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Six MIT students win Lemelson-MIT prize

The Lemelson-MIT Program awarded its annual Student Prize Tuesday, recognizing promising inventors from across the United States. Six MIT students were among the winners announced.

Winning undergraduate teams will receive $10,000 while teams of graduate students will receive $15,000. Prizes are awarded in multiple categories: “Cure it!”, “Drive it!”, “Eat it!”, and “Use it!” Winning inventions included space plants, plague-fighting tools, as well as communication aides for autism and gloves which live-translate ASL.

MIT’s Mechanical Engineering department can congratulate five of its students: Dan Dorsch G, a second year PhD, won the Drive It! award for a high performance, lightweight, clutchless hybrid transmission. Dorsch is also known for helping establish MakerWorks, a student-managed makerspace which opened last May.

Michael Farid G, Kale Rogers ’16, Braden Knight ’16, and Luke Schlueter ’16 received the Eat it! award for a fully automated restaurant, including a fridge, dishwasher, stove, and cook.

The Media Lab also has a student to congratulate: Achuta Kadambi G developed cameras designed to far exceed human capabilities. For example, they are able to observe light as it travels, re-create 3D scenes by detecting reflected polarization, and diagnose tuberculosis at a low cost by measuring how light bounces off sick cells.

The Lemelson-MIT Program aims to attract young people to engineering by portraying successful inventors as role models, similar to how successful athletes drive participation in sports. In addition to its college prize, the program also awards a $500,000 prize to mid-career professionals and provides grants to middle and high school initiatives.

—Olivia Brode-Roger