Past Winners

2014 Awardees

2014 Kalenian Awardees

Much congratulations to two research teams that will share the 2014 Kalenian Award. Paul Kalenian and his lovely wife Cathy were present at the Venture Forum program in the Odeum to make the announcement on October 14, 2014. The first recipient was Sarah Hernandez. Sarah and advisor Professor Tanja Dominko's lab has patented a novel system that allows cells to live longer and have proposed the commercialization of a qualitative diagnostic screening device that detects a biomarker associated with pre-cancerous cells. Their research has a revolutionary potential to develop screens and treatments for a disease that patients have yet to develop.

The next recipients were Yan Wang and Qiang Wang who are researching a novel low temperature method to produce iron and steel creating less greenhouse gases as a by-product.   

Paul Kalenian delivered a very meaningful and heartfelt speech and received a warm round of applause. He was extremely pleased with the opportunity to present the awards this year and to meet awardees of years past, Taskin Padir, Diana Lados, and Xiang Chen. The 2014 winners received an engraved plaque as a memento and will also receive a grant.  

WPI is privileged to have alumni like Paul Kalenian paying forward. Through the funding of good ideas in their early stages, the Kalenian Award will enable researchers and inventors to pay it forward in their own way. Congratulations to the 2014 Kalenian Awardees and thank you Paul and Cathy Kalenian for your support and engaged participation in WPI’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Previous Winners

  • Paul and Cathy Kalenian

  • Paul Kalenian

  • 2006 Winners Professor Allen Hoffman, Michael Scarsella, and Stephen Toddes with Paul Kalenian

  • 2007 Winner Albert G. Prescott with David Wolf and Paul Kalenian

  • 2008 Winner Professor Dalin Tang

  • 2009 First Place: WPI Professor James Van de Ven with Paul Kalenian, David Wolf, and WPI alumni Allan Katz '07, '09.

  • 2009 First Honorable Mention: Robert Breznak '09, Mark Mordarski '11, Paul Kalenian, David Wolf, Kevin Harrington '09, and Alex Camillo '09

  • 2010 First Place Rich Sadowski '68 BSME with Mark Urbin '10 MBA and Mac Banks

  • 2014 Awardees Qiang Wang and Sarah Hernandez with Paul Kalenian

2013 Kalenian Awardees

In recognition of an innovative and entrepreneurial business spirit, a team led by Professor Taskin Padir, assistant professor of robotics engineering/electrical and computer engineering, received WPI’s $25,000 Kalenian Award on December 10, 2013 for a project Padir, and robotics engineering doctoral candidate Velin Dimitrov, hope will someday make life easier for those with cognitive or physical disabilities.

The competitive award is often used to further research and bring products or innovations that have the potential to benefit the larger society closer to market. Padir’s team is focusing on helping people with such disabilities interact with assistive devices that not only make tasks easier but that also anticipate their needs.

Officially titled “Electromyography Input Interface: Enabling Intuitive Operation of Assistive Robotic Platforms,” Padir’s work puts research and technology innovation into real use. The high-bandwidth EMG technology allows users to interact more efficiently with an assistive device so any process is faster and more accurate.

Information collected from sensors that record activities of daily life (getting meals or brushing teeth), develops into a finely detailed algorithm, says Padir. As the person uses the device and more information is recorded, an assistive device can be uniquely tailored to more or less predict what a person needs. As Padir explains, although it won’t read someone’s mind, the device will accurately estimate an individual’s intent. “This can help an individual interact with a device in a smoother way,” he says. “This is a small step in a big vision.”

Receiving the award means the team can bring the project closer to real use. “There are others who are using similar approaches,” says Padir, “but we think the customizing ability of the sensor system makes it unique. We see the Kalenian Award as an enabling award to improve the prototype and results with solid research,” he says. Eventually, they will seek funding from national sources like the National Science Foundation, but the award offers validation. “It’s reassuring that they looked at the project and saw the value in it,” says Padir. “It gives us confidence.”

