This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Colleges Nurture World-Changing Inventions

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- College campuses are an increasingly fertile breeding ground for inventors, many of whom have an eye on the global marketplace.

Each year, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance hosts its annual Open Minds showcase of student innovation (formerly known as March Madness for the Mind). This year, the event will be held March 26 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's cheaper and improved cycle rickshaw carts are among several college inventors' products showing March 26 at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance's Open Minds showcase.

Approximately 100 patent applications have resulted from projects supported by NCIIA grants, leading to an equal number of business startups.

Student-created prototypes -- covering a spectrum of industries that include energy, medical, mobile and transportation -- on display at this year's showcase include:
  • A compact generator that uses household waste and a tiny bit of water to make electricity, with even a twig being enough to run a bank of LEDs that can light a room for hours or, eventually, charge a cell phone and other devices (Arizona State University).
  • An affordable, pressurized shower system designed for Chile's poorest areas that has quickly spread beyond its intended market, reducing the spread of disease in developing regions. (Art Center College of Design).
  • A mobile-based social network intended to link people and businesses in off-the-grid areas, being piloted this spring in South Africa (Pennsylvania State University).
  • Cycle rickshaw carts that improve upon traditional models used in India, but are more affordable so they can be eventually bought by their operators, rather than rented (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Humera Fasihuddin, who oversees student venture coaching and mentoring for NCIIA, also manages BME-IDEA, a national student competition in biomedical engineering and founded Edical May, a manufacturing and business development company enabling scale-up of new medical devices. She says the collaborative environment of most campuses enable students with an entrepreneurial bent and inspires others to think like an inventor.

"The career path isn't so laid out, those entry-level jobs just aren't there and what is there is just not what students want to do," she says. "So they can make their own."

For these students, any corner of their dorm room can serve as an R&D facility. Fasihuddin tells of one team of students who grew mushrooms under their bed as part of an effort to create a flame-retardant substance that might someday replace Styrofoam in packaging or offer an alternative for home insulation.

Students may be in a better position to devote the time and energy needed to develop a viable product, she says.

"They don't have a mortgage and they usually don't have kids," she says. "They can be lean and mean, and college provides them access to the infrastructure, partnerships and people that can help make the funding and implementation of those opportunities possible."

Many campus creators look to balance commercial adaptability with a socially relevant pursuit.
1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
AAPL $93.64 0.00%
FB $118.57 0.00%
GOOG $698.21 0.00%
TSLA $241.80 0.00%
YHOO $36.53 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,891.16 +117.52 0.66%
S&P 500 2,081.43 +16.13 0.78%
NASDAQ 4,817.5940 +42.2360 0.88%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs