Weather Forecasting Technique Wins Top Prize in 2006 Collegiate Inventors Competition(R)

Student innovators receive cash prizes for their novel projects

Oct 19, 2006, 01:00 ET from National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation

    ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A new way of forecasting the
 weather has earned the top honor in the Collegiate Inventors Competition,
 an annual program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation.
 Matthew Haugland of the University of Oklahoma conducted research based on
 weather observations in microclimates to create his method. He was
 announced as the grand prize winner of the Competition, receiving a $25,000
     This year's winners also include Craig Hashi and YiQian Zhu of the
 University of California, Berkeley in the graduate category for their
 tissue- engineered vascular graft, and Fan Yang of Johns Hopkins University
 in the undergraduate category for her work with anti-adherent compounds for
 contact lenses. Hashi and Zhu receive a $15,000 prize, and Yang receives a
 $10,000 prize. The 2006 Competition is sponsored by the Abbott Fund and the
 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
     This year's winners were announced during a Thursday evening awards
 ceremony at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They were recognized for
 their cutting edge achievements, along with the other finalists in the
 competition, in front of an audience of National Inventors Hall of Fame
 inductees, technology leaders, and educators. Students' advisors are also
 recognized with a $3,000 prize.
     Marcian (Ted) Hoff, a final phase judge and an inductee in the National
 Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the microprocessor, said,
 "We're impressed by the high caliber student inventions that we reviewed,
 and we look forward to seeing these inventions put to use in the near
 future. I know that all the judges join me in congratulating all of the
 students for their innovative work."
     Eleven finalists endured rigorous scrutiny during an initial evaluation
 process that judged their entries on the originality of the idea, process
 or technology, and the potential value and usefulness of their invention to
 society. The finalists presented their inventions on October 18th to a
 final panel of seven judges comprised of technology experts, some of whom
 are inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
     "Science is about individuals looking at information and having that
 'light bulb' moment where they see something nobody else saw as a new
 solution to a problem, which is exactly what these students have done,"
 said Bruce Beutel, Ph.D., Target and Lead Discovery, Abbott, the global
 research-based healthcare company. Dr. Beutel was a final round judge for
 the competition. "Abbott is proud to support the Collegiate Inventors
 Competition to encourage the next generation of scientists and innovators
 to come forward with the creativity that will solve problems which affect
     "Inventive talent and creativity thrive in America's universities,"
 noted Jon Dudas, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.
 "The young men and women recognized today have begun what I hope will be a
 life-long adventure into discovering new and better ways to improve the
 world in which we live."
     Grand prize winner Matthew Haugland, 26, has been fascinated by weather
 prediction and microclimates from the time he was a youngster. Especially
 as he grew up in the San Francisco Bay region, he was intrigued by the
 existing microclimates and the reasons behind them. Originally enrolled at
 San Jose State University, Haugland was interested in purchasing land where
 he could conduct his weather observations. Unable to afford land in
 northern California, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma and
 purchased five acres where he could install weather stations to monitor the
 environment. Through his research, based on weather observations from these
 stations, Haugland developed a weather forecasting technique that uses
 standard topographic maps and existing weather stations to more accurately
 predict nighttime temperatures. The implications of his work are broad,
 from helping to predict nighttime fog formation, a major weather-related
 cause of death in transportation, to helping farmers protect crops from
 frost and freezing. Haugland's work is especially significant in
 agriculture where frost damage is the largest weather-related cause of
 damage to crops. He has already received international attention for his
 work and is hoping to run a successful business focused on microclimates
 and microscale weather forecasting. At the University of Oklahoma, Haugland
 received his bachelors degree in 2001, his masters degree in 2002, and his
 Ph.D. in May of 2006.
     Graduate winners Craig Hashi, 24, and YiQian Zhu, 31, have been
 recognized for their invention of a tissue-engineered vascular graft. Their
 research shows that they can create small bioengineered blood vessels.
 Knowing that grafts from a patient's body and synthetic grafts can have
 their limitations, the team experimented with a new kind of graft. Using a
 polymer, they create long, thin strands which they form into a thin mat.
 Then, they seed the mat with bone marrow stem cells and allow them to
 culture. The mat is manipulated into a tube shape which can be implanted as
 a vascular graft. Once implanted, the polymer dissolves and leaves a
 fully-functioning blood vessel. Chances of rejection are greatly reduced
 because the patient's own cells could be used to create the graft. Hashi,
 originally from Torrance, California, received his undergraduate degree in
 mechanical engineering from UCLA and is currently working on his Ph.D. in
 bioengineering at Berkeley. Zhu graduated from Fudan University Medical
 School in China and is also in Berkeley's Ph.D. bioengineering program.
     Fan Yang, 18, is the undergraduate winner for her work with
 anti-adherent compounds for contact lenses. Seventy million people around
 the world wear contact lenses and contracting lens-induced infections is
 not uncommon. Yang's goal is to prevent infection-causing bacteria from
 adhering to contact lenses. It was while Yang was just in the eighth grade
 that she began thinking of her invention. While interning in a lab, she was
 looking for compounds that could adhere to bacteria. She was interested to
 discover that some compounds did not adhere. Later, in high school, after a
 visit to her optometrist, Yang was discouraged from wearing contact lenses
 because of the possible risk of infection. Her experiences led her to focus
 on her current anti-adherent project, looking not just at practical
 applications for contact lenses, but also investigating broader
 applications with medical implants in general. Yang has been a resident of
 Davis, California since she was ten years old. She is currently a sophomore
 studying biomaterial and nanomaterial engineering at Johns Hopkins
     The Collegiate Inventors Competition encourages 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 Hall of Fame in 1990, the Competition has annually
 rewarded individuals or teams for their innovative work and scientific
 achievement. For more information on the Competition, visit For more information on the National Inventors
 Hall of Fame Foundation, visit
     The Abbott Fund is a not-for-profit, philanthropic foundation
 established by Abbott. For over 200 years, the basic role of the USPTO has
 remained the same: to promote the progress of science. Through the issuance
 of patents, the USPTO encourages technological advancement by providing
 incentives to invent, invest in, and disclose new technology worldwide.
 Through the registration of trademarks, the agency assists businesses in
 protecting their investments, promoting goods and services, and
 safeguarding consumers against confusion and deception in the marketplace.
 By disseminating both patent and trademark information, the USPTO promotes
 an understanding of intellectual property protection and facilitates the
 development and sharing of new technologies worldwide.

SOURCE National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation