The Collegiate Inventors Competition® (CIC) brings together top student inventors from across the country to showcase their unique inventions. To be selected as a Finalist for CIC is a testament to the high-caliber work produced by a student team; to take first place in the competition is an even more impressive feat.
This year, the Undergraduate Winner was team PE-IVT (Positively Engaged, Infinitely Variable Transmission Using Split Helical Gears), led by University of Nebraska–Lincoln student, Ethan R. Brush.
PE-IVT represents a new class of transmission that combines the torque of gear-based transmissions with the efficiency of continuously variable transmissions. The PE-IVT operates at 88 to 98% efficiency across all gear ratios, and it could disrupt existing technologies and reduce energy losses across a range of applications and industries. As demand for electric vehicles rises, so does the need for a more suitable transmission, and this is where the PE-IVT hopes to forge new ground.
Brush says that he’s had an interest in gears and motors ever since he was a child. He remembers his mother taking him to the library when he was younger to check out books on physics and doodling “invention” mechanisms whenever he was bored. Since then, his interests have turned toward environmental issues.
Engineering appealed to Brush because it offered him a chance to make a positive impact on the environment while using the skills he feels most confident in. Spatial thinking, visualizing systems of moving parts and problem solving are at the top of his list.
Alleviating climate change is no small task, and Brush says that many of the challenges in creating a cleaner world can be “disheartening.” Still, his ultimate goal is to find solutions to real problems, and he’s discovered an inspiring mantra that’s helped him push forward: “Despair doesn’t sequester carbon.”
Brush certainly hasn’t allowed despair to stop him from making progress. In addition to winning First Place at CIC, he has submitted a full patent application after a year of provisional status and has presented a paper at ASME IDETC 2018 in Quebec City.
“It’s not like I set out to invent; I was just trying to solve a problem using the skills and context I had,” he says. “If I can say this with zero implied ego, I inspired myself to invent, through a lifetime of diving deep into my interests and obsessing over problems bigger than myself.”
As Brush aims to use the PE-IVT to drive efficiency forward, his commitment to well-designed and integrity-based engineering will enable him to create the kind of world he hopes to see.
To learn more about Brush’s invention, check out the video below. You can also find out more information about CIC by visiting our website.