The future of American innovation was on display November 3rd at the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition held at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, VA.
Cutting-edge inventions created by the nation’s brightest young innovators from colleges and universities across the country — solving challenges from water decontamination to wearable power generation — were showcased at the competition’s public expo, providing the students a forum to answer questions and discuss their inventions with USPTO patent examiners, patent attorneys, trademark examiners and senior officials; corporate sponsors; members of the intellectual property community; and the public.
During the competition, the 29 undergraduate and graduate students from 12 teams all had the opportunity to interact one-on-one with inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF). These legendary innovators — who have invented many tools, processes, or devices that are now commonplace in our lives (optical fiber, implantable defibrillator, Post-it® Notes, digital camera) — served as judges for the competition, and provided advice and inspiration for the students. USPTO officials also served as judges.
The winner in the undergraduate category was a team from University of Iowa, Abraham Espinoza and Matthew Rooda. Their invention, SwineTech, is an audio processing technology that determines if piglets are in distress, allowing farmers to provide a higher quality of life to their livestock.
The graduate winner was Ning Mao from Boston University for Engineered Probiotics. Her priobiotic solution is an affordable and convenient way to provide early detection of cholera and help further contain the spread of the disease.
The top undergraduate and graduate winning teams each received $10,000. Second- and third-place finishers also were awarded cash and prizes. Read more about all the 2017 CIC finalists and winners and hear what they love about inventing.
Through this competition, the skills that these students gained through the process of invention and by learning about intellectual property will be assets to them as they continue with their research or commercialize their inventions.
The Collegiate Inventors Competition is one of several important programs that the USPTO and NIHF offer to young inventors. Others include Invention Playground for preschool children, Camp Invention and Club Invention for elementary school children, and Invention Project for middle school students. Since 1990, NIHF’s education programs have served more than 1.25 million children, and 125,000 teachers and leadership interns — promoting a better understanding of the vital role intellectual property and innovation play in our lives and our economy and helping build entrepreneurial skills for the next generation of inventors.