NYU-Poly Students Create The Next Big Things: Cheap Solar Power, Electronics that Aid Walking and a Printer that Recycles

Time Warner Cable Inno/Vention Competition Winners Create Inventions and Innovations with Power in the Marketplace

Create technical inventions and innovations that can win in the marketplace: That was the challenge laid down for Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) students. After nearly six months of student work, the winners were chosen: Inexpensive personal-sized solar power and an electronic feedback system that will help people with nerve damage to walk or even drive. Runner-up was a printer that erases the old ink to recycle paper automatically.

The 2009-2010 Time Warner Cable Inno/Vention Competition is an annual event designed to foster the school’s academic philosophy of i2e: invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. As part of the effort to instill knowledge that will speed the transfer of technology from labs to the real world, the competition encourages undergraduate and graduate students to spend six months developing “the next big thing” in science and engineering. They attended workshops on patent searches, market research and how to make presentations to potential investors. They also received one-on-one business coaching.

This year, two teams tied for first place. Tan Vo, a graduate student in biomedical engineering (Class of 2011), Norcross, Georgia, created VibroWalk. This sensitive electronic feedback system monitors the location of the feet of a person suffering from peripheral neuropathy, which eliminates sensation in the feet.  VibroWalk relays the information to another part of the body that still retains sensation. Through training, the person can learn to interpret the signal in order to orient his or her feet to retain balance for everyday tasks like walking or even driving.

Tying for first place is a team comprised of Ian de Albuquerque, a sophomore in chemical and biological engineering from Curitiba, Brazil, and Eduard Nasybulin, Moscow, Russia, who will receive his doctorate this year in materials chemistry. They created PolySolar, which drastically reduces the cost of today’s silicon-based solar cells by employing Organic Photovoltaics (OPV), which are built using electrochemical techniques. These OPVs are also lightweight, can operate in low light and can be applied to any shape. The students foresee personal solar-powered products that could power a cell phone or create a mobile charging station from a backpack.

Nasybulin is also part of the team that created Re-Printer, which uses a revolutionary new chemical process to extract the ink from a page of paper and reprint on the same page, allowing recycling on the spot – no costly collection, transportation or paper mill required. The other Re-Printer team members are Chunyong Lin, a graduate student in computer engineering (Class of 2011), Fuzhou City Fujian Province, China, and Xilin Sun, a graduate student in electrical engineering (Class of 2011), Suihua City, Hei Long Jiang Province, China.

“The winners of this year’s competition indicate just how attuned NYU-Poly students are to the needs of society and the global marketplace,” said NYU President Jerry M. Hultin. “Their inventions and innovations will contribute to a sustainable future and make significant health and quality-of-life improvement for many people. We appreciate the support of Time Warner Cable for helping educate the next generation of inventors and innovators.”

“I was impressed with the creativity and quality of all the presentations,” said Jim Braun, senior vice president, product management, of Time Warner Cable. “The winners demonstrated a real desire to solve for health and environmental concerns. On behalf of TWC, I congratulate all the students who participated in the competition.”

In addition to judges from NYU-Poly, the panel of judges included Braun; Richard Fishbein, partner emeritus of the investment group Cortec Group; Dr. Howard H. Taub, retired vice president of Hewlett Packard, associate director of HP Labs and former Polytechnic Outstanding Alumnus (Physics) and overall; and Christopher Lobello, winner of last year’s competition.

For more information on the competition, visit http://engineering.nyu.edu/InnoVention.


About Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University), an affiliate of New York University, is one of New York City’s most comprehensive schools of engineering, applied sciences, technology, and research, and is rooted in a 156-year tradition of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship: i2e. The institution, founded in 1854, is one of the nation’s oldest private engineering schools. In addition to its main campus at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, it offers programs at sites throughout the region and around the globe. NYU-Poly has centers in Long Island, Manhattan and Westchester County; globally, it has programs in Israel, China and will be an integral part of NYU's campus in Abu Dhabi opening in autumn 2010.