The Entrepreneurship Program
The Grove School of Engineering of the City College of New York

2012 Kaylie Prize Winners

Congrats to TEAM VISTA and Julintani!

After lengthy deliberations, judges awarded the second annual Kaylie Prize for Entrepreneurship to student engineering team, "VISTA Wearable" for their development of Winnowed from 35 semifinalists, the teams in this ultimate round demonstrated their projects before a judging panel of industry professionals and an audience at CCNY's Grove School of Engineering on May 3.

"The things that will set the winners apart will be the clarity of the idea and the cleanliness of execution," said Professor Dan Steingart, the contest's organizer and faculty supervisor, before the judges' extended sequestration. Competition benefactor and MiniCircuits electronics company founder, Harvey Kaylie, initiated the competition last year to recreate an engineering business environment, he said, for students "to learn about the real world where there is success and failure." "That's the fun of super-engineering," said President Lisa S. Coico, referring to this type of real-world learning. "It is the hunt for new answers. It is the finding out of unexpected things that occur."

Unlike similar competitions, entrants not only designed and built their inventions, but also filed paperwork and prepared business plans as if pitching to investors. "One of the great things about CCNY is you get an education, but it's not handed to you on a silver platter, you have to work at it," said Mr. Kaylie, a CCNY alumnus. VISTA Wearable team members include Computer Engineering seniors Daniel Zuleta, Frank Palmer, Cindy Rodriguez, and Javier Montesino, and PhD Psychology graduate student, Lei Ai. Computer Science Professor Zhigang Zhu advised the team.

The VISTA acronym stands for Vibro Tactile Intelligent System for Travelling Aid. During the team's presentation, Mr. Zuleta explained that without visual cues or in a low vision environment, one naturally navigates by touch, using the hands, a cane, or a guide animal's signals. "We want to enhance this instinct," he said, while freeing the hands for other tasks.

In the original design, the team modified an athletic shirt by stitching seven sensors connected to small vibrating units into the fabric. The ultrasonic sensors detect the distance of nearby obstacles and vibrotactile units convey this information to the wearer with increasing vibrations as the object nears. In a further advance, the team demonstrated wireless "vibrotactile pods" worn as armbands or a harness. Visually-impaired high school students shown on the team's video learned to use the devices in as little as 30 seconds.

The prize will finance a summer of support for the students while they work in the dedicated campus "InnoLab," a Silicon-Valley-garage-like workspace on The City College campus, to refine and bring their invention to market.

The team, "Julintani," won the Dean's Prize of $12,000 and a summer in the InnoLab for their development of a cellphone microdonation ap for alumni. Created by undergraduates Johnny Hoang and Crae Sosa, and graduate students Jeff LeBlanc, Franqueli Mendez, and Elliot Schrock, the ap would assist students while in college, then transform at graduation into an app to make donations to their alma mater easier.

The three other finalist teams, their members and product ideas were: NExT UI: Mohammod Arafat, John Ettikkalayil, Jaeseung Hahn, Ana Kodra. They created a suite of eye-tracking software and devices that allow a user to manipulate items on a computer screen without a mouse or keyboard: EyeMap, EyeDraw, and EyeTracker. Dr. Lucas Parra, professor of biomedical engineering, advised the team.

Cor Vitalis: Nathali Bertran, Mike Cinelli, Nigel Gebodh, Samuel Kupfer, Sara Morsi. This team developed an artificial heart and pumping mechanism that does not destroy blood cells. The heart and pump are composed of a flexible silicon sack housed within a hard biopolymer shell with an attached lightweight saline pump. Dr. John Tarbell, professor of biomedical engineering, advised the team. Nanofils: Howie Chu, Francisco Guzman, Rahul Jayamohanlathika, Alex Skuratovsky, Muhammed Uzair. This team developed a low-cost, long-lasting water filtration system that uses a novel nanoparticle to clear water of particulates, toxins, oils, and organisms. The silver-nylon filter material withstands high temperatures, allowing the filter to be sterilized with steam. Dr. Alex Couzis, professor of chemical engineering, advised the team.

The panel of judges consisted of industry professionals: Mr. Kaylie; Elizabeth Fastiggi, an entrepreneur and private equity investor; Sergey Nazarov, Founder and General Partner of QED Capital; Jon Santiago, Co-Founder and Director of THINK; Katherine Snyder, Bloomberg News Editor and David Tannenbaum, Chief Operating Officer of ThinkNear.

Mr. Kaylie established a $3 million endowment in 2010 to support the prize. He founded and serves as president of Mini Circuits, a high quality radio frequency (RF) and microwave circuit company based in Brooklyn, NY, that has designed, manufactured and distributed electronic components for more than forty years.

"Harvey is the catalyst," said President Lisa S. Coico at the event. "He is all about heart and soul and giving back to society, the heart and the soul of entrepreneurship."