One of this year’s innovations by Ryerson University, the AMO, or artificial muscle-operated arm, is a prosthetic device that is powered by compressed air and controlled by EEG signals from the brain.
For many less ambitious students, college is merely a time to socialize and take life easy—a chance to relax for a few years. For others, such as the student teams at the 2011 Innovation Showcase (IShow), held June 11 in Dallas, TX, it is a time to get started on the work of making the world a better place, by designing and prototyping world-altering advances in engineering.
To these industrious students, the IShow is a golden opportunity to showcase their designs, and provides high-profile exposure that their concepts might not otherwise receive. However, with cash awards of $10,000, $5,000, and $3,000 going to the top three finishers, the competition provides something even more important: seed money to help make their ideas reality.
In It to Win
Brandon Doan, Team Hemova, winner of the 2011 IShow $10,000 prize.
Prior to the show, members of second place finisher Team Zikomo (Rice University) talked about how much winning one of the prizes would mean to the development of their device, the NeoSyP, a novel mechanical syringe pump targeted for neonatal care in the developing world. "This is the largest event we've actually competed in, so [winning] would mean a lot," said Yiwin Cui. "Like most teams, we have continuing plans for our work."
Teammate Clare Ouyang agreed. "It [the IShow] gives us a name boost that would be extremely helpful in furthering our product and our company."
From left, Zikomo team members Elizabeth Carstens, Yiwin Cui, Clare Ouyang, Cynthia Sung; with Bob Simmons, ASME President. Team Zikomo took home the $5,000 prize.
Still, the competition at IShow is fierce, as devices such as the NeoSyP were pitted against other ingenious innovations such as a thought-powered prosthetic arm called the AMO; a super-sensitive chemical detection robot called the SniffBot; and the winner of the $3,000 prize, a device designed to make blood transfusions in the developing world safer and more sterile, by DIIME
(University of Michigan).
In the end, the $10,000 prize went to Hemova (Johns Hopkins University), developers of a fully implantable kidney dialysis system that will help patients avoid stenosis and infection, currently the leading causes of device failure, and save countless lives.
Winners of the $3,000 prize, Team DIIME, with ASME President Bob Simmons (far right).
Afterward, team leader Brandon Doan was brimming with excitement over the award. "We're really honored to take home this prize," he said. "This means a lot to us because we're getting a little low in terms of funding. This goes a huge way in terms of fueling the money we get in for buying our sheep, performing our sheep trial studies, and buying equipment."
However, he echoed the sentiments of others in noting the immeasurable advantage of being an IShow winner when it comes time to meet with potential business partners. "The recognition from something like this is going to give us a great amount of clout when we talk to investors," he said.
Keep on Truckin'
In a day full of eloquent presentations and insightful speeches, outgoing ASME President Bob Simmons may have summed up the event best when he noted, "Although there are only three prizes awarded today, I can truthfully say that you are all winners." However, he may have been even more prescient than he imagined when he playfully added, "Keep on truckin'."
For this is merely the first of many steps for these young innovators, the first stage in making their brilliant concepts reality and giving the world we all live in a better future. The business side of the field awaits them all in the form of investors and venture capitalists, and it will take a great deal of hard work to bring their designs to market. They will undoubtedly need to keep driving forward through obstacles and adversity as they see their engineering dreams through to fruition.
Click here for information on the 2013 IShow.
The recognition from something like this is going to give us a great amount of clout when we talk to investors.
Brandon Doan, Johns Hopkins University, 2011 IShow Winner
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