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Student Invents Infinitely Variable Transmission Using Split Helical Gears

| November 1, 2019

4 Student Teams Win 2019 Collegiate Inventors Competition

A glimpse into the future of American innovation and emerging technological trends from the nation’s brightest young inventors — from water conservation to reducing eyedrop medication waste — were recognized and honored today at the 2019 Collegiate Inventors Competition®, an annual competition for college and university students and their faculty advisers.

“For the United States to maintain our leadership role in critical STEM disciplines, we must empower the next generation of world-changing inventors,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). “The USPTO is proud to once again be the host and presenting sponsor for the Collegiate Inventors Competition ­— a program where the creativity of our greatest collegiate inventors foretells the future of American innovation.”

Finalist teams (five Undergraduate and five Graduate), consisting of 23 students from 11 colleges and universities across the United States, received an all-expenses-paid trip to the final round of the competition held at the USPTO’s Madison Building in Alexandria, Virginia. The teams presented their inventions 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® Inductees and USPTO officials.

“The Collegiate Inventors Competition showcases the next generation of innovation game-changers — college inventors who are finding tangible, creative solutions to real-world problems,” said National Inventors Hall of Fame CEO Michael Oister. “These student teams earned the opportunity this week to meet and learn from the greatest role models in American history — the Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.”

Established in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition is a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is sponsored by the USPTO, Arrow Electronics (People’s Choice Award), Merck, Hologic and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.



PE-IVT (Positively Engaged, Infinitely Variable Transmission Using Split Helical Gears), University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Team Member: Ethan R. Brush; Adviser: Carl Nelson

Driving Efficiency Forward: As demand for electric vehicles rises, so does the need for manufacturers to identify a more suitable transmission. The Positively Engaged, Infinitely Variable Transmission (PE-IVT) represents a new class of transmission that combines the torque of gear-based transmissions with the efficiency of continuously variable transmissions. The PE-IVT operates at 88 to 98% efficiency across all gear ratios, and it could disrupt existing technologies and reduce energy losses across a range of applications and industries.


Infinite Cooling, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Team Members: Maher Damak, Karim Khalil; Adviser: Kripa Varanasi

Recycling an Essential Resource: Freshwater sources are in great demand as regions fall into drought. Because 39% of all freshwater withdrawals in the United States are attributed to power plants, Infinite Cooling can ionize and collect water from power plants’ cooling towers so it may be reused as industrial and drinking water. If this invention was used in all power plants across the country, it could save as much as 200 billion gallons of water per year.



PeritoneX, Johns Hopkins University

Team Members: Tejasvi Desai, Sarah Lee, Eugene Oh, James Qin; Adviser: Elizabeth Logsdon

Advancing the Safety of Dialysis: End-stage renal disease can be fatal, and with the limited availability of kidney transplants, hundreds of thousands of people require renal replacement therapy to survive. Peritoneal dialysis (PD), a convenient, at-home form of this therapy, carries a high risk of infection. To reduce this risk, the PeritoneX is designed to disinfect PD systems. This syringe-based mechanism can improve lives by minimizing the potential for infection without increasing the time or dexterity required to perform PD.

The PeritoneX team also received the Arrow Electronics People’s Choice Award ($1,500 prize).


Nanodropper, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine/University of Washington

Team Members: Mackenzie Andrews, Allisa J. Song, Jennifer Steger; Adviser: Raghu Mudumbai

Small Drops, Big Vision: For millions of people with eye conditions such as glaucoma, the unregulated size of eyedropper tip openings poses significant problems. Oversized drops dispensed from these bottles result in wasted medication, leading many patients to run out before their insurance will cover a refill — and each missed dose can contribute to vision loss. Nanodropper is a universal adapter for eyedrop medication bottles that creates smaller and more efficacious droplets to reduce waste, decreases per-dose costs, and ultimately increases access to expensive, essential medications.

Category: Electric Vehicles, Engines & Drivetrains, Featured, General Update, News

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