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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – 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.

Mercy Asiedu, Duke University, $15,000 Graduate Winner


The 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.

Ithemba: Laura Hinson, Madeline Lee, Sophia Triantis, and Valerie Zawicki, Johns Hopkins University, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner

A 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.

Julie Bliss Mullen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, $15,000 Graduate Winner



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. 

The BioEnergy Project: Enid Partika and William Tanaka, University of California San Diego, $10,000 Undergraduate Team Winner

A 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. 

Federico Scurti, North Carolina State University, $15,000 Graduate Winner

An 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.

Portal 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.

Arnav Kapur, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $15,000 Graduate Winner 

The 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 in real-time. 

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.

 

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In recognition of the growing momentum behind Invention Education, The Lemelson Foundation, a leading funder dedicated to advancing invention in service of social and economic change, will join with partners to discuss this new educational paradigm for the first time at SXSW EDU 2019, March 4-7, in Austin, TX. The programming, consisting of three interactive sessions, will be open to the more than 15,000 expected attendees of SXSW EDU.    

“Invention Education is about fostering the skillsets and mindsets that will help future-proof our students so they thrive in school and throughout their careers,” notes David Coronado, Program Officer for the K-12 Initiative at The Lemelson Foundation. “With more than 40 organizations now adopting curricula for in-school and out-of-school programming, we’re excited to bring Invention Education to the SXSW EDU community.” 

In today’s rapidly changing world, inventive thinking and inventing new solutions are economic and social imperatives. The education community, policy makers, and corporate leaders all cite the need to increase the innovation and innovator capacity in the U.S. in order to advance social and economic opportunity domestically and abroad.  

Invention Education represents a new education paradigm that draws upon Human-Centered Engineering Design and the Scientific Method, among other disciplines. Hands-on, self-directed learning coupled with practical application of design and STEM principles are essential for building invention skills. 

Invention Education encourages problem identification, experimentation, collaboration, critical thinking, and hands-on engagement to create new solutions with social purpose. The goal is to enable students to lead creative and inventive lives, with the confidence to make informed choices and take action to solve the problems they encounter to improve not only their lives, but also the lives of others. Students are also encouraged to integrate entrepreneurship thinking in order to learn how to translate their ideas into businesses with economic impact. 

The Lemelson Foundation is part of a growing coalition that supports the promise of Invention Education, including partner organizations at MIT, the Smithsonian, The Henry Ford STEMIE Coalition, the Society for Science & the Public, Maker Ed, and many others.

At SXSW EDU 2019, The Lemelson Foundation and partners will host three interactive sessions over the course of two days, March 4th and 5th: 

  • Inventiveness is a Building Block for Resiliency - Students’ futures require systems that cultivate personal agency and inventive spirit. Experts will discuss the need to transform our educational approach to focus on students as problem-solvers. [March 4, 11 AM CST, Hilton, Salon E]
  • A New Paradigm for Tomorrow’s Workforce - Learn how Invention Education is helping to cultivate a new generation of inventive youth by redesigning the student experience to focus on real-world problem solving. [March 5, 11 AM CST, Hilton, Salon G]
  • Delivering the Invention Education Experience - This hands-on workshop will bring together educators to demonstrate methodologies for delivering Invention Education for in- and out-of-class settings. [March 5, 1:30 PM CST, Conference Center, 9C]

“Invention Education empowers students to take ownership of problems and solutions, learning the importance of persistence to succeed and a willingness to fail,” notes Kristin Moon, K-12 Science/STEAM Teacher on Special Assignment with Portland Public Schools. “It strengthens creativity, problem-solving skills, and confidence, regardless of whether students become inventors or not.”

Learn more about the transformational power of Invention Education by visiting http://www.inventioneducation.org. 

About The Lemelson Foundation 

Based in Portland, 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 more than $210 million in support of its mission. For more information, visit www.lemelson.org.

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The Lemelson-MIT program announced its 2018-2019 InvenTeams, which will spend the next year developing invention projects that will be showcased at the annual EurekaFest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June 2019.

Now in its fifteenth year, InvenTeams inspires youth to invent technological solutions to real-world problems of their own choosing. 

The 15 teams, comprised of students, teachers, and community mentors, will each receive up to $10,000 in grant funding to apply their learnings and experiences to build their inventions. 

This year’s InvenTeam projects include a danger alert system for schools, personal safety monitor to prevent injuries and fatalities for workers and rescuers in confined spaces, and a vital sign monitoring system for firefighters to prevent the risk of overexertion during fire rescues.

Read more about InvenTeams and their projects.

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At the 2018 Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) competition, The Lemelson Foundation awarded the Lemelson Award for Invention to Salem, Oregon student John Madland for his project: Terrella Aurora Model: A Demonstration of Charged Particle Shielding for Space Exploration. 

He was one of the 30 middle school student finalists at this year’s competition in Washington, D.C. Broadcom MASTERS was founded and produced by the Society for Science & the Public to inspire young scientists, engineers, and innovators to solve the grand challenges of the future.

The Lemelson Award for Invention is awarded each year to a young inventor creating promising solutions to real-world problems. 

John Madland teamed up with another Salem middle school student, Mihir Joshi, to create a model showing that a magnetic field above the surface of Mars might protect future inhabitants from radiation. 

Read more about John and Mihir’s project and the other 2018 Broadcom MASTERS winners.

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The MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition offers important lessons on how to conduct large award competitions in ways that can boost the field of philanthropy.

In an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, The Lemelson Foundation’s Executive Director Carol Dahl discusses the vital role of early-innovation funders to create a sustainable pipeline for these competitions. 

Dahl shares lessons learned with our network of grantees and partners – including VentureWell, Villgro, and Rice 360˚, on how strategic upstream funding can prepare invention-based enterprises for scaling with downstream funders for social impact. 

