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Behind the NIHF Scenes

Introducing Our 2020 CIC Undergraduate Winners

For three decades, the Collegiate Inventors Competition® (CIC) has brought together top student inventors from across the country to showcase their unique inventions to Judges including National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductees and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) officials. This year’s competition, which took place Oct. 28 and 29, was held virtually for the first time, to ensure the health and safety of all our Finalists and Judges. Though the format was different this year, the competition was just as exciting.


Announcing Our 2020 CIC Undergraduate Winner

We would like to congratulate our 2020 Undergraduate First-Place Winner, team Universally Friendly Obturator (UFO) from Rice University: Elisa Arango, Susannah Dittmar, Lauren Payne and Sanika Rane.

Earning the team $10,000 and a mentorship prize that includes a one-on-one conversation with a NIHF Inductee that will allow them to ask questions about inventing and bringing a product to market, the Universally Friendly Obturator is a device that simplifies the brachytherapy procedure, a type of radiation therapy used to treat late-stage cervical cancer. The team’s device makes this lifesaving treatment more accessible to women worldwide, regardless of their economic status.

In addition to their cash prize, the team gained national exposure for their invention, as well as valuable feedback and advice from our influential panel of Judges. “We are honored to have been selected as the winner of the Collegiate Inventors Competition, and we are grateful to the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the USPTO for recognizing the importance and urgency of innovation in cervical cancer treatment,” the team shared. “This award further energizes our team and serves as a vote of confidence as we continue to work toward saving the lives of the hundreds of thousands of women battling cervical cancer worldwide.”

The team would like to thank their collaborating radiation oncologists, Dr. Alexander Hanania and Dr. Michelle Ludwig, and their mentors at Rice University, especially Dr. Matthew Wettergreen and the team at the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health.

Asked for advice they might share with aspiring student inventors, team UFO stressed the benefits of collaborating with a diverse team. “One of the keys to success for our project has been bringing together a diverse team that shares a common passion. We would encourage aspiring inventors to do the same. Find a problem you deeply care about and a team with a shared passion but diverse mindsets.”

Over the next year, the winning inventors plan to finalize the design of the UFO, receive regulatory clearance and begin pilot patient trials at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Ultimately, the team says, their goal is “to make the UFO accessible around the world, and especially in low-resource settings where it is needed most.”


Congratulations to Our Runner-Up

Earning a $5,000 cash prize as well as an Inductee mentorship prize is our Undergraduate Runner-Up, Bryson Pritchard of Stetson University, inventor of the Dyad Syringe.

As the first syringe that allows the administration of medication and sanitation of the device in a single action, the Dyad Syringe can save time and decrease the chance for infection. Pritchard says his next steps will be to finalize his partnership agreement and start selling his product to hospitals.


Arrow Electronics People’s Choice Award

In addition to celebrating our Undergraduate Winner and Runner-Up, we also wish to congratulate the winner of this year’s Arrow Electronics People’s Choice Award team TrachTech of Tulane University.

Arrow Electronics has supported CIC since 2014 and was also the People’s Choice Award sponsor for our 2019 event. This award is voted on by the public, and thanks to Arrow Electronics’ generosity, team TrachTech will receive $2,000 cash and an Inductee mentorship prize.

Team TrachTech — Morgan Bohrer, Stephen Hahn, Michael L’Ecuyer and Alex Verne — invented a device to efficiently remove biofilms and debris from intubation tubes while maintaining continued airflow from ventilators during the cleaning process. This will reduce the likelihood that patients will develop ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).

Following their win, the team plans to pursue patent protection and begin clinical trials for their invention.


Learn More

To find out who has been named our 2020 Graduate Winner, we invite you to visit our blog. You can also find more information about CIC by visiting our website

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