NYU-Poly Celebrates Entrepreneurs Past and Future

Last night, Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) celebrated invention, innovation and entrepreneurship – the guiding principles it calls i²e. The Inaugural i2e Gala raised $625,000 for scholarships. It awarded students with big ideas some very entrepreneurial prizes. And it honored two business leaders for their roles in support of education: Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Glenn A. Britt and Soros Associates Founder Paul Soros.

“The world faces a dizzying array of challenges requiring scientific technological solutions,” said NYU-Poly President Jerry M. Hultin. “It is crucial that we cultivate highly-skilled and innovative engineers and scientists to meet these challenges. At NYU-Poly, we are moving to ensure that the concept of i²e permeates every facet of academic life. We are grateful to our honorees and everyone tonight for helping us to do so, and we congratulate our prize winners for showing us all what i²e, in the hands of our great students, can achieve.”

The gala supported NYU-Poly’s largest scholarship fund, the Promise Fund, which has helped 8,300 students obtain baccalaureate degrees since its inception. This academic year, more than 1,000 students received these merit-based scholarships.

Honoree Britt leads Time Warner Cable’s five-year, $100 million philanthropic initiative to engage and develop the innovators of tomorrow. Connect A Million Minds encourages students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers. A longtime advocate of STEM education and a former trustee of Poly, Britt has served as Time Warner Cable’s chief executive since 2001 and its chairman since 2009.

“I am proud to say that innovation is the lifeblood of our company and one of our core values – because we understand how important innovation is to surviving in our highly competitive industry,” Britt said in accepting the i2e Leadership Award. He congratulated the student inventors: “Thank you for dreaming big and for making those dreams a reality.”

Honoree Soros, recipient of the i2e Innovator of Distinction Award, was born in Hungary and studied mechanical engineering there. He escaped from a Russian prisoner of war camp, came to the United States with $17 in his pocket and received his master of science degree from what was then Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1950. He founded Soros Associates and introduced the use of long conveyor belts to load and offload ships.

Today, Soros Associates handles one-third of the world trade in bulk materials such as coal, bauxite and iron ore. Paul Soros, a former Poly board member, and his wife, Daisy, have long been leaders in many areas of philanthropy including education.

Emcee for the event was Adam Balkin, technology reporter for NY1.

The gala on the 61st floor of the Empire State Building served as a dramatic platform to award prizes in the fifth annual NYU-Poly Inno/Vention Contest Sponsored by Time Warner Cable – an ideas contest that challenges students of NYU, NYU-Poly and NYU Abu Dhabi to develop concepts for technical innovations and inventions with high social impact. In addition to cash prizes and patent assistance, the first-place winners in the graduate and undergraduate categories won six-month residencies in the hot new DUMBO Incubator, a collaboration of New York City, NYU-Poly and Two Trees Management. There, the students will work beside Brooklyn’s first venture capital fund, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and more than a dozen entrepreneurs building their businesses in a dynamic incubator environment.

Winners are:

First Place Undergraduate CategoryLuc Succes, computer science senior, NYU-Poly, from Paris and now living in Uniondale, N.Y.; and Shirley Wynn, computer science senior, NYU-Poly, from Brooklyn, N.Y. – Searching for a new radio format that encourages interactivity and provides stations with systematic insight on listeners’ opinions and interests, Succes and Wynn developed their first prototype during a senior design project using NYU-Poly’s radio station. Their cloud-based service called Neocast.fm provides radio stations with realtime feedback and analytics on listeners connected through web and mobile platforms. Listeners can pick what they want to hear and communicate with other listeners. The students are currently testing their latest prototype with two college stations.

First Place Graduate Student Category: Christopher Bradley, computer science program, NYU-Poly, from Honolulu, and Chetan Govind, computer science program, NYU-Poly, from Bangalore, India – Working with practicing and medical school doctors, Bradley and Govind are developing an inexpensive, easy alternative to today’s medical diagnostic software. Their Synthetic Biosystems, Inc., software aims to reduce the diagnostic errors that cost upwards of $17 billion annually in the United States, as well as empower nurse practitioners and emergency providers to sort through vastly increasing amounts of available medical data.

Second Place Undergraduate Category: Jonathan Samudio, computer engineering freshman, NYU-Poly, from Congers, N.Y. – Samudio is designing a “smart” jacket called IronSuit, which can use the wearers body heat to generate electricity to charge electrical devices. The jacket can also heat or cool the user while not charging a device.

Second Place Graduate Category: Alan Perlstein, biotechnology and entrepreneurship program, NYU-Poly, from Brooklyn, N.Y. – With drug-resistant pathogens on the rise in hospitals, Perlstein set out to stop the spread of the most deadly and costly ones by using innovative sensors. He also foresees applications in agriculture as well as for identifying explosives and bio-weapons.

Third Place Undergraduate Category: Yangzi Isabel Tian, chemical and Biological engineering junior, NYU-Poly, from San Gabriel, Calif. – In search of a non-invasive cancer therapy, Tian looks to deliver a tumor-suppressing gene by deploying synthetic nano-engineered carriers. Through this combinatorial therapy, Tian expects safer and more effective treatment with fewer side effects.

Third Place Graduate Category: Santiago Kielmanovich, biotechnology program, NYU-Poly, originally from Buenos Aires, now living in Brooklyn, N.Y. – Humans employ many tools to diagnose themselves – why not give pet owners a way to find out when their pets are sick? Veterinarian and biotech student Kielmanovich proposes an inexpensive electronic home urine test to easily and quickly check pets’ health.

Major sponsors of the gala are Ralph C. Alexander, AMC Networks Inc., Comcast Corporation, HBO, iN DEMAND L.L.C., William K. Kramer, OMD, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Soros, Joseph S. Steinberg, Time Warner Cable and Xerox Corporation.

About Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University), an affiliate of New York University, is a comprehensive school of engineering, applied sciences, technology and research, and is rooted in a 158-year tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship: i2e. The institution, founded in 1854, is the nation’s second-oldest private engineering school. In addition to its main campus in New York City at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, it also offers programs at sites throughout the region and around the globe. Globally, NYU-Poly has programs in Israel, China and is an integral part of NYU's campus in Abu Dhabi. For more information, visit engineering.nyu.edu