Sometimes, when events like those of the past week rattle one’s belief in the good of humanity, it is nice to be reminded that there are smart, talented young people out there working to make the world a better place. This was the sentiment with which TV guy Mo Rocca ended his remarks as he presented the awards for the 2015 Collegiate Inventors Competition on Tuesday evening.
The afternoon event began with an expo at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, during which all competitors presented their inventions to attendees. Then, at 5 p.m., 16 undergraduate and 11 graduate students gathered, with a crowed of judges and supporters to hear which inventions would win the top cash prizes.
Here’s who came out on top:
Graduate gold medal: The gold medal at the graduate level, worth $15,000, was awarded to David Kolesky, a student at Harvard University, for his invention of 3D printing of vascularized human tissue. While Kolesky admitted to Technical.ly that there is a lot of work being done in the area of 3D bioprinting (see Philly’s BioBots, for example), he said the combination of printing both working vasculature and human tissue is unique.
Graduate silver medal: The second place award in the graduate category, and $12,500, was awarded to Stafford Sheehan, a student at Yale University. The invention? Corrosion-resistant molecular coatings.
Graduate bronze medal: Third place and $10,000 was awarded to Sangyoon Han and Tae Joon Seok, a team from the University of California, Berkeley. The duo has created an energy-efficient cloud — a gadget that, according to the description, “allows for full use of a data center’s bandwidth capacity by actively re-arranging the network pattern of ‘the cloud.'”
Undergraduate gold medal: The top prize in the undergraduate category, and $12,500, was awarded to Joseph Barnett and Stephen John from Western Michigan University. Drawing on their experiences volunteering in hospitals in the developing world, the young inventors have created an adaptor that gives even a low-tech infant respiratory device some of the additional benefits of a ventilator.
Undergraduate silver medal: $10,000 in prize money and second place went to Neil Davey from Harvard. Davey has created a mechanism for early cancer detection — his technology uses a blood sample to detect and isolate tumor cells.
Undergraduate bronze medal: Third place, and $7,500, went to Katherine Jin, Jason Kang and Kevin Tyan, all of whom are students at Columbia University. Their invention is a powdered additive for disinfectants. Jin told Technical.ly that disinfectants like bleach have several fatal flaws, one being that the liquid is clear. So when you’re trying to disinfect a surface, it can be hard to determine whether you’ve covered the whole thing in liquid. Enter Highlight — the invention that “visualizes” decontamination by using a dye that shows where the liquid has been sprayed, and then fades after the virus has been killed (a timeframe of 10 minutes for most viruses).