2021 Collegiate Inventors Competition honors 5 student teams

Winners have been announced in the 2021 Collegiate Inventors Competition®, an annual event for students and their advisers.

Finalist teams (six undergraduate and six graduate) of 20 students from 13 colleges and universities in the United States presented their inventions in a virtual format to a panel of judges comprised of National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) inductees and USPTO officials.

Established in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition is a program of the NIHF that is sponsored by the USPTO and Arrow Electronics. In addition to cash awards, winning teams can meet with a NIHF inductee for mentorship and advice, and receive a USPTO Patent Acceleration Certificate.

First place ($10,000), undergraduate: EarFlow, Harvard University. Eva Cai (Samir Mitragotri and Aaron Remenschneider, advisers) devised a drug delivery device that is placed on a patient’s eardrum to deliver dexamethasone, a steroid, and ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic, to treat middle ear infections. Placing the device takes less than five minutes in a doctor’s office and does not require general anesthesia.

Graduate: SolarClear, Stony Brook University. Shrish Patel (Alexander Orlov, adviser) provided an improved solar panel cleaning solution at large-scale solar power plants via autonomous waterless cleaning technology that is significantly more effective and efficient than existing technologies.

Runners-up ($5,000), undergraduate: Augment Health Bladder Management System, Georgia Institute of Technology. Stephen Kalinsky and Jared Meyers (Martin Jacobson, adviser) addressed limited bladder sensation with this noninvasive connection between a catheter and catheter valve that monitors the bladder and tells the user when it is full via their smart device. 

Graduate: VirSENSE, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Maha Alafeef (Dipanjan Pan, adviser) created a rapid test for COVID-19 that users can administer entirely at home. Using an electrochemical biosensor paired with an electrical reader, the test screens for active cases and is more than 98 percent accurate.

Arrow Electronics People’s Choice Award ($2,000): Firebot, University of Texas at Austin. Siddharth Thakur (Roland Fields, adviser) created a thermally insulated, wirelessly controlled, obstacle-climbing robot that locates victims without requiring firefighters to enter burning buildings.

More information: invent.org/collegiate-inventors