Sustainable Student Innovations To Visit The Smithsonian

Mar 21, 2013, 09:00 ET from National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)

The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance hosts Open Minds, a collegiate invention showcase featuring sustainable, emerging market and biomedical solutions

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WASHINGTON, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) will host its seventeenth annual Open Minds showcase of student invention and innovation in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 23, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. EDT at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, first floor. The public event, held in partnership with the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, will exhibit the NCIIA-supported innovations of thirteen student teams from some of the most prestigious colleges and universities across the country.

"Our goal is to support student teams of emerging innovators to create technology solutions that can both achieve commercial success and improve lives globally," said Phil Weilerstein, Executive Director at the NCIIA.

The Open Minds teams have applied innovative technology to solve real-world problems, and some of the prototypes visitors can expect to see include:

  • HESE Affordable Greenhouses, a radically affordable, easily constructed greenhouse that expands income opportunities and offers links to markets for small-scale farmers in East Africa (Pennsylvania State University).
  • MAID (Magnetically Assisted Intubation Device), a medical device that simplifies the intubation procedure by using magnets to improve patient outcomes by safely guiding the endotracheal tube into the trachea (Georgia Institute of Technology).
  • mSurvey, a platform for using text-messaging technology to empower communities by enabling the efficient collection of community data in developing countries via mobile phones (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
  • MaxQ LLC, lightweight, insulated shipping containers that enable critical vaccines to reach more remote areas (Oklahoma State University).
  • Sanergy, a micro-franchised network of low-cost sanitation centers designed to create safe, energy-efficient solutions in urban slums (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Additionally, these five teams will also be featured in an online video competition prior to the event at: The video competition allows teams to market their innovations publicly up to and beyond the Open Minds exhibition.  The team whose video earns the most public votes will be awarded $1,500 and recognized on Friday, March 22.

Open Annual Conference
The Open Minds showcase is part of Open, the NCIIA's annual conference on technology entrepreneurship in higher education, which brings together students, faculty members, business leaders and investors to share best practices, lessons learned, ideas and inspiration each year. The conference is being held in Washington, D.C., March 21-23, with a preconference workshop for university faculty building programs around technology invention and innovation for poverty alleviation.

For the first time, the NCIIA plans to present the Sustainable Practice Impact Award, in partnership with The Lemelson Foundation, recognizing companies or an individual who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in developing clean technologies; implementing sustainable practices in their businesses; or providing exceptional education opportunities to university students. Winners will be awarded $10,000.

Renowned reporter and author, Mark Hertsgaard, will offer the conference keynote on Saturday evening, March 23. He will discuss how innovative solutions to climate change enable society to "avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable." 

About the NCIIA
The NCIIA catalyzes positive social and environmental impact through invention and technological innovation by providing funding, training and mentoring for university faculty and student innovators. With support from The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the US Agency for International Development and a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages approximately 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their campuses as working laboratories for invention and innovation and incubators for businesses, and ultimately helping them to bring their ideas to market. For more information, visit

About the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
The Smithsonian Lemelson Center's activities advance scholarship on the history of invention, share stories about inventors and their work and nurture creativity in young people. The center embodies a philosophy akin to that of the inventors we study, of valuing creativity and embracing the potential rewards of intellectual risk-taking. The center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country's most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Center is located in the National Museum of American History. For more information, visit

About The Lemelson Foundation
Founded in 1992 by prolific US inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy, The Lemelson Foundation works to inspire and enable the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises in order to build a stronger US economy and create social and economic change for the poor in developing countries. For more information, visit

Carrie Barnes
ELISE communications
(215) 239-4643

SOURCE National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)