During the spring semester, UMD's Office of Technology Commercialization hosts the Invention of the Year Reception to honor university inventors and inventions from the previous year. Clark School of Engineering faculty, researchers and students are regular recipients in the three invention categories.

Explore past Clark School Invention of the Year Awards through the years below.

2015

Information Science Category

New Advancements in Face Detection Technology

UMD researchers Ramalingam Chellappa, Rajeev Ranjan, and Vishal Patel (Ph.D. ’10) invented a new face detection software that can recognize gender and pose and extract reference points from photos. The team envisions the technology will be used in multiple fields, particularly in medical, security, psychology, surveillance, and social networking applications.

“From the early diagnosis of autism to the identification of long-term missing children through aging modeling, this invention has the potential to make a significant impact on human lives,” said Chellappa.

Life Science Category

A New Vaccine for Leukemia

UMD researchers Scott Walsh and Lila Kashi collaborated with National Cancer Institute researchers Scott Durum, Julie Hixon, and Wen Qing Li to create an innovative new Leukemia treatment that targets genes in cancer cells that have never been targeted before. The team developed two new antibodies that attack cancer cells and can also be used for diagnostic purposes.

“These antibodies may have the potential to load the oncologist’s tool belt with new treatment strategies for children suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia,” said Walsh, “and the antibodies may also be clinically useful to treat Leukemia in adults.” 

Physical Science Category Category

Safer and More Affordable Energy Storage

Developing green energy is a huge priority at UMD, and researchers Chunsheng Wang and Liumin Suo partnered with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory researchers Kang Xu, Oleg Borodin, and Arthur V. Cresce to invent a new Water-in-Salt electrolyte battery that is safer and better for the environment than standard lithium-ion batteries without sacrificing power.

“Our invention has the potential to transform the energy industry by replacing flammable, toxic lithium-ion batteries with our safe, green Water-in-Salt battery,” said Wang. “This technology may increase the acceptance and improve the utility of battery-powered electric vehicles, and enable large-scale energy storage of intermittent energy generators like solar and wind.”


2014

Life Science Categorys Category

A Groundbreaking New Bacteria Detection Method for Testing Complex Food Samples

Another groundbreaking life sciences invention is an apparatus developed by Dr. Javier Atencia-Fernandez, research assistant professor at the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. The device can cause bacteria present in food to actually self-separate so that researchers and users in independent labs that perform food safety tests for the food industry can rapidly detect pathogens in food samples. It only takes the device 30 minutes to extract 75% of the bacteria in a food sample, and two hours and 30 minutes to extract 99%. By comparison, existing processes take 12 to 36 hours.

"In many cases, especially fresh produce, there is no regulation and sometimes companies just send fresh produce to grocery stores without having done any tests just because of the time it takes,” Atencia-Fernandez said.

Physical Science Category Category

A Revolutionary, High Energy Density Nanopore Battery

Dr. Gary Rubloff, professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Maryland NanoCenter, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Sang Bok Lee, and their research team invented a nanopore battery with high energy density and excellent capacity retention. The battery is made of nanotubular electrodes and an electrolyte, all confined in an anodic aluminum oxide nanopore. It is an all-in-one device and shows promise for higher energy availability for a given power density due to larger surface area and shorter transport time for the ions in the electrode material. It signifies the potential that nanostructure design has for high power electrochemical storage.

“We are excited about taking the scientific results in our energy frontier [research] center . . . and trying to turn that into something that makes a difference in energy storage and in the consequence of the future of the society,” Rubloff said.

Information Science Categorys Category

Verifying the Source of Video Streams Using Electric Network Frequency (ENF) Signals

This nomination is a novel technique to measure Electric Network Frequency (ENF) signals by exploiting the rolling shutter mechanism in a modern Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor or CMOS-based camera. The technology, developed by Dr. Min Wu, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, and the Institute for Systems Research, along with her research team, enables the source verification of a video stream by extracting the ENF signals using a camera that views objects lit with incandescent or fluorescent lighting with a rolling shutter.

“It’s nice to see that the university has recognized and encouraged us and we are thankful [to] all the offices involved for helping us realize the most potential we can get for the work that we do,” said Adi Hajj-Ahmad, Wu's research assistant.


