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Rewarding Ideas

Photo by Kris Qua
Four student ideas were recognized as the winners of the fall 2006 “Change the World Challenge” idea competition during a celebratory breakfast held on Jan. 24 in the Heffner Alumni House. Created in 2005 by Rensselaer alumnus Sean O’Sullivan ’85, the competition is intended to support entrepreneurship education and inspire ideas to improve the human condition by providing a $1,000 cash award for ideas that will make the world a better place.

Each semester, students select a topic from a list of challenges to use science and/or engineering to improve human life, and offer an innovative and sustainable solution to that challenge. Examples of the challenges include decreasing a nation’s energy use, increasing energy generation, and improving the water conservation, purification, and recycling efforts in underdeveloped countries. Submissions are judged on both novelty and sensibility, and up to 10 entries each semester are selected to receive an award.

Winning ideas from the fall 2006 competition are: an invention that uses reverse osmosis to remove viruses, bacteria, and hard metals from the water in the Amazon, developed by freshman engineering students Michael Chung-Hua Doo, Alexandra Lamparski, Christopher Byung Min, and Oliver Williams; a plan to use a naturally occurring, inert, and plentiful mineral as a source of household insulation for heating and cooling, devised by senior science and technology studies major Eben Dutcher Bayer; a water purification device that boils bacteria-laden water while simultaneously cooling already purified water, developed by junior mechanical engineering major Samuel Harrington; and a proposal to create a form of refrigeration independent of electricity to help preserve food and medicines in Third World countries, created by freshman engineering students Andrew Cunningham and Adam Kell.

“Through his generosity, vision, and personal examples, Sean O’Sullivan has inspired the next generation of scholars to apply their skills for the good of mankind, and to become socially responsible entrepreneurs,” said Robert Chernow, vice provost for entrepreneurship.

“I applaud this group of winners for their innovative ideas and inventions — they truly embody Rensselaer’s ‘Why not change the world?’ attitude.”

These winners also received the funding necessary to secure provisional patents for their ideas.

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