TEC News Stories

3/1/2013 11:52:00 AM

Story Highlights

For More Information:

Danyelle Michelini

Technology Entrepreneur Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

(217) 333-1210



URBANA, Ill. (February 27, 2013) – The University of Illinois is a world leader in research, innovation and leadership. We distinguish ourselves by creating knowledgepreparing students for lives of impact, and addressing critical societal needs through invention and entrepreneurship.

Today, the Technology Entrepreneur Center announces the eight finalists for the Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize, which awards innovative students passionate about solving grand challenges and striving to be entrepreneurial.   

The winner will be announced and awarded at a showcase and ceremony scheduled for Monday, March 4, 2013 in room 2405 Siebel Center (201 N. Goodwin, Urbana). The innovation showcase will begin at 5:00pm; ceremony at 5:30pm. The event is open to the public, and will be immediately followed by a reception for all attendees.

Finalists for the 2013 Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize include:  

  • Arnab Mukherjee -PhD Candidate -Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, College of Engineering
    Throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies, Arnab has strived to translate his scientific curiosity into technological innovations that enhance human capabilities and improve society.  He has brought to fruition the conception of a keyboard design for patients with motor disabilities, the development of low-cost and point-of-care medical diagnostic devices, as well as bio-imaging tools to advance industrial and pharmaceutical bio-production and cancer research. He has worked to develop novel computational models to guide antiretroviral therapy in AIDS in addition to a biomedical microfluidic platform to facilitate rapid and precise screening of antibiotic susceptibilities of pathogens. Arnab is passionate about exploring new ideas and developing innovative strategies to address key challenges in science and technology and will continue to fervently pursue opportunities to deliver sustainable solutions to challenges in healthcare, renewable energy technology, and other pressing real-world needs.
  • Brett Jones- PhD Candidate-Computer Science, College of Engineering
    Brett’s dual background in human computer interaction and computer vision has enabled him to solve real-world problems using state of the art computer vision techniques. He strives to create magical interactive experiences that merge the physical and virtual worlds. His most recent project, IllumiRoom, augments the area surrounding a television screen with projected visualizations to enhance the traditional living room entertainment experience. IllumiRoom uses a Kinect and a projector to blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment. It uses a technology called projection mapping, where video projectors superimpose virtual objects onto physical reality, creating visual effects on everyday, non-flat objects. Brett’s research makes content creation for projection mapping cheaper and easier, turning projection mapping into a new creative medium that can be used to bring magical experiences to advertising, hands-on education, theater, gaming and in-home computing.
  • Brett Walker- PhD Candidate- Materials Science and Engineering, College of Engineering
    A passion for learning and discovery has always driven Brett. As a child, while other kids asked for toys, he wanted metal-working lathes and mills so he could build his own. Brett continued his entrepreneurship through high school, starting Walker Tactical Systems, LLC and into college with the development of several projects and startups.  His entrepreneurial experiences have shaped his ability to innovate. He co-founded BioTek Fuels to convert waste grease into biodiesel, which quickly spun off into Enviroclaim, a company that converted waste crude oil into pipeline grade oil. His most recent entrepreneurial endeavor coincides with his PhD work of reactive silver inks.  This research has yielded a conductive ink with performance equivalent to conventionally processed electronics without the environmental hazards associated with them and at a much lower cost. Early this year, Electroninks Incorporated was founded to commercialize reactive silver inks for the printed electronic market place.
  • Eduardo Torrealba-Master of Science- Mechanical Science and Engineering, College of Engineering
    What started as the search for a simple solution to keep his household plants alive, turned into the creation of Eduardo’s company, Oso Technologies. Their first product, Plant Link, monitors the moisture needs of specific plants and can deliver water on an as needed basis using smart valves.  The evolution of this wireless product will make agricultural water resource management easier and more affordable than ever on a global scale. It is speculated that by 2025 more than 1.8 billion people around the world will live in areas of absolute water scarcity. In the cases of agriculture and manufacturing, water management will be the key to sustainably utilizing this limited resource. Ranging from home lawns and gardens to farms in emerging economies, this technology has a huge potential to impact the sustainability and costs of water usage.
  • Eleni Antoniadou-PhD Candidate-Bioengineering, College of Engineering
    Eleni is conducting research in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine and considers herself a hybrid student due to her interdisciplinary education and her fascination with problems that have always been thought of as science fiction such as the development of artificial organs or the use of space materials for new drug and tissue engineering applications. Her innovative spirit can be found in the projects she has had the pleasure to be a part of like the development of artificial skin, nerves, and brain implants, the robotic arm for the Da Vinci minimally invasive robotic system, the inexpensive telemonitoring cardiograph for third world countries, and the first successful artificial tracheal transplantation. Eleni cofounded the startup Transplants Without Donors with the vision to provide artificial organs as a life-saving alternative therapy, but also as a means to give an end to the illicit organ trafficking that is rising in developing countries.
  • Lucas Smith-Master of Science-Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
    Lucas is an interdisciplinary scientist who uses a top town approach to design financially viable solutions to contemporary problems across industries. Since founding the company BioAnalytics, Lucas has acted as a research director of over 45 student employees developing a rapid point of care device, medical image refinement technology, high efficiency solar thermal dishes, and computer software. BioAnalytics is preparing to launch several products, including an extension, Illuminate, which facilitates web browsing by automatically navigating users to material relevant to their searches, as well as technologies which increase water efficiency and reduce the spread of pathogens in lavatories. Lucas believes that it is his ability to cultivate lasting collaborations and facilitate innovation within his organization which has allowed him to become the director of such a promising portfolio of technologies.
  • Michael McCarty-Senior-Bioengineering, College of Engineering
    Michael is an entrepreneur majoring in bioengineering who has a diverse research background and is focusing on scalable solutions to some of the world’s biggest device interconnectivity problems. Michael is the co-founder of Prawg Inc. which is a startup aiming to revolutionize the way TV viewers interact with their TVs and provide ubiquitous information through increased interoperability across all technological platform  as well as  the way networks interact with their viewing audience. In addition to his entrepreneurial activities, Michael is working on his senior design project,  the creation of filtration and detection devices that detect minimal levels of bacterial contamination in raw materials using cutting edge MEMS technologies. Finally, he is an undergraduate researcher in a lab where he develops novel epidermal electronics that have a wide range of research, clinical, and public applications.
  • Rajinder Sodhi - PhD Candidate-Computer Science, College of Engineering
    New devices like the Kinect allow us to naturally interact with our computers by gesturing with our bodies. One large obstacle to these natural interfaces is that we are unable to feel virtual objects in the air. Rajinder’s invention, AIREAL, allows users to feel physical forces in the air without requiring any instrumentation of the user. This technology enables new interactive experiences, such as movies and games that can deliver physical forces to a viewer and objects in their environment. When combined with a projector, virtual elements like a butterfly can be projected and felt on a person's body. Other applications include assistive technologies for visually-impaired users. Rajinder's research lies at the intersection of computer vision and human computer interaction and he focuses on creating new Augmented Reality experiences that blurs the line between our physical and virtual worlds. 


