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College students invited to compete in ‘Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition’ program

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Puerto Rican undergraduate students majoring in electrical, mechanical, computer, agricultural, or industrial engineering, as well as computer science, will have the opportunity to participate in the “Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition” competition.

The initiative of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust’s pre18 program and its Technology Transfer Office, together with Engine-4, will offer participants a workspace to build solutions with NASA technologies.

Students interested in participating have until Feb. 8th, to apply. At the end of the open call period, the 60 chosen participants will have access to six NASA technologies for 12 weeks. Students will develop and evaluate a unique commercialization plan for solutions in the agriculture and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries during this time.

“Our parallel18 and the Technology Transfer Office programs have worked hard for months together with NASA to define all the logistics of this competition, which will provide Puerto Rican college students access to innovative technologies,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.

“This represents an exceptional opportunity for participants since they will not only work hand in hand with NASA technology, but they will also be able to meet with the creators of said technologies and receive mentorship while working from Engine-4, a workspace that has been a catalyst for innovation on the island,” she said.

Among the technologies that students will be working on during the competition are manufacturing technologies for the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry such as: Passive Smart Container (MSC-TOPS-36); Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller (MSC-TOPS-76); and Improved Infrared Contrast Analysis and Imaging (MSC-TOPS-34); as well as technologies for agriculture such as: Microwave-Based Water Decontamination System (MSC-TOPS-53); Multi-Stage Filtration System (GRC LEW-TOPS-93) and Flash Pose (GSC-TOPS-102).

Students will also have the opportunity to meet with the inventors of these technologies during the process.

“With this initiative, the Technology Transfer Office wants to provide undergraduates with all the necessary tools to learn about technology transfer, develop, and eventually commercialize their products. Any student who goes through this competition will come out with all the capabilities to do so,” said Josiah Hernández, technology manager at the office.

The 12 weeks of the program will run in a hybrid format: six weeks of virtual learning, and six will be partially face-to-face with all the required security measures at the Engine-4 innovation center in Bayamón. Upon completing the program, students will have the opportunity to present their projects at an Industry Day to interact with potential clients within the pharmaceutical and agricultural industry to validate and create their value propositions. Participants will also be pitching their solutions with a chance to win four cash prizes, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000.

The challenge targets college students who wish to develop hardware products that venture into clean technology (cleantech) and water quality applied to agriculture. The competition targets students who want to understand how to sell or start science-based product startups.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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