CCNY Announces Winners of First Annual Kaylie Prize
In November 2010, Mini-Circuits founder Harvey Kaylie established a $3 million endowment for the Kaylie Prize for Entrepreneurship at the City College of New York. CCNY President Lisa Staiano-Coico hosted the first annual Kaylie Prize ceremony on May 10, 2011, when five finalists, selected from over 35 entries, made their final presentations to a panel of 5 judges.
“Stoke Innovation” took top honors. Composed of four graduate physics students and an undergraduate electrical engineering major, it is developing an affordable, non-invasive device for instant cancer detection through light analysis. Their compact, modular system beams light at tissues via thin bundles of fibers and collect it within the same bundle. The instrument measures the “Stokes shift,” a difference in light measured between a standard and the target tissue or material. Team members are James Scholtz, Denis Sharoukhov, Laura Sordillo, Giovanni Milione and Wayne Parkinson. Dr. Robert Alfano, distinguished professor of science and engineering, is the team adviser.
“Dynamic Braille,” an all-freshman team, captured second place with their low-cost electronic Braille interface. Their entry used opposing electrical charges to distort a thin polymer film. The team envisions a field of “Braille cells,” each made up of six tiny pins that would touch the film from below to create a raised pattern of dots to form Braille letters. The resulting e-reader-like device for the blind could display pages of refreshable digital text, much as a Kindle or Nook functions for the sighted. Team members are Joseph Borrello, Jeremy Cortez, Sullivan Fleming, Sankha Ghatak, and Nick Macaluso. Dr. Ilona Kretzschmar, associate professor of chemical engineering, is the team adviser.
The competition has added a new dimension to the students’ education and elevated the school. Dr. Dan Steingart, a faculty advisor, noted that “these are risky ventures, but students can learn a lot. Even if it doesn’t work out, they will be assets to any lab or company they work for.” Both teams secured financial support and housing for the summer to further develop their products. In addition, they will work in CCNY’s new InnoLab, a Silicon Valley garage-like workspace created to support such efforts. “This has opened a huge door for our careers,” said Mr. Cortez.
“Everyone who participated is a winner,” said Mr. Kaylie, CCNY class of ’60. “My satisfaction is seeing their ideas in front of me. Taking a creative idea that’s in your mind and transferring it into something real is an amazing accomplishment.”