• Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session.

    Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session.

    Photo: Aditi Verma

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Winners of the ninth annual MIT IDEAS Competition announced

Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session.

More than $25,000 awarded to seven student teams that apply invention to improve lives


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The ninth annual MIT IDEAS Competition celebrated student achievement on Monday evening, May 3, at MIT’s Raymond and Maria Stata Center. This year, 26 teams — representing more than 90 students and their collaborators — entered the IDEAS Competition. Seven student teams received IDEAS awards to implement their projects over the next year.

IDEAS — which stands for Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action and Service — recognizes student teams that have developed outstanding projects that apply invention as a public service. Each award enables a team to develop their prototype into a working solution in collaboration with community partners around the world.

The awards, presented by a selection of MIT staff and sponsors, went to the following teams:

  • Konbit was awarded the $8,000 IDEAS Award sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. Team members Greg Elliott and Aaron Zinman designed a service via phone, Short Message Service (SMS) and web that helps communities rebuild themselves after a crisis by indexing the skill sets of local residents, and allowing NGOs to find and employ them.
  • PerfectSight was awarded the $5,000 Award sponsored by the Lemelson-MIT Program. Team members Chika Ekeji, Margaret McKenna, Ankit Mohan, and Vitor Pamplona designed an innovative, mobile system for diagnosing refractive eye conditions for under $1 using cell phones.
  • Komera was awarded the $5,000 IDEAS Award sponsored by Eberhard and Shahla Wunderlich. Team members Abdulaziz Albahar, Laura Aust, Kamyin Cheng, Amrita Saigal, Ariadne Smith, Katherine Smyth, and Zachary Rose worked closely with Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), a 2008 IDEAS Competition award winning team. The team developed a method that uses locally available materials to make both the manufacturing process for sanitary pads as well as the pads themselves — made in part from banana tree pulp — in Rwanda. The Komera machine can be fabricated out of simple materials, and assembled at local workshops.

Read more about the awards on the Public Service Center website


Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Contests and academic competitions, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Public service, Students

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