Celebrating innovation, inspiring youth

The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding innovators and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.

Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering. The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives, by inspiring and enabling the next generation of inventors and invention based enterprises to promote economic growth in the US and social and economic progress for the poor in developing countries. http://web.mit.edu/invent/


The $30,000 Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize is funded through a partnership with the Lemelson-MIT Program, which has awarded the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize to outstanding student inventors at MIT since 1995. 


A land grant college founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is dedicated to its tradition of excellence and innovation its missions: education, research, and public engagement. More than 2,200 faculty members lead nearly 42,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students in a process of discovery and learning in 17 colleges and schools and more than 80 research centers and labs. Illinois faculty members have been recognized with most prestigious national and international awards, including Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, Tony Awards, and National Medals of Science and Technology.

The University of Illinois is renowned for its international connections and collaborations. These international partnerships provide a growing number of opportunities for Illinois students, as well as faculty, to work with renowned colleagues around the world.

The College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a legacy of groundbreaking accomplishments and remarkable new discoveries that change the world and enrich the lives of people everywhere, every day.

The faculty includes engineers, scientists, and educators who are not only leaders in their fields but innovators who pioneered some of those fields. The world-class facilities support collaborations with researchers across disciplines and from around the world.

Excellence in education means preparing students to take leadership roles wherever their aspirations guide them. Engineering at Illinois provides students with the exceptional technical education and professional skills development they need to be successful practitioners, inventors, entrepreneurs, and leaders in industry and academia--positively impacting society around the world.

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