Collegiate inventors spotlighted

The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting invention and innovation on college and university campuses nationwide, hosted its 16th annual Open Minds showcase of student innovation Thursday, March 22 at the Hub Bay Area in San Francisco. The event, which is supported by The Lemelson Foundation and Silicon Valley Bank, hosted a dozen graduate and undergraduate student teams, who convened to show off their inventions to the public, many for the first time.

Included among the projects and prototypes on display:

  • Stanford University’s Brilliance, whose innovation is a low-cost, low-maintenance device that uses LED bulbs to deliver phototherapy treatment to treat jaundice in infants in India.
  • Two assistive technology wheelchair projects: the Leveraged Freedom Chair, a lever-powered mobility aid for use in developing countries that is made from bicycle components and designed to operate on rough terrain, developed by the Global Resource Innovation and Technology (GRIT), a 501(c)3 organization started at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and IntelliWheels, Inc., a team based at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana working on innovative after-market alterations to wheelchairs that make them easier to operate.
  • The University of California, Berkeley, team NextDrop, which leverages the proliferation of mobile phone technology in India to provide rural households with information about the availability of piped water in their area, saving time and improving access to clean water.
  • The Integrated Punch Biopsy Kit, conceived by a Johns Hopkins University team, which addresses the many problems and complications caused by conventional punch biopsies by decreasing the need for additional instrumentation, reducing the depth of the biopsy, and improving the quality of the sample.
  • The Strong Arm, an elegant form-fitting vest-like lifting aid that makes heavy lifting easier and prevents repetitive stress by keeping the user in the optimal position, developed at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Open Minds is a celebration of the achievements of NCIIA grantees who have successfully competed for early-stage seed funding. Each of the twelve university teams participating in the event are entered into a video competition co-sponsored by Inventor’s Digest magazine. A $1,000 prize will be awarded to the winner live at the Hub event.