Read the full article

 

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October 02, 2018

Portland, OR – October 02, 2018 – The Lemelson Foundation, the world’s leading funder of invention in service of social and economic change, today announced the addition of Rob Schneider to its staff as Senior Director of Strategy.

Rob will provide strategic guidance and leadership to further the Foundation’s mission to cultivate the next generation of inventors and invention-based businesses in order to foster a more resilient US economy and improve the lives of the poor in developing countries. 

“Today's inventors are working to solve some of the biggest challenges of our time,” said Executive Director Carol Dahl. “We are excited to have someone with Rob’s experience in partnership-building to advance our efforts to unite stakeholders in key sectors - such as education, government, and economic development - who can help build enabling environments where inventors and invention-based businesses can thrive.”  

Rob comes to The Lemelson Foundation after a decade at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) managing public-private partnerships, including those between USAID and Fortune 50 corporations. As the Division Chief for Global Partnerships, he created and managed the $20M Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) initiative, which has catalyzed more than $200M in private-sector funding to support innovative approaches that promote local entrepreneurs around the world. Rob has broad government experience, starting at USAID as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2005, and working with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and at the Economic Development Administration, focused on US urban development issues. In addition, Schneider brings a wealth of private sector experience through his work in the manufacturing and telecommunications sectors. 

The Lemelson Foundation provides support for projects that inspire students to become agents of change through invention and the creation of invention-based businesses. In particular, the Foundation focuses on Impact Inventing, supporting the creation of new products that will have positive social impact, are environmentally responsible, and are financially self-sustaining. The Foundation believes that Impact Inventing is a transformative force for solving critical problems in local communities and around the world, building resilient economies, and improving lives.

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We're proud to announce that Luis von Ahn, the co-inventor of CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA and CEO of Duolingo, is the 2018 winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.

Raised in Guatemala, Luis saw the importance of opportunity and education for success. That's why he developed Duolingo, a free and accessible platform for language learning. He has also been a pioneer in cybersecurity through his work with CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA. 

Luis has taught and inspired the next generation of inventors as a professor at Carnegie Mellon, where his humorous teaching style attracted hundreds of students to his computer science course each semester.

You can read more about Luis von Ahn and his work as an inventor on Lemelson-MIT.

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Inventors play a critical role in fostering innovation, strengthening economies, and addressing everyday problems and grand challenges around the world. Recognizing the critical role inventors play in society, AAAS and The Lemelson Foundation have partnered to highlight the human face of modern invention through the AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors Program.

Over the past four years, the AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors Program has built a community of 32 Invention Ambassadors who are empowered to raise awareness of the global impact of invention.

“Today we are pleased and proud to welcome the 2018-2019 class of AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors,” says Shirley Malcom, Ph.D., director of Education and Human Resources Programs at AAAS. “We expect that their energy and stories will excite audiences as they learn about the place of invention and innovation in our economy and in our lives.”

The new class of Invention Ambassadors represent the spirit of today’s inventors through their dedication to improving the world we live in and inspiring the next generation of inventors. They are a diverse group of eight inventors who are driving advancements in accessibility, security, healthcare delivery, and sustainability, among other areas. Members of this class include representatives of the public and private sectors, small businesses, academia, and Fortune 500 companies.

The program will provide platforms for this group to:

  • Inspire a new and diverse generation of inventors dedicated to solving difficult global challenges
  • Inform on the components needed to create inventions that sustainably solve global problems
  • Influence policy makers, thought leaders & public
The 2018 – 2019 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors:

Tyrone Grandison
Founder, Data Driven Institute

Jason Grieves
Senior Program Manager, Microsoft

Stephen Key
Co-Founder, inventRight

Mary Kombolias
Senior Chemist, US Government Publishing Office; and Guest Researcher, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Fang (Florence) Lu
Senior Solution Architect, IBM Research

Donald McPherson
Chief Science Officer, Co-Founder & Inventor, EnChroma, Inc.

Pratik Shah
Research Scientist, Principal Investigator Media Arts & Science, MIT Media Lab

Rachel Walker
Assistant Professor, UMass Amherst College of Nursing

This new class brings the number of inventors in the AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador community to 40, who together hold over 1,800 patents. AAAS and 

The Lemelson Foundation will welcome and celebrate the 2018-2019 Invention Ambassadors at an orientation at the AAAS headquarters, July 23 – July 25. On Tuesday, July 24th the 5th annual, “Celebrate Invention” event will take place at AAAS, where the Ambassadors will share their stories as inventors, introduce their inventions, and discuss their impact on regional and global problems.

 

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Following a nationwide search for the most inventive college students, the Lemelson-MIT Program announced the winners of the 2018 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. The Program awarded a total of $80,000 in prizes to 14 undergraduate and graduate student inventors, selected from a large and highly competitive pool of applicants from across the United States. 

The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, serving as a catalyst for young inventors in the fields of health care, transportation and mobility, food/water and agriculture, and consumer devices.

Read more at https://lemelson.mit.edu/news/top-student-inventors-awarded-lemelson-mit-student-prize

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New University of Michigan initiative aims to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels

To address the problem of increasing CO2 emissions, The Lemelson Foundation has partnered with the University of Michigan Energy Institute’s Global CO2 Initiative. The initiative aims to develop technologies to utilize captured carbon dioxide for carbon-based products, like construction materials, fuels, and agricultural materials. These innovations hope to make removal of CO2 from the atmosphere not just an environmental social good, but a business-friendly decision.

Through these methods, the Global CO2 Initiative aims to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels by the equivalent of 10% of current levels by 2030.

Read more at https://www.globalco2initiative.org/

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