Frequently Asked Questions
What are the goals of the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition?
The Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition seeks to serve as a catalyst for burgeoning inventors. Prizes will be awarded annually to inventive graduate students, and teams of undergraduate students from any college or university in the U.S. The award publicity can expose winners to the technology, engineering, science, business, and investment communities.
Who is eligible to apply?
Student applicants must:
- Be a full-time matriculated student in the Spring semester of 2014
- Be an undergraduate student-founded and led team from the same university (if applying to the undergraduate prize)
- Serve as an inspiration to young people through creativity, outreach or mentoring activities.
- Own the Intellectual Property of all inventions entered into the competition.
- Consider environmental sustainability as an important factor in their inventive work.
** Patents are encouraged but not required. **
All graduate students, and undergraduate student-founded and led teams of 2-5 students, who are currently enrolled are eligible to apply for this award, regardless of major. Individual undergraduate students cannot apply without a team. Students that are scheduled to graduate during the spring semester in which the award is presented are also eligible. Students who will graduate prior to the spring semester are not eligible.
What does it mean to be “an undergraduate student-founded and led team”?
Undergraduate teams must be composed of students who are undergraduates, studying at the same school. An undergraduate student-founded and led team is one in which the idea for the invention was generated by an undergraduate student who then built and is actively leading this team of 2-5 undergraduates to develop and commercialize that invention. The team must identify a member who will serve as the group leader and primary representative.
Is the candidate/are the candidates required to have any patents?
No, the candidate(s) is not required to have any patents. However, the Lemelson-MIT Program strongly encourages applicants to discuss in their application any IP they have filed or plan to file and correctly attribute ownership, i.e. candidates should own the IP of any invention entered into the competition. The supplemental materials section is an excellent place to submit patent abstracts.
Does the candidate forfeit intellectual property rights by submitting an application?
The Lemelson-MIT Program asks screening committees and the judging panel to acknowledge that student applications are distributed solely for the candidacy of the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition, and should not be reproduced for other purposes. Candidates are advised to consult their school’s Intellectual Property policies as directed by their Technology Licensing Office, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office to ensure protection of their intellectual property, if applicable.
Are winners required to use the award money for research?
No, the money is an unrestricted cash gift.
What is required of winners?
The winners are asked to participate in media opportunities arranged by the Lemelson-MIT Program to celebrate their winning and recognize their work. Winners are required to attend EurekaFest, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s annual multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit, which will be held at MIT in June of the award year. Attendance at EurekaFest is at the Lemelson-MIT Program’s expense. The program may request the winner to participate in future public education activities as applicable.
When is the deadline to apply?
The deadline to apply for the 2014 Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition is Tuesday, December 31, 2013.
Who are the judges?
There is a two-tiered judging process:
Screening Committees who have expertise in the candidates' fields areas (i.e. Prize categories: Healthcare and Consumer Products).
(2nd and final round):
A judging panel composed of experts from a variety of disciplines such as mechanical engineering, bioengineering, physics, medicine, and finance.
What criteria are used to judge the candidates?
Applicants will be evaluated by category-specific screening groups and a prestigious national jury on a range of criteria including:
- Portfolio of inventiveness for (graduate students) and single-specific inventions (per team of undergraduates)
- Potential adoption and/ or commercialization of inventions, to help boost the economy
- Ability and experience to be a role model for youth
- Supporting letters
No criterion is considered paramount. Judges are asked to take a holistic view of each candidate with respect to the goals of the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition.
What makes an excellent application?
An excellent application is well presented, complete, and follows instructions (e.g. word count). The material should be written for a technically literate audience, similar to the writing style in Scientific American or Technology Review.
How many student prizes are awarded each year?
There will be a total of four prizes awarded in 2014:
- “Cure It” category: one $15,000 prize for one Graduate student, and one $10,000 prize for a team of undergraduate students.
- “Use It” category: one $15,000 prize for one Graduate student, and one $10,000 prize for a team of undergraduate students.
I would like to apply – but my project does not fit into either of this year’s categories. What can I do?
The Lemelson-MIT Program will award prizes in additional categories in subsequent years. Future Prize Categories could include:
“Drive it!” (reimagining transportation technologies)
“Eat it!” (reimagining food and agriculture)
“Wear it” (reimagining wearable consumer products)
“Network it!” (reimagining how products and services are delivered through web-based networks)
Is the prize given to college students with proposed work/ inventions?
No, the work must be existing, with potential for real commercialization, implementation, or greater impact.
What is the Lemelson-MIT Program's mission?
The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors, and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.
The Lemelson-MIT Program is dedicated to honoring the acclaimed and unsung heroes who have helped improve our lives through invention. We inspire and encourage great inventors through various outreach programs such as Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams, a non-competitive, team-based national grants initiative for high school students. The cornerstone of the Lemelson-MIT Program is a prestigious awards program that includes the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize and the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition.
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