2013

Physical Science Category Category

"Method for Rapid, Inexpensive Prototyping of Microfluidic Devices," invented by Professor Donald DeVoe (ME) and Ph.D. student Omid Rahmanian (ME), offers a unique approach to prototype patterned and sealed microfluidic devices from homogenous thermoplastic subtrates. The simplicity of this desktop manufacturing method allows a designer to directly define channel features on a thermoplastic substrate with total cycle times between 30-90 minutes from initial design concept to final device.

Information Science Categorys Category

Professor K.J. Ray Liu (ECE) and graduate research assistants Feng Han, Yu-Han Yang, Beibei Wang, and Yongle Wu developed "Time-Reversal Division Multiple Access for Wireless Broadband Communications," a low cost, energy-efficient, and secure solution in multi-user wireless broadband communication networks. The quickly emerging area of wireless home area networks (WHAN) for multi-media and data, and other well suited applications such as radio frequency identification (RFID), with its enhanced pin-pointing resolution and extended communication range, are primary targets for entry into the


2012

Information Science Category

A team from the Clark School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, including Professor Min Wu and graduate students Ravi Garg and Avinah L. Varna, was recognized for "Environmental Signatures for Forensic Analysis and Alignment of Media Recordings," which created a natural timestamp for audio and visual recordings.


2011

Information Science Category

Professor K.J. Ray Liu and his team won for their "Active Sensing for Dynamic Spectrum Access" project. They invented a novel fingerprinting method to authenticate and classify wireless transmissions, which will prevent wasteful processing of unintended transmissions and permits nodes to quickly recognize unauthorized users. Graduate student Nathan Goergen and research associate Wan-Yi Lin contributed to this project.

Life Science Category

Silvia Muro, Assistant Professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, and Rasa Ghaffarian, a graduate student, were honored for "Targeted Carriers for Drug Delivery across the Gastrointestinal Epithelium," which increases the effectiveness of orally-administered drugs that have to travel through the harsh environment of the digestive system.

Physical Science Category

A team from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, including Professors Ichiro Takeuchi and Manfred Wuttig, and Adjunct Professor Jun Cui, won for "Thermoelastic Cooling," which is a more compact, energy efficient and environmentally-friendly cooling system than today's commercial refrigeration technology. The project will help contribute to U.S. energy consumption reduction goals. Research assistant Yiming Wu also contributed to this project.


2010

Information Science Category

Professor Carol Espy-Wilson (ECE/ISR) and research graduate assistant Srikanth Vishnubhotla were recognized for "Multi-Pitch Tracking in Adverse Environments," which addresses a problem that sounds familiar to anyone who has used a cell phone in a public place: background noise. The novel algorithm "cleans up" speech by separating the voices of the primary speakers from their noisy environments. Espy-Wilson plans to develop the technology through her start-up company, OmniSpeech. The technology also can be used to improve sound quality in hearing aids, military sniper and subject identification, and teleconferencing.

Physical Science Category

"Nano Arrays for Energy Storage," invented by professors Gary Rubloff (materials science and engineering, Maryland NanoCenter, UMERC and ISR) and Sang Bok Lee (chemistry), research assistant Parag Banerjee and others, won in the Physical Science Category category. Their invention offers high-density energy storage for vehicle and electronic device batteries. The arrays have a capacity that is 10 times higher than available products and can be produced using inexpensive materials. Rubloff and Lee plan to start a company to bring the nano arrays to market.


2009

Physical Science Category

Invention of the Year 2009 -- Physical Science Category In the Physical Science Category category, Martin Peckerar (professor of electrical and computer engineering [ECE]) and Neil Goldsman (professor of ECE and the Institute for Systems Research [ISR]), won for their "World's Highest Energy Density Thin-Film Battery." The battery will make possible a number of stronger, smaller products, including wireless sensor networks, active RFID, wearable electronics and medical devices. Yves Ngu, Zeynep Dilli and George Metze from the National Security Agency also worked on this project.

