photo of home with rooftop solar panels
Among the ideas this year in the Saint-Gobain Design Competition is an ultra-capacitor battery system designed to make renewable energy accessible 24/7 and consumer-friendly by extending battery life.

Case Western Reserve University student innovators compete for $10K Saint-Gobain competition prize

Annual event finals are Wednesday, April 10; six teams present ideas in health care, renewable energy storage to “help improve daily life”

Update: The winning team in the Saint -Gobain competition April 10 was “Polyp Retrieval System,” comprised of Jasmine Sondhi, Rajiv Trehan, Doe Choi, Chao-yi Lu and Sebastian Pino-Peralta. Runnerup was “Thinking Caps,” a team of Ellen Walter, Neil Chavan, Ian Parker, Adam Maraschky and Becca Segel. Third place was “Lumen Polymer,” a team of  Donghui Li, and Zhe Ren.

Big ideas and big money are on the line for teams of Case Western Reserve University student innovators Wednesday (April 10) in the annual Saint-Gobain Design Competition finals.

Competing student teams worked with mentors from the French-based multinational company to develop and build “prototypes using materials that help create great living spaces and help improve daily life by combining comfort and sustainability,” according to the rules for the event.

Prizes are $10,000 for first place, $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third.

This year’s teams are presenting the following innovations:

  • Vaccine Backpack: A custom-designed, lightweight backpack optimized for health care workers serving remote villages in developing countries.
  • Simple Bake: A polymer that helps safely dispose of needles at health care facilities in developing countries.
  • Thinking Caps: An ultra-capacitor battery system designed to make renewable energy accessible 24/7 and consumer-friendly by extending battery life.
  • Switchable Adhesive: A photo-responsive polymer for medical tape that protects skin during application, use and removal.
  • Combined Net Snare: A single-step net snare designed to simplify polyp removal during a colonoscopy, protecting patient health and saving time for doctors.
  • Suspen Sure: A smart, Internet of Things-connected delivery box designed to ensure transplant organs stay healthy during transport so more lives can be saved.

“This competition is a unique opportunity for students to apply their studies to unsolved problems and build the next generation of materials solutions,” said Julia DiCorleto, director of Saint-Gobain Research North America, who will be the keynote speaker Wednesday.  “We are proud to give students the chance to bring their ideas to fruition through mentorship and real-world experience.”

Saint-Gobain logo

The Case School of Engineering has partnered with Saint-Gobain, which designs, manufactures and distributes building and high-performance materials, over the last decade as part of an overall commitment to student innovation and entrepreneurship.

The competition is also open to Case Western Reserve students from its Weatherhead School of Management and from the industrial design program at Cleveland Institute of Art.

With teams composed of students from different disciplines, the program welcomes an interdisciplinary approach—and team success is often driven by diversity of thought.

The competition also encourages engineering innovation within a business context by having interdisciplinary teams develop prototypes of novel ideas and assess their inventions for marketability, profitability and patentability. 

“This competition is an ideal fit for the ecosystem of innovation that has been nurtured and grown at Case Western Reserve,” said Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, the Charles H. Phipps Dean of Engineering and a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Our educational approach includes a commitment to introducing all students to the merits of teamwork, innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, and this allows them to bring those lessons to life.”

The students will make 10-minute presentations of their innovations starting at 6:30 p.m., part of a program from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Tinkham Veale University Center.  There will be an award ceremony at 9 p.m.