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The Next Great Idea! Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Announces Winners of Fall 2017 Change the World Challenge Student Innovation Competition



An autonomous robotic painting system, an intuitive smart desk, a platform that facilitates peer-to-peer renewable energy sales, and a compact nuclear detector are the winning ideas from the entries in the fall 2017 Change the World Challenge at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The Change the World Challenge competition is a twice-yearly event created to support entrepreneurship education and inspire Rensselaer students to develop their unique ideas into a viable business concept. This semester, the winning students and student teams who develop innovative ideas and inventions will each receive a prize of $1,000. Patent application assistance is also available for the winning student proposals when applicable.

“Rensselaer brings a focused effort to promote entrepreneurial skills and resources throughout the campus ecosystem,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School of Management. “We are very appreciative of the generosity of Sean O’Sullivan, who has made the Change the World Challenge a hallmark competition for students to develop and grow extraordinary entrepreneurial ideas and solutions.”

Established in 2005 by Rensselaer alumnus and entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan ’85, the Change the World Challenge competition has helped to validate more than 150 new student ideas. The competition is overseen by the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship in the Rensselaer Lally School of Management. Students involved in the competition develop ideas that have the potential to improve human life through innovative and sustainable solutions.

“We congratulate these fantastic winning teams and their commitment to working to change the world through entrepreneurship,” said Jason Kuruzovich, academic director of the Severino Center. “They are a true reflection of the passion and determination Rensselaer students bring to the application of new technologies to solve market problems.”

The winning ideas for the fall 2017 competition cover a variety of innovative devices, processes, and technologies:

Thin Air Industries created The Perfect Painter, an autonomous robotic painting system for residential and commercial applications. The rentable system will allow users who don’t have the ability to paint their own space, those who dislike painting, or are not interested in hiring a professional, to complete the project themselves. Created by Daniel Lannan ’18, Electrical Engineering.

Smart Desk is a desk-like surface that enhances group meeting productivity using smart sharing technology and easy remote desktop access. Created by Amir Begovic ’18, Electrical Engineering; Mohamed Elsaid ’18, Mechanical Engineering; and Youssef Elasser ’18, Electrical Engineering.

Storagy is a platform that facilitates peer-to-peer renewable energy sales informing users when to store their excess production and when to sell. The platform can also tackle the peak demand issues being faced by utility companies today by utilizing locally produced energy to help source the renewable energy requirements in any given area. Created by Colin Danahy ’18, M.S. in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.

Compact Real-Time Nuclear Detector is a device that can bring peace of mind to people with concerns of nuclear terror attacks by providing increased preparedness, detection, and counteraction at an individual level. Current detection methods are bulky and limiting, while this technology is compact and delivers real-time results. Created by Christopher Lore ’18, Geology, and Madison Wyatt ’18, Applied Math and Physics.

Honorable mention goes to team Hive-Mind Search and Rescue Robots, which uses networked mini-quadcopters to assist in search and rescue operations evaluating terrain and relaying data to a central computer.

The exciting outcomes from the Change the World Challenge are a reflection of The New Polytechnic, an emerging paradigm for teaching, learning, and research at Rensselaer. The New Polytechnic emphasizes and supports collaboration across disciplines, sectors, and regions to address the great global challenges of our day, using the most advanced tools and technologies, many of which are developed at Rensselaer. Research at Rensselaer addresses some of the world’s most pressing technological challenges—from energy security and sustainable development to biotechnology and human health. The New Polytechnic is transformative in the global impact of research, in its innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of students at Rensselaer.

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