Collegiate Inventors Competition® Announces 2015 Finalists

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — The Collegiate Inventors Competition announced today its 2015 Finalists – rising leaders who are driving global change and impacting economic growth. The Finalists and their prototypes provide a glimpse into the future of American innovation, emerging technological trends and booming industries.

Established in 1990, this nationwide Competition encourages innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity by recognizing and rewarding undergraduate and graduate college students for their breakthrough inventions. The Collegiate Inventors Competition is a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and AbbVie Foundation.

Each year, individuals representing a broad cross-section of technological fields serve as first round judges, selecting the Finalists based on originality of the idea, process (or technology used), level of student initiative and potential value and usefulness to society.  The Finalists will travel to Alexandria, Va., to present their inventions on Monday, November 16, 2015, to an esteemed panel of final round judges, comprised of the most influential inventors and invention experts in the nation – National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees, USPTO experts and AbbVie scientists.

“The USPTO is proud to host the 2015 Collegiate Inventors Competition,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, Michelle K. Lee. “Each year, these emerging innovators transform their ideas into solutions for real world problems. They are an inspiration to those of us committed to promoting innovation and the value of intellectual property.”

Mo Rocca, Emmy winning CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and Host of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, will host the Collegiate Inventors Competition Awards Ceremony during which the winners will be announced. The top undergraduate winner will receive $12,500 and the top graduate winner will receive $15,000. Second and third place winners will also be recognized with cash and prizes.

“I am honored to be hosting the 2015 Collegiate Inventors Competition Awards Ceremony. If only this contest had existed when I was in college, then my own pioneering work in procrastination would surely have been recognized. I guess it’s too late for me to apply … right?” Rocca said. “The innovative ideas these students are presenting allow us to peer into the future of our country and see firsthand the starting point of phenomenal breakthroughs that are sure to have a positive impact on society.”

Competition Finalists will showcase their inventions and interact with thousands of USPTO patent and trademark examiners, sponsors, media and the public at the Collegiate Inventors Competition Expo. The Expo is free and open to the public and will be held on November 17, 2015, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the USPTO Madison Building Auditorium, with the Awards Ceremony immediately following at 5 p.m.

Follow the Collegiate Inventors Competition on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Periscope for live updates, exclusive interviews with Finalists and winners, real-time announcements and additional information. All Expo attendees are encouraged to post a comment, photo or video and tag #CICExpo.

The 2015 Undergraduate and Graduate Finalists are:


Kevin Eisenfrats, Adam Ewel, Catherine Henry, Nicolas Hogan
University of Virginia
Invention: Contraline: Non-Surgical, Hormone-Sparing Contraceptive for Male Cats and Dogs
Advisor: John Herr

A “No-Snip” Pet Contraception
Contraline is a novel, non-surgical way to neuter your cat or dog. A polymer gel with microbubbles is injected to block sperm flow. These bubbles make the gel visible with an ultrasound device, thus helping veterinarians insert the gel and also check its status during future visits. The procedure requires no general anesthesia and is easily reversible.


Jay Fraser, Kathryn Kundrod
Lehigh University
Invention: Cyclic Solutions: Viral Diagnostic Technology
Advisor: Xuanhong Cheng

The Incredible Shrinking Laboratory
Effective HIV treatment begins with knowing how much virus is in the blood. Current tests require a laboratory and trained technicians, which are rare in resource-limited settings where a majority of the 35 million people infected with HIV live. Cyclic Solutions has developed an inexpensive “lab on a chip” for this purpose that will be able to bring the lab to the patient, improving access to life-saving information.


Neil Davey
Harvard University
Invention: Early Cancer Diagnosis by the Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells using Drop-Based Microfluidics
Advisor: Huidan Zhang

A Drop of Blood Joins the Fight Against Cancer
Early and accurate diagnoses of cancer can positively affect survival rates. The best method now is: first, knowing that a tumor exists, and second, having it biopsied, which is invasive and often dangerous. Neil Davey has plans to change that. He has devised a technology that can detect and isolate tumor cells that circulate in the body using a simple blood sample.


Katherine Jin, Jason Kang, Kevin Tyan
Columbia University
Invention: Highlight: Powdered Additive for Disinfectants
Advisor: Aaron M. Kyle

The New Standard for Decontamination
It is standard healthcare practice to use bleach sprays for disinfecting surfaces. However, bleach sprays have several flaws that allow for transmission of disease. Highlight is a powdered additive that is mixed into disinfectants at point-of-use and improves the process of decontamination by visualizing coverage of sprayed surfaces, preventing beading and dripping and slowing evaporation. All are critical factors for maximizing the effectiveness of disinfectants, making for a safer environment.


Joseph Barnett, Stephen John
Western Michigan University
Invention: NeoVent: Dual Pressure Respiratory Equipment
Advisor: Peter Gustafson

Bubble Power
The NeoVent is an adaptor that transforms a low-tech infant respiratory device into one that provides the additional benefits of a ventilator at much less expense. It temporarily traps the exhaust bubbles of the original device to produce the alternating levels of airway pressure recommended for the newborns who need the most help breathing. The invention could help hundreds of thousands in poverty-stricken areas.


Justin Keenan, Kevin Paroda
Penn State University
Invention: Qthrough: Automated 3D Printer Build Plate
Advisor: Sven Bilen

3D Printing: “The Wait” is Over
Printing in three dimensions is so 21st Century, but for the people involved, it can feel very 17th. Objects can only be printed one at a time and a person must wait and remove each one by hand before the next one can begin. Qthrough is a conveyer belt that uses a thin roll of plastic held in place by a vacuum. The objects are printed onto this plastic, which is automatically advanced, allowing for continuous printing. This add-on invention is compatible with 70% of printers on the market today.