The Kalenian Award is given in honor of the late Aram Kalenian ’33, an inventor and founder of Vee Arc Corp. It was established by Aram’s wife, Alba, in 2006. Twenty-two applications came in this year, five of which advanced to the short list, says Gina Betti, associate director of WPI’s Collaborative for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Aram’s son, Paul, decides who receives the final award. He says many applications had great merit, but the winning project exemplified his father’s outlook. “His concept was that a WPI education is best utilized by inventing, patenting, and employment,” says Paul Kalenian from his home in Santa Fe. He believes in paying it forward when it comes to funding worthy projects, and says he hopes that pattern is continued with each award. “If things work out well for a recipient,” he says, “I’d like to see them come back to WPI in five or 50 years and say, ‘The reason I made it in this world is because of this and I want to do the same thing.’”

Padir notes that while Hollywood features human-thinking robotic devices in the movies, society is pretty far away from that right now. But using assistive devices to help people enrich their lives and make daily tasks easier is thrilling. “These are the first attempts to take theory and put it into the hands of those who can use the technology,” he says. “That’s very exciting to me.”

Dimitrov enjoys seeing the plan take shape from an idea into actual use. “In conducting this project, we talked with people and saw the problems they have with daily life activities,” says Dimitrov. “But people don’t want robots to do everything; they want to be in control. It’s about how they interact with the technology.”

The award also fosters a long-cherished WPI tradition between professors and students. “As a professor I always enjoy seeing my research team learn and grow in this field as experts,” says Padir. “Through this effort we are educating a new generation of engineers who are sensitive to the needs of society.”

By Julia Quinn-Szcesuil 

2012 Kalenian Award Winners

2012 Kalenian Awardees 

An assistant physics professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and an alumnus who now serves as an intellectual property attorney will share the 2012 Kalenian Award, the university's top prize recognizing commercialization potential for a given invention. Izabela Stroe, the physics professor, won for an early detection device she is developing for Alzheimer's Disease patients, while Michael T. Abramson (WPI '05) was recognized for a product that will identify odorless, colorless, and tasteless so-called "date-rape drugs" that are surreptitiously slipped in one's drink. The pair will each receive $12,500 to help develop their inventions. WPI officials also recognized Kevin Harrington, (WPI '10), who received $5,000 in in-kind legal services from Boston-based intellectual property law firm Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C., for development of a STEM education kit (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) for young learners. Full Press Release

2011 Kalenian Awardees

The 2011 Kalenian Award is presented to Diana Lados and Xiang Chen, for their Hybrid Materials Project. Congratulations!  Paul Kalenian said, "Their application was originally submitted in 2010 and was noted as first runner up in the 2010 Kalenian Award Competition. Last year they were encouraged to re apply, showing improvements and progress. This year's application showed both perseverance and progress toward their goal of documented demonstration of concept, and therefore qualified as this year's unanimous choice amongst the judges. We congratulate Diana and Xiang for validating their concept and hope that this recognition and monetary award will speed their progress toward implementation in industry."

"Today, in the transportation sector, 75% of the annual energy consumption (~23 Quadrillion Btu) and CO2 emissions (~1,600 Million Metric Tons) happen on the nation's roads, primarily from light-duty vehicles.  Increased energy efficiency and reduced carbon pollution are becoming global priorities (e.g. CAFE standards for light vehicle are set to 35 mpg by 2020; greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be reduced by 28% by 2020).  We have created a high-strength lightweight material that may accelerate reaching our nation's ambitious transportation energy and environmental goals.  To meet these goals, the transition to renewable and clean energy must be complemented by higher energy efficiencies through vehicle weight reduction.  Using novel high-performance lighter metals is a most effective way to reduce vehicle weight.  In 2009, over 53M automobiles were produced worldwide.  Every 10% automobile mass reduction results in up to 8% improvement in fuel economy.  Energy savings, manufacturing efficiencies, and performance and environmental benefits could be tremendous using our materials in the transportation industries.  And, even more applications for our invention were discovered since last year's proposal!" said Professor Lados.

