College Students Recognized & Rewarded for Their Innovative Work

They receive prizes of $15,000 to $50,000 for technologies that will change

our world

Oct 04, 2004, 01:00 ET from National Inventors Hall of Fame

    AKRON, Ohio, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- At a ceremony held on Saturday, the
 Collegiate Inventors Competition announced its 2004 winners.  This year's
 winners have found ways to improve existing atomic scale microscopes, employ
 early detection systems that could help test for diseases such as Alzheimer's,
 and further an emerging field known as microfluidics.
     An undergraduate winner, a graduate winner, and a grand prizewinner were
 selected from fourteen finalist teams.  Advisors for each winning team were
 also recognized for their contributions.  The 2004 winners are:
     Grand Prize Winner, $50,000
     Ozgur Sahin, Harmonic cantilevers for nanoscale sensing (Nanoscale
 microscope), Stanford University
     Graduate Winner, $25,000
     Jwa-Min Nam & Shad Thaxton,  Bio-bar-code amplified detection systems (Bio
 Barcodes), Northwestern University
     Undergraduate Winner, $15,000
     Wei Gu, Computerized microfluidic control for cell biology using Braille
 display (micro plumbing), University of Michigan
     The winners, along with the other finalists, were all recognized for their
 groundbreaking achievements in front of an audience of educators, National
 Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, and technology leaders.  All of the students
 had submitted their work to the Collegiate Inventors Competition, a program of
 the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
     All fourteen finalist teams made presentations before a final panel of
 eight judges on October 1st and 2nd, which included representatives from the
 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and inductees of the National Inventors Hall
 of Fame.  In total, 120 entries were received for this year's competition from
 universities around the world.  A first round of judges evaluated entries in
 order to select the fourteen finalists.
     Don Keck, a final phase judge and an inductee in the National Inventors
 Hall of Fame for the invention of optical fiber, said, "You won't find a
 better preview of cutting edge technology than in the inventions of this
 year's finalists and winners of the Collegiate Inventors Competition.  These
 students are outstanding innovators.  Young men and women like this will
 provide the kind of creativity needed to make the world a better place for
 future generations, and this competition celebrates their inventiveness."
     Undergraduate winner Wei Gu, 21, has found a way to microscopically
 control small amounts of liquid, for anything from medical purposes to
 chemical analysis.  He has created a simple but robust machine that acts as a
 miniature plumbing system, complete with microscopic pumps, valves, pipes, and
 mixing chambers.  He employs a piece of rubber in which he has made tunnels
 using molding and lithographic techniques, then places it on top of a portable
 Braille display which features small metal pins that rise and fall to create
 Braille letters.  Gu discovered that the small amount of pressure exerted by
 the pins can clamp internal tunnels shut.  By creating a computer program that
 can vary the patterns of applied pressure, his device can pump, mix, and shut
 off flow.  A native of Ann Arbor, Gu is a senior chemical engineering major at
 the University of Michigan.  His advisor, Dr. Shuichi Takayama, receives a
 $5,000 prize.
     Graduate winners Jwa-Min Nam, 30, and Shad Thaxton, 28, of Northwestern
 University have worked to create what they call "bio barcode amplified
 detection systems." The process has a simple goal:  to find miniscule amounts
 of microscopic biological materials.  Because their invention is so much more
 sensitive and precise than previous types of tests, it could be used to detect
 chemical signs of Alzheimer's disease, Mad Cow Disease, or types of cancer far
 earlier than conventional tests. Their advisor on this project is Dr. Chad
 Mirkin, who receives a $5,000 prize.
     Ozgur Sahin, 24, of Stanford University, is the grand prizewinner of the
 2004 competition.  Sahin was still an undergraduate when he first thought
 about the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), an instrument capable of taking
 pictures of individual atoms and used by a wide range of researchers, from
 people designing cutting-edge computer chips to biologists trying to learn the
 inner workings of cells.  Sahin thought about making the AFM probe vibrate in
 a harmonic, and realized he could provide depth and richness to the pictures
 taken with the AFM.  He made the work the basis of his graduate studies, and
 his improved microscope is especially useful for examining molecule-sized
 pieces of biological samples, giving medical researchers a powerful new way to
 study biological processes.  His advisor for his work is Dr. Olav Solgaard,
 who receives $10,000.
     The Collegiate Inventors Competition is an international competition
 designed to encourage college students to be active in science, engineering,
 mathematics, technology, and creative invention.  This prestigious challenge
 recognizes and rewards the innovations, discoveries, and research by college
 and university students and their advisors for projects leading to inventions
 that can be patented.  Introduced by the National Inventors Hall of Fame in
 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition has annually rewarded individuals
 or teams for their innovative work and scientific achievement.  For more
 information on past winners and this year's finalists,
 visit .
     The National Inventors Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit organization
 dedicated to recognizing, honoring, and encouraging invention and creativity.
 A primary activity of the Hall of Fame is honoring the men and women
 responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social, and
 economic progress possible.  In addition to the Collegiate Inventors
 Competition, another popular program of the Hall of Fame is Camp Invention(R),
 a summer day camp for elementary-aged children.  For more information,
 visit .

SOURCE National Inventors Hall of Fame