by CHELSEY MATHESON | Friday, Aug 18, 2023
Hari Kalva, Ph.D., Dana Vouglitois and Danny Alice representing Florida Atlantic University at the National Academy of Inventors Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Florida Atlantic University’s chapter of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) was recently honored with the inaugural Chapter of Excellence Award during the NAI Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

NAI recognized FAU’s chapter for its extraordinary efforts to foster the spirit of innovation throughout the university and beyond. Specifically, the chapter proved how it directly aligned its goals and activities with the national organization’s mission by committing to enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation and educating and mentoring innovative students.

“Recognition on a national level demonstrates FAU’s commitment to building a culture that supports translational research and inspires our faculty and student innovators to create groundbreaking technologies that have real-world impact,” said Dana Vouglitois, associate director for FAU’s Office of Technology Development. “This award provides our NAI chapter with the visibility and credibility needed to grow and continue to support our researchers.”

In 2022, FAU’s NAI chapter launched a mentorship program in partnership with FAU Wave, an undergraduate and graduate student applied research and entrepreneurial competition that challenges students to develop innovative ideas targeting societal problems. The initiative matches NAI chapter members with student mentees participating in the Wave competition. Through the program, students get one-on-one guidance from a faculty member in their specific area of interest, as well as access to additional resources to advance their innovations including the opportunity to present at the Next Generation Inventors session at the NAI Annual Meeting.

Undergraduate student Danny Alice was selected to present his invention “Binmo,” a smart waste bin used to create a sustainable and efficient waste system for sanitation workers through automated plastic sorting at this year’s meeting. In addition, FAU chapter member and NAI Fellow Hari Kalva, Ph.D., associate chair and professor in FAU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science within the College of Engineering and Computer Science, led chapter efforts to educate innovative students by incorporating the NAI intellectual property curriculum developed in partnership with the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property into his senior design course. During the course, students work in teams to design and build an engineering project that addresses a real-world problem. Final projects include robots, smart phone applications and new facility designs. Every student enrolled in the course completes the intellectual property curriculum and receives an Innovation Development Certificate from NAI.

The FAU chapter also excelled in enhancing the visibility of innovation and entrepreneurship beyond the university community through special events, news releases, social media engagement and newsletters. The chapter’s signature event is its member recognition luncheon, which celebrates the accomplishments of faculty members in research, innovation and commercialization each spring.

FAU’s NAI chapter has 24 active members, including five NAI Fellows and one senior member. These members represent colleges and institutes throughout the university, including the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute, the Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-Health), the Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE), and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.