Winners Announced for Spring 2015 and “Best of the Best” in the Change the World Challenge; Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Award winners also announced
Troy, N.Y. — Extraordinary achievements in student innovation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute were recognized recently with several hallmark entrepreneurship awards—the 10 winning ideas for spring 2015 and the overall “Best of the Best” in the Change the World Challenge, and the Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Award.
The Change the World Challenge competition is a twice-yearly event for Rensselaer students created to support entrepreneurship education and inspire Rensselaer students to consider ways to improve the human condition. Each semester a $10,000 prize is shared by the winning students and student teams who develop innovative ideas and inventions.
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.
“When Rensselaer students work together across academic disciplines, they transform their ideas into innovative products and services,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School of Management. “We are grateful to Sean O’Sullivan ’85 in making this competition available to our students each year and expanding their experiences to include endeavors for social and global impact.”
The competition is overseen by the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship in the Lally School of Management.
“The Change the World Challenge program has allowed us to identify and encourage students looking to make an impact on the world through entrepreneurship,” said Jason Kuruzovich, faculty director of the Severino Center. “While taking part in the intensive six-week program, students perform extensive customer discovery while receiving coaching and engaging actively in the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Rensselaer.”
The winning ideas for the spring 2015 Change the World Challenge ($10,000 prize shared by winning teams) are:
A Brave New Educational Model is an experiential-based approach to classroom learning by leveraging the field of virtual reality software to develop environments for both visual and physical interaction with information. Created by Antony Giunta ’15, Mechanical Engineering; Matthew Jahnes ’17, Electrical Engineering; Tommy Fang ’17, Computer Science/Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences; and John Rollinson ’17, Electrical Engineering.
Ilium VR is an inertial-visual system for accurately tracking items such as guns and tools in a player’s 3-D world. This system could be applied to gaming, military/police training, and recruiting efforts. Created by Jazmine Olinger ’16, Computer Science/Mathematics; Sebastian Sarbora ’16, Computer Science; and Robert Rouhani ’16, Computer Science. Ilium VR recently placed third in the 2015 Rensselaer Business Model Competition.
IntraBlue applies current medical industry technology to increase combustion engine efficiency and reduce harmful emission output. Created by Keegan Lombard ’16, Business and Management; Michiel Stultiens ’15, Accounting; Ian He ’16, MBA and M.S. in Technology, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship; Tan Yuan Song ’16, Finance; and Evan Perreault ’15, Mechanical Engineering.
KIMTEX uses Black Silicon composite, a potent bactericidal agent, in markets like the mobile device industry to reduce harmful bacteria on everyday surfaces. Created by Hyung Joo Kim ’16, Mechanical Engineering.
Learn Blitz is a platform that can serve many learning niches by using spaced repetition learning (SRL) that breaks concepts down into multimedia flash cards and optimizes their order and review times to improve memorization. Created by Christopher Morrison ’17, Ph.D. candidate in Nuclear Engineering.
Branch Band is a wearable device that uses an intuitive networking system to passively connect with other users in a geographic location, ultimately eliminating the exchange of business cards. Created by Jason Bernotsky ’15, Design, Innovation, and Society/Mechanical Engineering.
Dyad is a mobile application that addresses the human need for love and belonging by promoting meaningful conversations that are psychologically designed to strengthen relationships. Created by Devon Bernard ’16, Computer Science.
Inspiration is a software/app that provides notifications about gifts that friends may want based on their interests as indicated on social media. Karl Appel ’15, M.S. in Technology, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship, Alexandra Damiano ’15, M.S. in Technology, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship; and Griffin Fillman ’15, Business and Management/Mechanical Engineering.
Momentum Mechanics incorporates responsive technology into firearms to reduce police back-up response and ambulance mobilization times in active shooter scenarios. Created by Adam Ware ’15, Aeronautical Engineering, and Sylvia Sorriento ’15, Business and Management.
uSpot is an all-inclusive wearable that allows users to stay connected to their group’s real-time activity and locations during an outing while allowing venues to passively capture big data and real-time analytics from their customers. Created by Sandra Besso Plowinske ’15, EMBA, and John Rodis ’15, EMBA.
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The Change the World Challenge “Best of the Best” award is chosen from the fall 2014 and spring 2015 entries. This award was created to accelerate the progress of a fall or spring student entry that demonstrated a strong commitment and clear momentum in pursuing the commercialization of its idea.
The Change the World Challenge “Best of the Best” $5,000 grand prize:
CULTURE-SHIFT is a device designed to capture the critical physiological factors of vascular endothelial tissue to produce highly representative in vitro tissue models in high-capacity, while integrating with standard laboratory supplies, equipment, and experimental protocols. Created by JP Trasatti ’15, Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry; Paige Trasatti ’16, Business and Management; Chris Lamplough ’17, Mechanical Engineering; and Greg Merrill ’17, Chemical Engineering.
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The Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Award was established over a decade ago to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to pursue early development of entrepreneurial ideas into successful ventures. The group is one of the most active, generous, and supportive alumni groups at Rensselaer.
“The Class of ’51 believes in and supports the entrepreneurial ideas and vision of Rensselaer students,” said Class of ’51 member Bob Fopeano. “We are proud to see the challenges that can be impacted through entrepreneurship and the good that can come of such globally minded efforts.”
The Rensselaer Class of 1951 Student Entrepreneurship Awards:
First place ($2,500) – Tone Tree creates a world of sound at your fingertips by making any surface into a precise and expressive interface. Any touch, movement, or gesture can be used to control any sound or parameter. Created by Brian Cook ’15, MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts; Ronald Sardarian ’16, Computer Science; Patrick Strohbeen ’16, Materials Science and Engineering; and Max Escaler, Electrical Engineering ’16.
Second place ($1,500) – Momentum Mechanics incorporates responsive technology into firearms to reduce police back-up response and ambulance mobilization times in active shooter scenarios. Created by Adam Ware ’15, Aeronautical Engineering, and Sylvia Sorriento ’15, Business and Management. Momentum Mechanics is also one of the spring 2015 Change the World Challenge winners.
Third place ($1,000) – Ilium VR is an inertial-visual system for accurately tracking items such as guns and tools in a player’s 3-D world. This system could be applied to gaming, military/police training, and recruiting efforts. Created by Jazmine Olinger ’16, Computer Science/Mathematics; Sebastian Sarbora ’16, Computer Science; and Robert Rouhani ’16, Computer Science. Ilium VR recently placed third in the 2015 Rensselaer Business Model Competition and is one of the spring 2015 Change the World Challenge winners.
For more information about the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, visit
For more information about the Lally School of Management, visit http://lallyschool.rpi.edu/.