4/23/2014 12:18:00 PM

For More Information:
Danyelle Michelini
Technology Entrepreneur Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(217) 333-1210


URBANA, Ill. (April 23, 2014) – The University of Illinois is a world leader in research, innovation and leadership. We distinguish ourselves by creating knowledge, preparing students for lives of impact, and addressing critical societal needs through invention and entrepreneurship.

Today, the Technology Entrepreneur Center announces the six finalists for the Illinois Innovation Prize, which awards $20,000 to one student who stands out as a passionate innovator and entrepreneur, who is working with world changing technology and is seen as a role model for others.

The winner will be announced and awarded at a showcase and ceremony scheduled for Friday, April 25, 2014 in the Auditorium of the NCSA (1205 W. Clark St., Urbana). The innovation showcase will begin at 11:30am; ceremony at 2:00pm. The event is open to the public and is part of the Entrepreneurship Forum taking place at NCSA that day.

Finalists for the 2014 Illinois Innovation Prize include:

Canan Dagdeviren; PhD Candidate in Materials Science and Engineering
Canan pursues her Ph.D. under supervision of Professor John A. Rogers. She has recently developed a new class of biocompatible piezoelectric mechanical energy harvesters that are soft and flexible, with low bending stiffness, allowing them to conform to and laminate on soft tissues such as heart, lung, and diaphragm. These devices are first of its kind nano-generators that convert mechanical energy from internal organ movements into significant amounts of electric energy to power medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers.

Peter Fiflis; PhD Candidate in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering
Peter is currently studying plasma wall interactions in nuclear fusion devices. His doctoral research has led to the development of several innovations including a device for the production of millimetric size spheres of low melting point materials, a test chamber for the examination of corrosion of liquid metals on plastics, ceramics, and other metals, and a method for the low cost production of nanostructured tungsten wires. Fiflis is investigating the extension of the nanostructuring method to a broad range of materials other than tungsten for more efficient and robust catalysts.

Paul Froeter; PhD Candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering
In 2006, Paul began his study in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus on digital signal processing at the University of Illinois. In the spring of 2011, Paul joined Professor Xiuling Li’s nanostructured device research group as a crystal growth research assistant. Finding passion in strained films, he went on to create the group’s first fully insulating rolled-up membrane. This opened routes to realizing miniaturized RF components, biocompatible interfaces, and high quality optical components.  Paul has received the Frank C. Mock Scholarship, ECE Alumni Scholarship, E.C. Jordan Award, and Andrew T. Yang Award.

James Pikul; PhD Candidate in Mechanical Science and Engineering
James is currently working between the fields of mechanical engineering and materials science. He currently makes microbatteries that are 100X more powerful than conventional batteries and 2,000X more powerful than other microbatteries. For his work, he won the Materials Research Society Gold Award. In his spare time he also has a company, JáD Naturals that produces a 100% natural skin care line to naturally treat Rosacea and Psoriasis.

Analisa Russo; PhD Candidate in Materials Science and Engineering
Analisa is developing a product to be used as an alternative to traditional breadboard kits that she hopes will motivate, excite, and inspire students to learn about science and engineering. Her product, the Circuit Scribe, is a rollerball pen filled with conductive silver ink for sketching circuits directly by hand.  Circuit Scribe kits are an inexpensive and intuitive way to bring textbook circuit diagrams to life on paper.  In addition to STEM education applications, the Circuit Scribe finds uses in electronic art and circuit prototyping.  Analisa recently marketed the technology with her lab group’s startup company, Electroninks, in a successful Kickstarter campaign raising $675K. 

Adam Tilton; PhD Candidate in Mechanical Science and Engineering
Adam’s PhD work is in the areas of control theory and computer science. During his PhD research, he developed a new approach for pattern recognition and classification in machine learning.  Adam co-founded a data analytics software company, Rithmio, whose first product is a gesture recognition software system for wearable devices. Rithmio’s software has two features that set it apart from the state-of-the-art. It can be trained by the user for new, user-defined gestures, and once trained, it can accurately distinguish the gesture being performed and provide precise analysis of how the gesture compares to a baseline.

The Illinois Innovation Prize, administered by the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering, is awarded on an annual basis to the most innovative student on campus. This year, TEC will reward and recognize the most innovative student on campus with $20,000. This student is a passionate innovator, working with world changing technology, entrepreneurially minded, and a role model for others.

This day-long event allows attendees to participate in hands-on workshops and panel discussions to learn: the Lean Startup Method, How to Fund Your Company, and the Impact of Social Entrepreneurship. This event will begin at 9AM with keynote speaker, Bill King of UIUC and UI Labs and Provost Adesida will give remarks during lunch at 12PM. Additionally, all finalists of the Cozad New Venture Competition (CNVC) will showcase their ideas in the morning, and compete for over $185,000 in funding and in-kind prizes during the final competition at 2PM.