Following a nationwide search for the most inventive college students,
the Lemelson-MIT Program today announced the winners of the 2019
Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. The prize recognizes young inventors who
have dedicated themselves to solving global problems. This year’s
inventions range from innovative, low-cost cancer screening tools to an
affordable clean water system, which ensures homes and families have
clean, safe water.
The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is supported by The Lemelson Foundation,
and serves as a catalyst for young inventors in the fields of
healthcare, transportation and mobility, food/water and agriculture, and
consumer devices. The Program awarded a total of $90,000 in prizes to
three undergraduate teams and four individual graduate student
inventors, selected from a large and highly competitive pool of
applicants from across the United States. Students were selected based
on a variety of factors including: the overall inventiveness of their
work, the invention’s potential for commercialization or adoption, and
youth mentorship experience.
“We are inspired by the revolutionary work of this year’s winners. All
of the inventions are designed with the intention of making the world a
better place,” said faculty director of the Lemelson-MIT Program and
Associate Dean of Innovation at MIT’s School of Engineering, Prof.
Michael J. Cima. “We are proud of how dedicated these young inventors
are to combatting real-world problems.”
“We congratulate this year’s winners for their outstanding work tackling
significant challenges in order to improve lives both in the United
States and around the world,” said Carol Dahl, executive director at The
Lemelson Foundation. “This diverse group of students drives home the
opportunity that exists to inspire young minds across the country to
create the essential inventions of today and tomorrow.”
2019 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Winners
The “Cure it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding
technology-based inventions that involve healthcare.
Asiedu, Duke University, $15,000 Graduate Winner
majority of cervical cancer-related deaths occur in low and
middle-income countries due to the lack of affordable screening
technology. Mercy invented the Callascope, a high quality, low-cost,
speculum-free device for cervical cancer screening and prevention. The
device can be easily inserted into the vagina, like a tampon, either
by a physician or for self-imaging/screening. It is fitted with a
consumer-grade light source and camera to take images of the cervix
from inside the body. The Callascope provides a cost-effective option
for cervical cancer screenings in low-resource settings with limited
available technologies. It can be connected to a mobile phone, tablet
or computer, and is coupled with an algorithm that uses machine
learning to classify cervix images as normal or pre-cancerous.
Laura Hinson, Madeline Lee, Sophia Triantis, and Valerie Zawicki,
Johns Hopkins University, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner
reusable, affordable, and contamination-free core needle breast biopsy
device that is designed to support earlier breast cancer detection in
low-resource settings. The reusable devices currently available on the
market are expensive and require a 24-hour cleaning process. Ithemba’s
novel device is not only affordable, but can also be sterilized
instantly with a bleach wipe. With Ithemba’s device, performing breast
biopsies will be significantly less expensive for hospitals and
physicians in low-resource settings, and much safer for their patients.
The “Eat it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding
technology-based inventions that involve food/water and agriculture.
Bliss Mullen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, $15,000
Julie’s company, Aclarity LLC,
offers a scalable electrochemical water purification technology
marketed initially for residential use that uses low amounts of
electricity to zap contaminants in water through advanced oxidation
reactions. The technology disinfects pathogens, destroys organic
contaminants, removes metals, and normalizes pH to produce truly clean
and safe water. It reduces maintenance, uses low energy and purifies
water faster and more efficiently than conventional treatment methods
in the U.S. and globally.
BioEnergy Project: Enid Partika and William Tanaka, University of
California San Diego, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner
compact and scalable food-waste-to-food-and-fuel system that converts
food waste from dining halls and restaurants into both nutrient-rich
organic fertilizer that can be used to grow more food, as well as
electricity that is generated from biogas. Right now, 40% of all food
produced is wasted and dumped into landfills. When food decomposes in
a landfill it generates methane, which is released into the
atmosphere. Currently, food waste is responsible for 8% of the total
anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions globally. The BioEnergy
Project’s invention is a cyclical system that can tackle the
environmental and agricultural concerns of food insecurity, the need
for renewable energy sources, and addresses climate change by
capturing and utilizing a methane source that would otherwise be
released into the atmosphere from landfills.
The “Move it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding
technology-based inventions that involve transportation and mobility.
Scurti, North Carolina State University, $15,000 Graduate Winner
internal monitoring system for High Temperature Superconductors (HTS),
consisting of a sensing system to detect local, incipient failures in
the HTS wire that generates the magnetic field needed to operate
electric motors or Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) trains. The sensing
system is based on optical fibers embedded into superconducting wires
that are able to prevent failure of the superconductor. This invention
allows for reliable operation of HTS systems, thereby bringing HTS
materials and systems to fruition via applications such as electric
motors for carbon-free ships and aircrafts, carbon-free, high-speed
MagLev trains, and nuclear fusion reactors for power generation.
Entryways: Josh Horne and Morgen Glessing, Brigham Young University,
$10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner
A wireless device that
opens disabled-accessible doors when a user approaches with the Portal
smartphone application. A small wireless receiver is installed on the
door and the user’s Portal app uses proximity to tell the door when to
open upon approach. In addition to benefitting people with
mobility-related disabilities, the system also enables facilities
managers to track door usage data in order to maintain accessibility.
The “Use it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize: Rewarding
technology-based inventions that involve consumer devices.
Kapur, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $15,000 Graduate Winner
headset-like device, AlterEgo, is a sensory and auditory feedback
system, which uses neuromuscular signals from the brain’s speech
system to extract speech. When we talk to ourselves internally, our
brain transmits electrical signals to the vocal cords and internal
muscles involved in speech production. With AlterEgo, an Artificial
Intelligence (AI) agent is able to make sense of these signals and
prepare a response. The user can hear the AI agent’s responses through
vibrations in the skull and inner ear, thus making the process
entirely internal. The AI agent can also send the information to a
computer, to help an individual with a speech disability communicate
Students interested in applying for the 2020 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize
can find more information here.
The 2020 Student Prize application will open in May 2019.
ABOUT THE LEMELSON-MIT PROGRAM
The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires
young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.
Jerome H. Lemelson, one of the most prolific American inventors, and his
wife, Dorothy, founded the Program at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and
administered by the School of Engineering at MIT, an institution with a
strong ongoing commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for K-12
STEM education. For more information, visit Lemelson.MIT.edu.
ABOUT THE LEMELSON FOUNDATION
Established in the early 1990s by Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson and based
in Portland, Oregon, The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention
to improve lives. Inspired by the belief that invention can solve many
of the biggest economic and social challenges of our time, the
Foundation helps the next generation of inventors and invention-based
businesses to flourish. The Lemelson Foundation was established in the
early 1990s by prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy
and continues to be led by the Lemelson family. To date, the Foundation
has made grants totaling over $210 million in support of its mission.
For more information, visit http://lemelson.org.