The Lemelson-MIT Program awarded Alfonso (AJ) Perez with a Jerome Lemelson Fellowship today. The Jerome Lemelson Fellowship is a fund for graduate students whose research involves invention, innovation and intellectual property. A prolific inventor, engineer and patent holder, Jerome Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy, established the Jerome Lemelson Fellowship Fund in 1993 to support graduate study at the Institute.
Perez, a South Florida native and recent graduate of mechanical engineering at MIT, was awarded the fellowship to fund his tuition for MIT's Master of Engineering in Manufacturing (MEngM) program, which he will begin this fall.
“AJ’s inventiveness, entrepreneurial spirit, and desire to pursue further studies that augment his inventive work through the MEngM program, exemplify all the characteristics we were looking for to honor Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson,” says Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program.
Perez’s graduate studies will focus on mechanical design and the automation of manufacturing processes. Perez co-invented both a novel gynecological surgery device and an automated network 3-D printer during his senior year at MIT for which he filed provisional patents. His medical device invention came out of his discovery and research in Professor Alex Slocum’s Precision Machine Design course. Perez witnessed how current uterine manipulator devices, which doctors must hold while standing for hours, allow for little control during gynecologic laparoscopic surgery. Perez built a purely mechanical transvaginal uterine manipulator system that enhances the physician’s range of motion during surgery and is easier to control than current available devices.
The need for a simple 3-D printer that Perez and his Phi Delta Theta roommates could share, print, and use while they were in class resulted in his automated network 3-D printer invention. The market demand for an easy network 3-D printer led him to found New Valance Robotics, a company that enables students to 3-D print at any hour of the day from any device. New Valance Robotics also created an easy-to-use cloud interface and curricula enabling high school and college students to safely 3-D print and bring their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects to life.