In the view of judge David Wolf of Wolf Greenfield & Sacks, P.C., the program is advanced and well-thought out, contains innovative ideas, is furthest along in the development that those programs examined.  Further, it apparently involves some fundamental work which required more than casual testing and examination.  Proof of concept is also well under way and will be quite appealing to this in the investment field who will be able to rely upon the proponents of this hybrid material to foresee and solve upcoming problems.  In addition, the product and its program is likely to make a contribution to the advancement of hybrid metals and use of transportation.

2010 Kalenian Award Winner

Congratulations to Rich Sadowski, BSME Class of 1968, for winning the 2010 Kalenian Award! After graduating from WPI in 1968, Rich had a very rewarding and productive 40+ year professional career in the electricity generation industry.  It all started at Riley Stoker Corporation in Worcester, MA, as a research engineer, where he gained significant exposure to all forms of fossil fuel fired electric power generation industrial and utility central stations all over the world. In 1971 the Environmental Protection Agency's New Source Performance Standards set emission limits to several pollutants and he spent most of his time working to reduce the production and release of such pollutants to the atmosphere. He was selected one of four utility boiler air emissions experts for a U.S. State Department sponsored technology exchange with the Soviet Union 18 years before "pereistroika & glastnost". He became intimately familiar with all the newest fuel burning methodologies like fluidized bed combustion as well as gasification and reforming technologies working as a contractor to the DOE for many years. He received patents on a gasification apparatus and process and was the recipient of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) DOE award which proved the concept of making inexpensive hydrogen fuel from wood chips or grass.  

In recent years, he has been developing a patentable method of reflecting solar photons onto commercially available photovoltaic panels while simultaneously taking advantage of their ability to produce much more electricity by tracking the sun and operating at low temperatures with forced cooling.  To reduce cost he uses $1 per sq ft reflector panels which reduces the necessary $80 per sq ft PV Panels by 75%. He used many resource recovered automobile parts to build his Solar Joules prototypes.  Therefore, the use of salvaged sealed wheel no maintenance bearings for dual axis trackers and windshield wiper motors for both actuator drives could be a "low carbon footprint" way to provide new jobs at home that cannot be exported abroad. To date he has succeeded in producing between 4 and 5 times the annual solar electricity as would be produced from the same commercially available roof mounted photovoltaic panel.  His Patent Pending technology provides for the production of aesthetic concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) "plug & play" modules. Its benefit to society stems from its ability to produce so much additional electricity that its installed cost would be reduced to less than 9 cents per kWh making it more cost effective than any conventional form of electricity production including nuclear.  And it produces solar electricity with NO carbon emissions or nuclear waste. 

A WPI MBA program final semester project is currently underway to evaluate and select the most appropriate commercialization route for this technology.  There exist many more pathways to profit return than is typical, so the WPI MBA Project Team is likely to provide critically important societal as well as potential internet sales, licensing, franchising, teaming and manufacturing considerations. The Kalenian Award will provide sufficient funding to allow Rich to complete the worldwide patenting process and to build a completely self-contained 3 kWp sized Solar Joule module.

2009 Kalenian Award Winners

The winners of the 2009 Kalenian Award were announced at the June 9, 2009 WPI Venture Forum program. Judges Paul Kalenian, McRae Banks and Jerry Schaufeld were present. The winning team was headed by WPI Professor James Van de Ven with Allan Katz 07 (BS), 09 (MS), who are advancing a valve for switch-mode control, a new method for controlling hydraulic systems that use a hydraulic valve to rapidly switch between efficient on-and-off states. This technology gives hydraulic hybrid vehicles a performance and cost advantage over electric hybrid systems. Switch-mode hydraulics is also applicable to alternative energy technologies such as wind turbines, improving efficiency in a smaller, lighter, and more economical package. The award will support the team's technical and entrepreneurial plans, which include further testing of the prototype, designing and building a second-generation prototype, creating performance specifications, obtaining a full patent, developing a marketing plan, and licensing the technology for further development and production.