Life Science Category

Invention of the Year 2009 -- Life Science CategoryIn the Life Science Category category, Matt Dowling (a graduate student in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering) and Srini Raghavan (chemical and biomolecular engineering associate professor) were honored for their "nano-velcro" chitosan-based bandage, which could significantly reduce mortality rates among cases with uncontrollable bleeding. The researchers collaborated with Dr. John Hess and Dr. Grant Bochicchio from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Information Science Category

Invention 2009In the Information Science Category category, John Baras (professor of ECE and ISR) was recognized for his work with the Army Research Laboratory on a key exchange system to secure Internet transactions. His invention is of interest for national defense systems, major banking companies, and other industries where secrecy is of great importance.


2008

Physical Science Category

The Physical Science Category Invention of the Year went to mechanical engineering professors Jaydev Desai and S. K. Gupta along with University of Maryland School of Medicine professors Marc Simard and Rao Gullapalli. Clark School graduate students Nicholas Pappafotis and Wojciech Bejgerowski were also recognized. The group's invention is a robot that can assist surgeons operating on brain tumors.

Life Science Category

The Invention of the Year in the Life Science Categorys went to Prof. Peter Kofinas and graduate student Daniel Janiak in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. Their invention is a molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) capable of filtering viruses from the blood.


2007

Information Science Category

The team that won the top prize in the Information Science Category category included Clark School Professor Rama Chellappa (above), electrical and computer engineering, and graduate student Aravind Sundaresan. They developed a technology called Markerless Motion Capture, which is a way to analyze and express human motion in mathematical terms. This model marks an advancement from previous human motion capture methods, which use passive markers that are attached to different body parts of the subject and are therefore intrusive in nature. It has important applications in different areas such as biomechanics, surveillance, computer animation and human-computer interaction.

Physical Science Category

Fire protection engineering Chair and Professor Marino di Marzo and Professor Amr Baz, mechanical engineering, were runners-up in the physical science category for their work, “Integrating Sensor Monitoring the Allowable Heat Exposure Time for Firefighters.”


2005

Physical Science Category

The Physical Science Category winners developed a patent-pending technology that for the first time can produce hydrogen from hydrocarbon fuels without the high levels of carbon monoxide that traditionally occur in this type of process. The majority of commercial hydrogen is produced from hydrocarbon fuels. The team included Clark School Assistant Professor Gregory S. Jackson, mechanical engineering, UM Prof. Bryan W. Eichhorn and graduate student Shenghu Zhou.

Life Science Category

The team that garnered the top prize in the life science category has produced new, patent-pending biomaterials for tissue engineering that avoid problems with premature degradation associated with previous materials developed for growing new cells within the body.

Team members included Clark School Assistant Professor John P. Fisher and students Parth Modi and Jennifer Lynn Moreau, all chemical and biomolecular engineering, accompanied UM alum Sachiko Kaihara.

Information Science Category

Clark School Assistant Professor Maria I. Klapa and graduate assistant Harin Kanani, both of the chemical and biomolecular engineering department, won in this category for a patent-pending metabolomics technology that enables highly accurate and simultaneous measurement of hundreds of metabolites (e.g. glucose, amino acids) in biological systems, for uses such as early disease diagnosis, personalized nutrition and medicine, functional genomics, and safe use of genetically modified food.


2004

Physical Science Category Category

Assistant professor Benjamin Shapiro (Aerospace Engineering, Institute for Systems Research), Elisabeth Smela (Mechanical Engineering), Pamela Ann Abshire (Electrical and Computer Engineering, ISR), and Denis Wirtz of Johns Hopkins (shown clockwise in photo) have developed a new technology that will enable selective pathogen detection by exploiting the signaling machinery of living cells.

Cell-level pathogen detection will function by monitoring the response of cells when exposed to a specific external pathogen. Developed by University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University researchers, this technology combines bioengineering with micro-engineered hardware, creating an improved system for pathogen detection. This technology has applications in homeland security, pathogen detection and pharmaceutical screening. A U.S. patent application is pending.

Information Science Categorys Category

Post-doctoral researcher Weifeng Su (ISR), professor K.J. Ray Liu (ECE, ISR), and alum Zoltan Safar (ECE, ISR) (shown top to bottom in photo) have developed three space-frequency code design methods that can guarantee reliable data transmissions at high data rates in broadband wireless communications.

This is the first coding scheme to guarantee both full rate and full diversity in such communications. No other technology demonstrates the same functionality. This technology has potential applications in the design of the next generation of broadband wireless communication systems.


Top