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Behind the NIHF Scenes

Announcing Our 2021 CIC Graduate Winners

For over three decades, the Collegiate Inventors Competition® (CIC) has brought the country’s best student inventors together to present 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 was conducted virtually on Oct. 12-13 to ensure the health and safety of all our Finalists and Judges.


Congratulations to Our 2021 CIC Graduate Winner

We are excited to announce that our 2021 Graduate Winner is Shrish Patel from Stony Brook University. Patel’s invention, SolarClear, is an autonomous, waterless cleaning technology that effectively cleans dust and debris from solar panels — especially those located in desert climates.

As the Graduate Winner, Patel received $10,000, a USPTO Patent Acceleration Certificate and a mentorship prize that includes a one-on-one conversation with a NIHF Inductee that will allow him to ask valuable questions about inventing and bringing his invention to market.

“I am grateful beyond words to win the Collegiate Inventors Competition,” Patel said in an interview with NIHF. “I am so honored, and at the same time humbled, to have my work recognized by NIHF and USPTO. This is both a top personal and professional achievement in my whole career.”

During the competition, Patel was impressed with the questions asked by the panel of Inductees. The experience had a lasting impression on him, and he looks forward to additional mentorship opportunities following CIC.

I am excited to be mentored during the one-on-one session with a NIHF Inductee and learn more about their inventing journey,” he said.

In his interview, Patel said that his success would not have been possible without the guidance and support of his doctoral adviser Alexander Orlov and his mentors Vijayen Veerasamy, research professor at Stony Brook University, and Jim Smith, former assistant vice president at Stony Brook University.

When asked about his future plans for SolarClear, Patel expressed his hopes for near-term pilot testing, followed by future large-scale adoption of his technology.

The short-term goal is to perform pilot testing of the technology with our industry partners in the solar ecosystem, Patel said. “Our long-term goal is to see this technology adopted on a large scale, driving down the cost of electricity from solar panels and making solar power a sustainable energy source.”


Congratulations to Our Runner-Up

Earning $5,000 and a NIHF Inductee mentorship prize is our Graduate Runner-Up, Maha Alafeef and her invention, VirSENSE.

VirSENSE is a rapid test for COVID-19 that users can administer reliably and from the comfort of their homes. Unlike other rapid COVID-19 tests, this invention can detect COVID-19 even before a person’s body develops a detectable antibody response.

“This is a milestone achievement for me, and this recognition will surely help pave my way to continue with my passion for innovating for the benefit of humankind,” Alafeef said in an interview with NIHF.

Alafeef’s plans for VirSENSE are to complete all regulatory approvals in order to bring her invention to market. “We are working on receiving all required regulatory and commercial approvals so that our test can be readily available as an off-the-shelf product,” Alafeef said. “Users will have access to a rapid and cost-effective test to help in diagnosing infectious diseases and save people’s lives.”

Check Out Our 2021 CIC Undergraduate Winners

To discover the 2021 CIC Undergraduate Winners, we invite you to check out our blog or learn about CIC on our website.

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