The winners of the 2009 Kalenian Award were announced at the June 9, 2009 WPI Venture Forum program. Judges Paul Kalenian, McRae Banks and Jerry Schaufeld were present. The winning team was headed by WPI Professor James Van de Ven with Allan Katz 07 (BS), 09 (MS), who are advancing a valve for switch-mode control, a new method for controlling hydraulic systems that use a hydraulic valve to rapidly switch between efficient on-and-off states. This technology gives hydraulic hybrid vehicles a performance and cost advantage over electric hybrid systems. Switch-mode hydraulics is also applicable to alternative energy technologies such as wind turbines, improving efficiency in a smaller, lighter, and more economical package. The award will support the team's technical and entrepreneurial plans, which include further testing of the prototype, designing and building a second-generation prototype, creating performance specifications, obtaining a full patent, developing a marketing plan, and licensing the technology for further development and production.

2009 Kalenian Award - Honorable Mention

Receiving an honorable mention was the Neuron Robotics team, comprised of Robert Breznak (CS '09), Kevin Harrington (CS '09), Alex Camillo (ECE '09), and contributor Mark Mordarski (RBE '11). Their system of interconnecting modules, software, and parts that work together will allow researchers, hobbyists, and developers to increase their productivity while reducing costs and waste. Breznak's goal is to become the commercial leader in robotic module development and to sell his company's products through an online store and by creating distribution channels through similar vendors. For more information on this year's proposals, please contact the office of the Collaborative for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Receiving an honorable mention was the Neuron Robotics team, comprised of Robert Breznak (CS '09), Kevin Harrington (CS '09), Alex Camillo (ECE '09), and contributor Mark Mordarski (RBE '11). Their system of interconnecting modules, software, and parts that work together will allow researchers, hobbyists, and developers to increase their productivity while reducing costs and waste. Breznak's goal is to become the commercial leader in robotic module development and to sell his company's products through an online store and by creating distribution channels through similar vendors. For more information on this year's proposals, please contact the office of the Collaborative for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

2008 Kalenian Award Winner

Congratulations to Dalin Tang, Professor of Computational Mathematics and Biomedical Engineering at WPI. His research in Image-Based Computational Mechanical Analysis and Indexing for Cardiovascular Diseases led to the invention of a medical software diagnostic tool that will be used by medical doctors to improve their ability to assess a patient's disease stage and make better treatment decisions.   A US patent has been filed and an initial market analysis has been performed. The invention improves the prior art that lacks mechanical analysis by providing a 3D MRI-based multi-component model with fluid-structure interactions for mechanical analysis of atherosclerotic plaques, aneurysm, and heart diseases Today, there are 20 surgeries performed simply to prevent one possible rupture, due to the lack of good diagnostic tools. 

Congratulations to Dalin Tang, Professor of Computational Mathematics and Biomedical Engineering at WPI. His research in Image-Based Computational Mechanical Analysis and Indexing for Cardiovascular Diseases led to the invention of a medical software diagnostic tool that will be used by medical doctors to improve their ability to assess a patient's disease stage and make better treatment decisions.   A US patent has been filed and an initial market analysis has been performed. The invention improves the prior art that lacks mechanical analysis by providing a 3D MRI-based multi-component model with fluid-structure interactions for mechanical analysis of atherosclerotic plaques, aneurysm, and heart diseases Today, there are 20 surgeries performed simply to prevent one possible rupture, due to the lack of good diagnostic tools. 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the No. 1 killer in the United States and was responsible for forty-percent of all deaths in 2000.  Thirty-six percent of 45 year olds and eighty-percent of those 75 and older have CVD (AHA 2005 statistics).  More than sixty-percent of all heart attacks are caused by rupture of a vulnerable plaque. A large number of victims of the disease who are apparently healthy die suddenly without prior symptoms. Available screening and diagnostic methods are insufficient to identify the victims before the event occurs.  Dalin's team is developing computational methods for non-invasive screening methods for early identification, diagnosis, prevention and optimal treatment of a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.

