few hours. This helps farmers avoid crop loss due to unforeseen weather events and at the same time saves the environment from additional pesticides.

Aonnicha Burapachaisri, Charles Pan, Aishwarya Raja, Chanond Sophonpanich
Columbia University
Advisor: Aaron Kyle
Lighting the Fight Against Infection
Central line catheters provide a direct way to deliver medicines, fluids, or nutrients to patients over an extended period of time, often weeks or months. However, these catheters also make it easier for bacteria to enter the body and are responsible for 240,000 infections every year. Cathecare uses ultraviolet light to continually and automatically sterilize the hub, the most-handled portion of the catheter and the most susceptible to bacterial growth, stopping infections in their tracks.

Jahrane Dale, Olachi Oleru, Ritish Patnaik, Stephanie Yang
Columbia University
Advisor: Katherine Reuther
The cerVIA System
Smart, Early Cancer Detection
Cervical cancer is very treatable in high-income countries that use laboratory screening tests to identify its early signs. However, the disease still devastates women in low and middle-income countries, where 90 percent of all cervical cancer deaths occur. The cerVIA system uses a camera and algorithm through a smartphone application to enhance the standard visual exam method used in developing countries. It helps to provide more accurate early diagnoses, no lab required.

Clarisse Hu, Sarah Lee, Bailey Surtees, Serena Thomas
Johns Hopkins University
Advisor: Nicholas Durr
Cancer Knocked Out Cold
Breast cancer rates are rising in low and middle-income countries, but access to treatment is not. Standard procedures such as lumpectomies or mastectomies are impractical because they require general anesthesia, are expensive, and have lengthy recovery times. With cryoablation, carbon dioxide gas freezes a probe that kills tumor cells, and insertion of this probe requires only local anesthesia, greatly reducing the cost and time of recovery. This treatment is a promising option for women in desperate need.

Mary Dwyer, Anushree Sreedhar
The Cooper Union
Advisor: Alan Wolf
SEAL Fire Extinguishing Ball
The Sure-fire Fire Extinguisher
Household fires start quickly and double in size every 60 seconds, leaving little time to find and successfully operate the common red tank-style extinguisher. SEAL is a supplemental, easy-to-use, accessible, and lightweight fire extinguishing ball designed to slow or stop all types of small fires quickly and safely. The device is small, maintenance-free, and attractive enough to keep in plain sight, saving valuable seconds in the event of a fire.

The 2016 Collegiate Inventors Competition final round judges include 10 Inductees from the National Inventors Hall of Fame: Eric R. Fossum (CMOS Active Pixel Image Sensor Camera-on-a-Chip), Marcian “Ted” Hoff (Microprocessor), Don Keck (Optical Fiber), Alois Langer (Implantable Defibrillator), Victor Lawrence (Signal Processing in Telecommunications), Radia Perlman (Robust Network Routing and Bridging), Steve Sasson (Digital Camera), Gary Sharp (Polarization-Control Technology), and Jim West (Electret Microphone). Additional expert judges include Elizabeth L. Dougherty and George Elliott representing the USPTO, and Jeffrey Y. Pan, and David Chang-Yen representing AbbVie, Inc.

About the Collegiate Inventors Competition
For 25 years, the Collegiate Inventors Competition (as part of the National Inventors Hall of Fame) has recognized and rewarded graduate and undergraduate students who are committed to research, discovery, invention, and innovation as they address the problems of today’s world. The Competition specifically recognizes and rewards the innovations, discoveries, and research by college and university students and their advisors for projects leading to inventions that may have the potential of receiving patent protection. Introduced in 1990, the Competition has awarded more than $1 million to winning students for their innovative work and scientific achievement through the help of its sponsors.

About the National Inventors Hall of Fame:
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is the premier non-profit organization in America dedicated to recognizing inventors and invention, promoting creativity, and advancing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Founded in 1973 in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, NIHF is committed to not only honoring the individuals whose inventions have made the world a better place, but also to ensure American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of coming generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and challenging collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. To date, NIHF has served over 1 MILLION children and 125,000 educators and interns, and awarded more than $1 million to winning college students for their innovative work and scientific achievement through the help of its sponsors.

Jen Belt
Marketing and Communications Manager
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Tel: 330-645-8012

Susan Lessman
Marketing and Communications Assistant
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Tel: 800-968-4332 ext. 6907