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Student Teams' Cutting-Edge Innovations

Posted: 30th October 2020 12:03

A glimpse into the future of American innovation and emerging technological trends from the nation's brightest young innovators — from bioadhesives to cancer treatments — were recognized and honored this week at the 2020 Collegiate Inventors Competition®, an annual competition for college and university students and their advisers.

Finalist teams (five Undergraduate and five Graduate), consisting of 24 students from nine colleges and universities across the United States, presented their inventions in a virtual format to an esteemed panel of final-round judges composed of the most influential inventors and innovation experts in the nation — National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductees and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) officials.

"Global crises and challenges don't stop innovation — they accelerate it," said NIHF CEO Michael Oister. "We are proud to recognize these young inventors who demonstrate the Innovation Mindset that empowers them to think big and solve the world's greatest problems."

Established in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition is a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is sponsored by the USPTO and Arrow Electronics (Arrow Electronics People's Choice Award). In addition to cash awards, the winning teams also receive an opportunity to meet with a NIHF Inductee for mentorship and advice.


Universally Friendly Obturator (UFO), Rice University
Team Members: Elisa Arango, Susannah Dittmar, Lauren Payne, Sanika Rane; Advisers: Alexander Hanania, Michelle Ludwig, Matthew Wettergreen
Greater Access to Life-Saving Care: Cervical cancer disproportionately affects low-income countries where cases progress to later stages, contributing to over 300,000 deaths globally each year. Brachytherapy, a type of radiation therapy, is the only curative treatment for late-stage cases but is infrequently used due to its complexity. The Universally Friendly Obturator (UFO) addresses this challenge by providing a customizable device that simplifies the procedure and lowers patient morbidity — making this life-saving treatment more accessible to women worldwide, regardless of their economic status.

SanaHeal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Team Member: Hyunwoo Yuk; Adviser: Xuanhe Zhao
A Stronger Seal for Surgical Success: During surgery, tissue adhesives are regularly used to support suture or staple lines. However, current adhesives are ineffective to seal wet tissues, do not provide rapid, strong adhesion, and often lack a stable and long-term sealing capacity. The SanaHeal bioadhesive is a dry strip of tape that has the unique ability to bind wet tissues together and can potentially replace the staples or sutures used to close surgical sites following an operation and provide healthier healing.


Dyad Syringe, Stetson University
Team Member: Bryson Pritchard; Adviser: Lou Paris
An All-in-One IV Solution: Administering intravenous (IV) medications is a common practice in hospitals and emergency rooms around the world. However, when multiple medicines need to be applied through an IV, sanitation and replacement of the syringe is required. The Dyad Syringe streamlines this process by providing two chambers: An empty one for the medication and a bottom chamber containing a saline solution. A punching device is used to puncture the latter chamber, thereby sanitizing the catheter. This innovative design is the first syringe that allows the administration of medication and sanitation of the device in a single action — both saving time and decreasing the chance for infection.

Hearo, Johns Hopkins University
Team Members: Adebayo Eisape, Ian McLane, Valerie Rennoll; Advisers: Mounya Elhilali, Jim West
Making Clear Sound Capture Possible: When captured, acoustic waves can provide valuable information beyond what the ear detects, supporting efforts from structural monitoring to gathering details about a person's health. The Hearo is a self-powered, flexible electrostatic transducer that can be tuned and optimized to minimize differences in acoustic impedance and attenuation. Due to its ability to be tuned to closely match the mechanical properties of the medium it is recording, this device enables significantly higher-quality acoustic recordings and communications, even in noisy environments.


TrachTech, Tulane University (Undergraduate Team)
Team Members: Morgan Bohrer, Stephen Hahn, Michael L'Ecuyer, Alex Verne; Adviser: Mark Mondrinos
Restoring Airways: With ventilators in high demand due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it's essential that these machines remain clean and safe. However, in at least 84% of intubation tubes biofilm buildup occurs, restricting airflow and increasing the likelihood that patients will develop ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). TrachTech developed a specialized, novel device to clean intubation tubes without the risk of extubation. It is specifically designed to efficiently remove biofilms and debris from the tubes and maintain continued airflow from ventilators during the cleaning process.

About the Collegiate Inventors Competition

The Collegiate Inventors Competition encourages and drives innovation and entrepreneurship at the collegiate level. A program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, this competition recognizes and rewards the research, innovations and discoveries by college students and their advisers for projects leading to inventions that have the potential of receiving patent protection. Introduced in 1990, the competition has awarded more than $1 million to students for their innovative work and scientific achievement through the help of its sponsors. For more information, visit

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