Recognizing WPI Entrepreneurs

James Van de Ven, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Allan Katz '07, '09(MS) hope to turn their invention into a licensed product. And the duo just might be on their way. Their invention—a high-speed hydraulic valve for use in switch-mode control in hydraulic hybrid vehicles—won the 2009 Kalenian Award, recognition that supports innovative ideas or the development of commercial products. The award includes a $20,000 prize.

Established in 2006 by Alba Kalenian in memory of her late husband, inventor Aram Kalenian '33, the award encourages innovation and entrepreneurship among WPI students, faculty, and alumni by providing seed money to advance their ideas. This year's award-winning invention is a new method for controlling hydraulic systems that uses a hydraulic valve to rapidly switch between efficient on and off states. The researchers' ultimate goal is to develop the invention into a licensed product at a major hydraulics manufacturer.

Receiving an honorable mention this year were Robert Breznak '09, Alexander Camilo '09, Kevin Harrington '09, and Mark Mordarski '11 of Neuron Robotics, for a system of interconnecting modules, software, and parts that work together to allow researchers, hobbyists, and developers to increase their productivity while reducing their costs and waste.

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