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Behind the NIHF Scenes

Announcing Our 2021 CIC Undergraduate Winners

For over three decades, the Collegiate Inventors Competition® (CIC) has invited the best student inventors from across the country to present their one-of-a-kind 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 held virtually Oct. 12-13 to protect the health of all our Finalists and Judges.


Congratulations to Our 2021 CIC Undergraduate Winner

We are excited to announce that our 2021 Undergraduate Winner is Eva Cai from Harvard University. Cai’s invention, EarFlow, is a drug delivery device that is placed on a patient’s eardrum to treat middle ear infections in less than five minutes and without the need for anesthesia.

As the Undergraduate Winner, Cai received a cash prize of $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 her to ask valuable questions about the inventing process, and how to bring her invention to market.

“I feel incredibly honored and humbled for this recognition,” Cai said in an interview with NIHF. “It was wonderful meeting the Inductees and [CIC] Finalists and learning more about their groundbreaking inventions!”

In her interview, Cai thanked her family and many mentors throughout high school and college for teaching her how to transform the seemingly impossible into the possible by thinking, iterating and persevering. Additionally, she thanked professor Samir Mitragotri, Nicole Black and Eden Tanner for their mentorship and inspiring her interest in drug delivery and biomaterials, and Aaron Remenschneider and Elliott Kozin for encouraging her goal of developing translational technologies.

When asked about her future plans for EarFlow, Cai explained that her team hopes to conduct studies to ensure the safety of her invention and then bring it to a global market.

“We hope to conduct in vivo studies to validate the safety and efficacy of EarFlow, Cai said. “Ultimately, my team and I hope to bring EarFlow to the global market to provide a more efficacious and cost-effective treatment for hundreds of millions of patients.”

Congratulations to Our Runner-Up

Earning a $5,000 cash prize, in addition to an Inductee mentorship prize, is our Undergraduate Runner-Up team, Augment Health Bladder Management System from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Teammates Stephen Kalinsky and Jared Meyers’ invention can help more than 6.5 million people in the United States who suffer from limited bladder sensation — a medical condition where individuals cannot feel when their bladder is full and often suffer incontinence. The team’s invention provides a noninvasive connection between a catheter and catheter valve that allows users to monitor their bladder levels using a smart device.

“We’re proud to represent Georgia Tech and all of the people we’ve worked with to get to this stage,” the team said in an interview with NIHF. “We’re also looking forward to building on this success to push forward our mission to help people with spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions.”

Arrow Electronics People’s Choice Award

In addition to celebrating our Undergraduate Winner and Runner-Up teams, we would also like to congratulate the 2021 Arrow Electronics People’s Choice Award winner: Siddharth Thakur from the University of Texas at Austin.

Thakur’s invention, Firebot, is a thermally insulated, wirelessly controlled, obstacle-climbing robot, which allows firefighters to safely map out the inside of a burning building and rescue people trapped inside.

Arrow Electronics has been a proud supporter of CIC since 2014 and was the People’s Choice Award sponsor for our 2021 event. This award is voted on by the public, and thanks to the company’s generosity, Thakur will receive $2,000 and an Inductee mentorship prize.

“Winning this award empowers me to continue pursuing my passion for bringing this idea to life and is crucial to propelling Firebot from a prototype into the hands of firefighters,” Thakur said in an interview with NIHF. “Though the event was held in an online format this year, listening to the Inductees’ enthralling stories of innovation and entrepreneurship made this competition an unforgettable experience.”

Check Out Our 2021 CIC Graduate Winners

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

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