Student Teams of STEM Entrepreneurs win $47,500 in prizes at Global Innovation Conference

Creators of forward-thinking products and business plans named 2014 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge winners

Apr 09, 2014, 12:27 ET from Conrad Foundation

HOUSTON, April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Four teams of high school students from North Carolina and Ohio received top honors at the Conrad Foundation 2014 Innovation Summit, presented by Lockheed Martin. The Summit is the final competition round for the 2013-2014 Spirit of Innovation Challenge. Products and services, such as a new cybersecurity program that defends against web bots and a specialized glove to reduce essential hand tremors, earned winning teams more than $47,500 in awards.

The annual business and technical plan competition challenges teams of students ages 13-18 to combine innovation and entrepreneurship, along with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), to create commercially-viable products to benefit humanity and support global sustainability.

This year, 20 finalist teams were selected from a pool of more than 385 entries from around the world to attend the April 6-8 event hosted at Space Center Houston. For a full listing of finalist products, visit

The finalist teams pitched their ideas "Lean Startup" style before an esteemed panel of judges consisting of industry experts, leading entrepreneurs, government officials and world-renowned scientists. The judges critiqued each team's product based on commercial viability, scientific soundness and its potential to support global sustainability.

The following four teams were named this year's Pete Conrad Scholars in honor of Apollo 12 astronaut, Charles "Pete" Conrad, and his three-decade pursuit of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Aerospace and Aviation
Team nCssM from Durham, NC, earned recognition for their wastewater reclamation system for long-duration space exploration.

Cybertechnology and Security
Team PuzzleBot from Durham, NC, earned recognition for their online security program that replaces CAPTCHAs with a puzzle which is web bot hack resistant.

Energy and Environment
Team WaSOR from Chapel Hill, NC, earned recognition for their avant-garde oil-spill cleaning device.

Health and Nutrition
Team Tremor X from Columbus, OH, earned recognition for their glove design which significantly reduces essential hand tremors.

"These teams are an outstanding example of the capabilities of this innovation generation," said Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation. "Each year, we are awed by the ingenuity and passion students bring to the design process, the quality of their innovations. We are honored to be a part of helping bring their solutions to market."

Each winning team received an innovation grant of $10,000 to continue product development and a one-year affiliate membership to Sigma Xi. All teams competing as finalists are eligible to participate in the Brain Trust, a mentoring program designed to assist teams in the practical development of their product.

To promote the importance of patent protection to the innovation cycle, the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation will provide one finalist team with a $5,000 grant to offset patent filing fees. Two teams will also receive $1,250 each from the Creative Artists Agency to go toward their business development plans.

In addition, the Nancy Conrad Innovative Teacher of the Year award was given to Dr. Myra Halpin, coach to an unprecedented six 2014 finalist teams and a long-time participant in the Conrad Challenge. Halpin received the honor for being an outstanding advocate for STEM education and an innovator in the classroom. She is a chemistry teacher at the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC. Halpin received a cash award and her school will display for one year, a custom-designed bronze trophy by sculptor Erik Lindbergh, grandson of famous aviator Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh.

As participants of the Innovation Summit, students received a personal message from International Space Station Expedition 39 crew members Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA astronaut and flight engineer Rick Mastracchio. Students also participated in Fireside Chats with business leaders, inventors, explorers and aerospace experts.

The 2013-2014 Spirit of Innovation Challenge is made possible by Lockheed Martin, as well as BattellePepsiCo, Air Liquide, Mondelez International and other supporting sponsors.

To learn more about the Conrad Foundation, or how you can support its through service or financial contributions, please visit

About The Conrad Foundation
The Conrad Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to transforming the current methods of teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in high schools. The Spirit of Innovation program is free to all who wish to participate and reaches all socio-economic levels. The Foundation is the only organization of its kind to combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship to inspire solutions for achieving global sustainability. For more information, visit

Carrie Taylor, Education & Outreach Director
Conrad Foundation
832-864-7223; carrie.taylor (at)

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SOURCE Conrad Foundation