CENTER VALLEY, Pa., Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Olympus, a precision technology leader creating innovative opto-digital solutions in healthcare, life science and consumer electronics products, today announced the Olympus Innovation Award Program for 2008. The national program, executed by Olympus in partnership with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), recognizes individuals who have fostered or demonstrated innovative thinking in education. The awards will be given to faculty nominees chosen from among the nearly 200 member institutions of NCIIA, a national alliance of colleges and universities fostering invention, innovation and entrepreneurship in U.S. higher education. Olympus will present the awards at the NCIIA's 12th Annual Meeting in Dallas on March 21, 2008. "Innovation is at the core of every new technology we have pioneered at Olympus," stated F. Mark Gumz, president and chief operating officer of Olympus America Inc. "For this reason, we understand the importance of encouraging and rewarding the curiosity that promotes innovative thinking. The Olympus Innovation Award Program with the NCIIA is designed to recognize innovation in U.S. academia to foster tomorrow's pioneering business leaders." The Olympus Innovation Award Program, now in its fourth year, represents Olympus' ongoing commitment to technological innovation and education. The program includes three awards, the Olympus Innovation Award, the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award and the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award. The Olympus Innovation Award recognizes a faculty member who fosters an environment of innovative thinking among students through inventive teaching methods and hands-on educational opportunities. Nominations will demonstrate how candidates' methods and philosophies have inspired students, and detail the resulting student innovations. The winner will receive a $10,000 prize award. The Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated a sustained contribution throughout his or her career to stimulating and inspiring innovative thinking in students in their own universities and throughout academia. The winner will receive a $2,500 prize award. The Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award, whose winner will receive a $1,000 prize, recognizes an individual who has inspired innovative thinking in students in a discrete area and who, the judges believe, has the potential to make even greater contributions to the field in the future. "The Olympus Innovation Award Program has recognized excellence in curricular innovation and high impact teaching methods that foster innovative thinking," said Phil Weilerstein, executive director, NCIIA, based in Hadley, Mass. "We are delighted to continue building the partnership between the NCIIA and Olympus." Judges for all three awards will include David E. Barlow, Ph.D., Vice President of Research & Development for Medical Systems at Olympus America; Phil Weilerstein, NCIIA; Dr. Abigail Barrow, founding director, Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center, and Dr. Arthur A. Boni, deputy director and John R. Thorne professor, Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon University. Olympus and the NCIIA are soliciting nominations for the awards beginning immediately. Students, faculty, and others at NCIIA institutions of higher learning in the U.S. may nominate qualified educators by logging in at http://www.nciia.org/login until November 16, 2007. For more information about the Olympus Innovation Award Program, contact the NCIIA at email@example.com, or visit www.nciia.org. ABOUT OLYMPUS Olympus is a precision technology leader, creating innovative opto-digital solutions in healthcare, life science and consumer electronics products. Olympus works collaboratively with its customers and its affiliates worldwide to leverage R&D investment in precision technology and manufacturing processes across diverse business lines. These include: -- Gastrointestinal endoscopes, accessories, and minimally invasive surgical products; -- Advanced clinical and research microscopes; -- Lab automation systems, chemistry-immuno and blood bank analyzers and reagents; -- Digital cameras and voice recorders. Olympus serves healthcare and commercial laboratory markets with integrated product solutions and financial, educational and consulting services that help customers to efficiently, reliably and more easily achieve exceptional results. Olympus develops breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality for the consumer and professional photography markets, and also is the leader in gastrointestinal endoscopy and clinical and educational microscopes. For more information, visit www.olympusamerica.com. ABOUT NCIIA The NCIIA was established in 1995 with support from The Lemelson Foundation. Its mission is to foster invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship in higher education - components of the higher education curriculum that are vital to the nation's economic future. The NCIIA accomplishes its goals by supporting curricula and programs that encourage the development and the work of E-Teams - multidisciplinary teams of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to take an idea for a technological innovation and bring it through prototype development to commercialization. The "E" stands for excellence and entrepreneurship.