Impressive Inventions Revealed at the Prototyping Fund's Fall Showcase

Overview of men presenting

Each semester, student teams from across NYU join forces to create inventive prototypes that they hope to one day bring to market. They have help from the NYU Prototyping Fund, an ongoing collaboration between the School of Engineering's Greenhouse Innovation Space (with support of a VentureWell grant) and the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute. On December 4, all participants—who had developed over the course of the semester several prototypes to refine their idea—displayed the fruits of their labor at the Fall 2015 Showcase, held at the Greenhouse Innovation Space.

Anne-Laure Fayard, Associate Professor of Management and co-organizer of the Prototyping Fund Program with the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, explained: “We believe that prototyping is essential for innovation as there's no other way to figure out if an idea is ‘good’ than building it and getting feedback from users.”

The Showcase has been only the beginning for some past teams. Last spring, for example, SayCEL won the Stern School of Business Social Venture Competition, taking home $25,000. Two other teams, Cognitive ToyBox and Lovoy, also Prototyping Fund veterans, made it to the semi-finals of Stern’s Entrepreneurs Challenge. Previously, a team of School of Medicine students from the fall 2013 Showcase developed a type of resistance-based clothing to increase muscle activity and burn more calories. Physiclo, as the team was called, generated more than $150,000 through the popular fundraising site Indiegogo.

Read on for just a few of the exciting projects displayed on December 4 that could well be enjoying similar success:

Open Source Robotic Hands

Jiawen Hu (BA ’17, Tisch), Tianshi Xu (BS ’17, Tandon), and Fengyuan Zhu (BA ITP ’17) created a low-cost, robotic hand for amputees in areas where access to technology such as 3-D printing is not available. Made entirely from acrylic and other simple materials, the components can actually be cut out with scissors. “This design took two months of planning and construction to create, but with the necessary parts another could easily be produced in 48 hours,” Zhu said. “In the future we hope to conduct more tests to make it cheaper and add more movement.”


A wearable EEG headset designed by Teon Brooks (Ph.D ’16, CAS) and Andrew Heusser (Ph.D ’16, CAS) monitors brain activity and interfaces with an app that the pair is developing to help users retain information. “Every user remembers memories differently, so our program will interact uniquely with each individual,” Brooks explained. The two hope that their system, which now involves vocabulary words but which they envision expanding to other topics, will help users learn more easily and efficiently.

Fit AI

With their development of a smart barbell with embedded motion sensors and strain gauges, Twinkle Gupta (BA ’19, Steinhardt), Andrew Hong (BA ’19, CAS), Zach Nagin (BA ’19, Tisch), and Temirlan Nugmanov (BA ’19 SPS) are attempting to revolutionize the world of exercise. By delivering such important information as weight used, number of repetitions performed, and tempo maintained, the barbell allows gym-goers to monitor the effectiveness of their workouts and maintain a data-driven level of safety.

For more information and to view the other projects included in the showcase, visit:

Linde Cook
Tandon School of Engineering
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering | Class of 2016

M.S. in Financial Engineering | Class of 2016