2022 Collegiate Inventors Competition Finalists Show Future of American Innovation

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Sept. 13, 2022 — The Collegiate Inventors Competition®, an annual competition that has rewarded innovations, discoveries and research by college and university students and their faculty advisers for more than 30 years, announced today its 2022 finalists.

This year’s finalists and their inventions provide a glimpse into the future of American innovation and emerging technological trends — from a safer approach to pesticide use to a device to reduce clubfoot care relapse. Through their research, these students have harnessed their “inner inventor” to make working prototypes that can positively change our world.

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, level of student initiative, and potential value and usefulness to society. The finalists will present their inventions Oct. 12 to a panel of final-round judges composed of the most influential inventors and invention experts in the nation — National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductees and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) officials. Winning teams will be announced on Oct. 13.

“There is a crucial need for us all to invest in the next generation of world-changing inventors,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “The USPTO is honored to recognize the amazing work of the finalists in the Collegiate Inventors Competition, where the future of American innovation is on display.”

Established in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition is a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is sponsored by the USPTO and Arrow Electronics (Arrow Electronics People’s Choice Award). Follow the National Inventors Hall of Fame on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates and additional information.

 

UNDERGRADUATE FINALISTS

CatheSure, Clemson University

Team Members: Kathleen Fallon, Ally Reichart, Karly Ripple and Jordan Cole; Adviser: John DesJardins

Safely supporting the treatment of hydrocephalus: Hydrocephalus is the buildup of fluid within the brain’s ventricles. It affects patients of all ages, including one in 500 children worldwide, and is typically treated with a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. However, shunt malfunctions are frequent, extremely difficult to detect and life-threatening if not treated promptly. The CatheSure is the first device that noninvasively and wirelessly detects ventriculoperitoneal shunt failure. Rapid, cost effective and easy to use, it is integrated with an existing shunt and lasts the entire lifetime of the shunt, without requiring battery replacements or Wi-Fi access.

 

Dynamic Brace, Johns Hopkins University

Team Members: Hannah Yamagata, Jenlu Pagnotta and Delphine Tan; Adviser: Alissa Burkholder Murphy

Comfort and mobility for successful clubfoot care: Clubfoot, a birth defect causing the foot or feet to turn inward and downward, affects one in 1,000 U.S. infants annually and can hinder the ability to walk. With a typical “boots and bar” brace system, which rigidly connects and demobilizes the feet, one in four children experience relapse, often due to noncompliance. The soft, flexible, lightweight Dynamic Brace increases compliance, eliminating the need for a connecting bar and supporting mobility and comfort by allowing both feet to move independently.

 

Sequestron, University of California, Santa Barbara

Team Member: Visala Tallavarjula; Adviser: Ashok Das

An efficient, cost-effective irrigation solution: Over the next 25 years, global food demand is expected to increase by 70%, leading to more water usage. Traditional above-ground irrigation methods are inefficient and often involve evaporation loss, and subsurface irrigation requires a costly initial investment. Sequestron is an infiltration insert method that suppresses evaporation using a topsoil bed, keeping water at the root zone and preventing it from reaching groundwater reserves by the Percolation Control Layer. Delivering many advantages over standard techniques, it can be implemented using materials that are readily available to most farmers.

 

AeroPest, Drexel University

Team Members: Harrison Hertzberg, Daniel Chester-Ziv and Eric Nguyen; Adviser: Chuck Sacco

Elevating pest management efforts: To eliminate pest infestations in elevated areas, pest control service personnel often use ladders, lifts or roof climbing equipment and wear cumbersome protective gear and backpack sprayers, increasing the risk of falls. With AeroPest, unmanned aerial vehicles, or flying drones, are used to carry a precision spraying system to eliminate pests in restricted areas and at heights previously unreachable. This system can precisely spray or inject only the necessary insecticide dosage, avoiding chemical overspray and environmentally harmful runoff while reducing injury risks.

 

Adaptive High-Temperature End Effector, Virginia Commonwealth University

Team Members: Logan Schorr, Bradley Johnson and Jesse McFall; Adviser: Ravi Hadimani

Enabling new possibilities in additive manufacturing: Additive manufacturing (3D printing) can produce everything from artificial body parts to full-sized houses. The Adaptive High-Temperature End Effector is designed to help reduce production time, enable mass production and lower costs for small-batch production of specialty items. Using a robotic arm equipped with an end effector that functions like tongs, alloy steel grippers and aluminum oxide castable ceramic insulators, this technology also can eliminate risks involved in handling high-temperature metal, supporting new capabilities in additive manufacturing.

