Gulliver Preparatory students win national innovation competition

Gulliver students were named Pete Conrad Scholars and selected as winners in the clean energy category

Students representing Gulliver Preparatory unleashed a new wave of product development and entrepreneurism receiving top honors at the 2012 Innovation Summit, the final round of competition for the 2011-12 Spirit of Innovation Challenge (Conrad Challenge).

The three-day conference took place Mar. 29-31 at NASA-Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA. It gathered 15 finalist teams, that have been competing since fall 2011 to develop innovative products that tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues in the areas of aerospace exploration, clean energy, and health and nutrition. The program is hosted by the Conrad Foundation.

Gulliver students were named Pete Conrad Scholars and selected as winners in the clean energy category of the 2011-12 Conrad Challenge. Members from the team, called Operation Gulliver International, include Andrew Ramos, David Mills, Lucia Herrmann, Mike Scopetta and Shayanth Sinnarajah. Their water filtration device removes bacteria, pathogens and viruses from disease-spreading water in developing countries or those hit by natural disasters. Claude Charron serves as the team coach.

“The Conrad Challenge students are the Innovation Generation,” said Nancy Conrad, founder and chair of the Conrad Foundation. “Each year, we are inspired by the brilliance of these young entrepreneurs. When given the opportunity to design their future and create viable products to solve real world challenges, they never cease to amaze me.”

Winning teams were selected by an elite panel of judges consisting of industry experts, leading entrepreneurs, government officials and world-renowned scientists. The judges critiqued each team’s product based on commercial viability, scientific soundness and its potential to support global sustainability. There also was a public voting component. The Conrad Foundation announced the winners on the final day of the Innovation Summit.

All teams competing as finalists will be considered for the Conrad Portal, a mentoring and educational program designed to assist teams in growing as individual innovators, businesspeople and scientists through the practical development of their product ideas.

A key Summit highlight occurred during the opening ceremonies on Mar. 29 — a down-linked message from the International Space Station. On behalf of the Expedition 30 crew, U.S. astronauts Don Pettit and Dan Burbank saluted all of the finalists for their creativity and ingenuity.

“The world needs great thinkers, but more importantly we need great doers,” Pettit said. “By being selected as finalists, it’s clear you are doers. You exemplify what’s great about the Innovation Generation movement. Your products have great potential and this competition provides momentum for your ideas to become real.”

Presented by Lockheed Martin Corporation and PepsiCo, the annual Conrad Challenge inspires high school students around the globe to combine innovation and entrepreneurship with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to create commercially-viable products. Details about the 2012-13 Conrad Challenge will be announced in May.

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