2007 Kalenian Award Winner

The winner of the 2007 Kalenian Award was announced at the June 12, 2007 WPI Venture Forum program. During the ceremony, Paul Kalenian commended the fine work of all of the applicants and acknowledged the addition of the in-kind sponsorship of Wolf Greenfield.  Crescent Innovations, a proposal submitted by WPI Alumnus, Albert G. Prescott, received the Award. Prescott's company is inventing products for pain management.  Crescent Innovations Inc. was founded in 2000 to develop products to treat TMJ disorders, degenerative joint disease, bone disease, fractures, and more, using proprietary polymer technology. These state-of-the-art polymers are used to treat both chronic and acute pain as well as controlled release/drug delivery products. The company has received a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health, and has worked with Fortune 500 companies.

The winner of the 2007 Kalenian Award was announced at the June 12, 2007 WPI Venture Forum program. During the ceremony, Paul Kalenian commended the fine work of all of the applicants and acknowledged the addition of the in-kind sponsorship of Wolf Greenfield.  Crescent Innovations, a proposal submitted by WPI Alumnus, Albert G. Prescott, received the Award. Prescott's company is inventing products for pain management.  Crescent Innovations Inc. was founded in 2000 to develop products to treat TMJ disorders, degenerative joint disease, bone disease, fractures, and more, using proprietary polymer technology. These state-of-the-art polymers are used to treat both chronic and acute pain as well as controlled release/drug delivery products. The company has received a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health, and has worked with Fortune 500 companies.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important this award is to us at Crescent Innovations,” said Prescott. “The technology we are developing to treat bone defects will ultimately have deep and far reaching benefits to every one of the 50 million people in America who have ever had a bone fracture or defect. We will use the money specifically to develop prototypes, and to push this technology to commercialization.”

Mr. Prescott stepped to the stage to receive a giant mock check and have photographs snapped with Paul Kalenian and David Wolf. Mr. Kalenian stated that he is looking forward to next year's competition and thanked everyone that participated this year, including the judges.

2006 Kalenian Award Winner

The winner of the 2006 Inaugural Kalenian Award was announced on May 9th at a WPI Venture Forum Monthly Program. Paul Kalenian commended the fine work of all of the applicants and stated that it was very difficult to narrow the field down to one proposal. The 2006 Kalenian Award went to "Powered Arm Orthosis", a proposal submitted by WPI Professor Allen Hoffman and two graduate students, Steven Paul Toddes and Michael Scarsella. The powered arm orthosis is a device that allows its wearers to regain near-normal functionality of an arm when conflicted with muscle dysfunction or weakness from diseases such as Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson's Disease. The very surprised team of three stepped to the stage to receive a giant mock check and have photographs snapped with Paul Kalenian. Mr. Kalenian stated that he is looking forward to next year's competition and thanked everyone that participated this year, including Provost Carol Simpson and Department of Management Head Mac Banks for assisting in the judging process.

The winner of the 2006 Inaugural Kalenian Award was announced on May 9th at a WPI Venture Forum Monthly Program. Paul Kalenian commended the fine work of all of the applicants and stated that it was very difficult to narrow the field down to one proposal. The 2006 Kalenian Award went to "Powered Arm Orthosis", a proposal submitted by WPI Professor Allen Hoffman and two graduate students, Steven Paul Toddes and Michael Scarsella. The powered arm orthosis is a device that allows its wearers to regain near-normal functionality of an arm when conflicted with muscle dysfunction or weakness from diseases such as Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson's Disease. The very surprised team of three stepped to the stage to receive a giant mock check and have photographs snapped with Paul Kalenian. Mr. Kalenian stated that he is looking forward to next year's competition and thanked everyone that participated this year, including Provost Carol Simpson and Department of Management Head Mac Banks for assisting in the judging process.

 
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