Malvi Hemani, Melissa Lin, Kunal Patel, Huilei Wang
Johns Hopkins University
Invention: TocoTrack: Low-Cost Uterine Contraction Monitor
Advisor: Robert H. Allen

A Midwife’s Best Friend
The activities of a doctor, nurse and medical tracking equipment in the U.S. are often the job of a midwife in a low-income country. TocoTrack automates the time-consuming but essential process of monitoring contractions so a midwife who, on average, cares for four mothers at a time, can more efficiently diagnose complications before they become life-threatening.



David Kolesky
Harvard University
Invention: 3D Bioprinting Vascularized Human Tissue
Advisor: Jennifer Lewis

Bioprinting Breakthrough
A 3D printer has been used to build human tissue and the blood vessels to keep it alive for the first time. This method could create skin to be used in grafts, allow for in vitro drug testing before clinical trials and generate different types of tumors to study their growth and reactions to treatments. The possibilities are endless and game-changing.


Stafford Sheehan
Yale University
Invention: Corrosion-Resistant Molecular Coatings
Advisor: Aaron Bloomfield

An Element of Safety
Iridium is the most corrosion-resistant metal and one of the rarest elements on Earth, making it impractical for use on a large scale. This process creates an ultra-thin layer of an iridium-containing molecule that can be bonded onto other metals and metal oxides. Oil, gas and chemical industries will benefit from this more cost-efficient technology, where stopping corrosion is crucial for safe operations.


Georgios Katsikis
Stanford University
Invention: FluidBits: Synchronous Droplet Logic and Control
Advisor: Manu Prakash

Computing H2O
A new kind of computing has been built upon a drop of water. Computers electrically move bits of information, but FluidBits magnetically move small drops of water that are able to carry other materials. The invention makes it possible to very quickly conduct laboratory tests on samples from a pre-programmed hand-held device, making important tests more accessible for those in remote areas.


Cassidy Blundell, Nicholas Perkons, Jeongyun Seo
University of Pennsylvania
Invention: Human Blinking “Eye-on-a-Chip”
Advisor: Dongeun (Dan) Huh

Eye Simulator
It took a variety of complex techniques to create a model that mimics the most important features of the eye’s structure and functionality. The inventors of the “eye-on-a-chip” have achieved their goal of offering a humane way to test the effects of drugs, chemicals, cosmetics and environmental pollutants on the eye, tests that are currently limited to costly, lengthy and controversial animal experiments.


Xisen Hou
Northwestern University
Invention: Molecularly Encrypted Fluorescent Security Inks
Advisor: J. Fraser Stoddart

Inks of a Smarter Color
There are new inks to outsmart counterfeiters. The fluorescent colors can span the entire rainbow spectrum, are difficult to reverse-engineer and can change color with a light wipe of water. These advanced inks can be invisibly printed on currency, documents and product labels and easily authenticated by a consumer with a smart phone. What’s more, they can be applied with a standard inkjet printer.


Dimitra Emmanouilidou, Ian McLane
Johns Hopkins University
Invention: Programmable Electronic Stethoscope: Improved Lung Sound Analysis
Advisor: James E. West (National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee, 1999)

Easy on the Ears
The stethoscope, that time-honored medical device, is due for an upgrade. This version uses six microphones, like those found in your cell phone, to hear and interpret heart and lung sounds. An additional microphone records external sounds so they can be removed from the analysis, making it much more effective in noisy settings like crowded clinics or ambulances.


Sangyoon Han, Tae Joon Seok
University of California, Berkeley
Invention: SWAPS (Silicon Waveguide Array Photonic Switch)
Advisor: Ming C. Wu

An Energy-Efficient Cloud
While we might be saving trees because the need to print photos and documents has declined, “the cloud” is growing fast and storing and accessing files or websites does consume energy. The SWAPS, a thumb-sized gadget, allows for full use of a data center’s bandwidth capacity by actively re-arranging the network pattern of “the cloud.”

The 2015 final round judges include 10 Inductees from the National Inventors Hall of Fame: Federico Faggin (Microprocessor), Eric R. Fossum (CMOS Active Pixel Image Sensor Camera-on-a-Chip), Marcian (Ted) Hoff (Microprocessor), Donald B. Keck (Optical Fiber), Alois A. Langer (Implantable Defibrillator), C. Kumar N. Patel (Carbon Dioxide Laser), Steven Sasson (Digital Camera), Gary D. Sharp (Polarization-Control Technology), Spencer Silver (Post-it® Notes) and James E. West (Electret Microphone). Additional expert judges include Elizabeth L. Dougherty (USPTO), George Elliott (USPTO), David Chang-Yen (AbbVie) and Jeffrey Y. Pan (AbbVie).

About the Collegiate Inventors Competition:
The Collegiate Inventors Competition recognizes and rewards undergraduate and graduate students who are committed to research, discovery, invention and innovation as they address the problems of today’s world. The Competition specifically recognizes and rewards the innovations, discoveries and research by college university students and their advisors for projects leading to inventions that may have the potential of receiving patent protection. Introduced in 1990, the Competition has awarded more than $1 million to winning students for their innovative work and scientific achievement through the help of its sponsors.


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