3 UI inventors to get shot at $30,000 honor

3 UI inventors to get shot at $30,000 honor

URBANA – Three University of Illinois students have been chosen as finalists for the $30,000 Lemelson MIT-Illinois Student Prize to be awarded March 9.

The prize is awarded annually to a student who has demonstrated "remarkable inventiveness and innovation."

This year's finalists are:

– Colin Lake, a senior in industrial design in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, who invented an affordable fire-safety device for the hearing-impaired.

The Beacon plugs into a wall outlet, and its strobe light is activated by the beeping frequency of a standard smoke detector. The device has a back-up battery and is portable so it can be taken along when staying away from home.

– Zeba Parkar, a graduate student in materials science and engineering, who co-founded SilverScreen Inc. to develop and commercialize a technology for the dairy industry.

Milkshield is a low-cost material that can preserve milk against spoilage without refrigeration or use of excess energy. The material is immersed in milk to inhibit the activity of micro-organisms.

It is considered an affordable alternative for subsistence farmers in developing countries.

– Scott Daigle, a graduate student in mechanical science and engineering, who is working on IntelliWheels, a venture that replaces wheelchair wheels and adds automatic gear shifting to reduce the amount of effort required to push the wheelchair.

IntelliWheels automatically shifts gears by sensing how hard one is pushing and how fast one is going, as well as the current tilt of the wheelchair.

IntelliWheels Inc. is also developing other products such as Caster-Skis – small skis that clip onto casters, which will allow a wheelchair to roll over pavement and slide over snow.

The winner of the Lemelson-MIT Illinois Student Prize will be announced at 6 p.m. March 9 in the auditorium of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, 1205 W. Clark St., U.

The $30,000 prize is funded through a partnership with the Lemelson-MIT Program, which has awarded a similar prize to outstanding student inventors at MIT since 1995.

The local prize is administered by the UI College of Engineering's Technology Entrepreneur Center.