 

GRADUATE FINALISTS

AgZen-Cloak, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Team Member: Vishnu Jayaprakash; Adviser: Kripa Varanasi

A smarter, safer approach to pesticide use: Agricultural pesticide pollution is responsible for about 200,000 deaths and 385 million acute illnesses annually. Only 2% of sprayed pesticide reaches targeted plant surfaces because these surfaces are water repellant, so pesticides are regularly oversprayed. AgZen-Cloak technology cloaks droplets of pesticide-laden water with an ultra-thin layer of biodegradable, food-safe, plant-derived oil to increase retention on plants. This invention could help farmers use approximately 80% less spray and ensure better crop protection, yield and revenue while reducing pollution.

 

A-SEP, Harvard University

Team Members: Jiwon Woo, Yoolim Jenn Kim, Haritosh Patel and Victor Champagne; Adviser: Joanna Aizenberg

Speeding the diagnosis of septic shock: Sepsis, which occurs when the body’s response to infection damages its own organs, results in death for about 20% of infected patients. Treatment success often depends on the speed of diagnosis, so A-SEP focuses on quickly detecting endotoxin concentration in blood plasma. Building on a limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) inversion test, A-SEP uses a paper-based microfluidic test kit to determine the level of infection in patients’ blood. This low-cost technology can be deployed around the world to combat the disproportionate deaths in low-resource settings.

 

OCTOPUS, University of Pennsylvania

Team Members: Sunghee Estelle Park, Shawn Kang and Jeehan Chang; Adviser: Dan Dongeun Huh

Revolutionizing drug development: Currently, fewer than 9% of drugs entering clinical trials are approved for the marketplace. To effectively predict patient responses to drugs and reduce the time and money needed to bring drugs to market, OCTOPUS enables the growth of stem cell-derived mini-organs, or organoids, which mimic the structure and function of human organs and can grow to the necessary maturity to correctly predict responses to specific therapeutics. This accessible approach also presents the possibility of generating patient-specific organoids for personalized medicine.

 

epiSLS, University of Michigan

Team Members: Parker Martin and Cory Cooney; Adviser: Anne Perigo

An accessible solution for allergy testing: Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the U.S. and can be life-threatening. Currently, the best allergy testing method is a skin prick test conducted by an allergist. However, there is just one allergist per 50,000 people in the U.S. Using a new optical sensing technology to measure mast cell degranulation, epiSLS is the first point-of-care allergy test. Offering accuracy, speed and accessibility, epiSLS can help provide the highest quality care regardless of access to specialists.

 

Hypoxia Imager for Surgery Guidance, Dartmouth College

Team Member: Arthur Petusseau; Advisers: Brian Pogue and Petr Bruza

Advancing oncology surgery: An estimated 1.9 million new cancer diagnoses are expected to occur in the U.S. in 2022. The primary modality for solid tumor cancer treatment is surgery. Unfortunately, tumor tissue can be missed during resection, increasing the risk of cancer recurrence. Surgery can be made more specific using fluorescent markers to enhance contrast during tumor resection. The Hypoxia Imager for Surgery Guidance is a time-gated optical system enabling real-time imaging of hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. As tumors are hypoxic, imaging oxygen distribution can greatly enhance surgery outcome.

 

About the Collegiate Inventors Competition

The Collegiate Inventors Competition encourages and drives innovation and entrepreneurship at the collegiate level. A program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, this competition recognizes and rewards the research, innovations and discoveries by college students and their advisers for projects leading to inventions that have the potential of receiving patent protection. Introduced in 1990, the competition has featured more than 500 innovators who have created cutting-edge, world-changing inventions, and awarded more than $1 million of support to winning student teams for their innovative work and scientific achievement through the help of its sponsors. For more information, visit invent.org/collegiate-inventors.

 

Contact

Ken Torisky
National Inventors Hall of Fame
[email protected]
234-901-6085

Learn About Past Collegiate Inventors Competition Finalists

2021 Finalists