Mentoring the Next Generation of Inventors


From left, Daniel C. Flynn, Ph.D., Hari Kalva, Ph.D., Dana Vouglitois, J.D., Patrick Grant, Ph.D., Behnaz Ghoraani, Ph.D., Mehrdad Nojoumian, Ph.D., Valery Forbes, Ph.D., Shihong Huang, Ph.D., Lawrence Toll, Ph.D., Warner Miller, Ph.D., Salvatore Lepore, Ph.D., Andrew Oleinikov, Ph.D., Jang-Jen Wu, Ph.D., Herbert Weissbach, Ph.D., faculty guests, Predrag Cudic, Ph.D., and Gregg Fields, Ph.D.

Mentoring the Next Generation of Inventors

FAU’s NAI Chapter Mentors Student Innovators

FAU’s Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) is collaborating with FAU Wave to build a new mentor program that matches NAI faculty members with undergraduate and graduate students to provide education and guidance in specific research areas.

Dana Vouglitois, associate director of technology development, FAU Division of Research, said the new mentor program fulfills NAI’s goal of educating and mentoring innovative students. “The faculty were impressed by the students’ ideas and wanted to help promote a culture that values innovation at FAU,” Vouglitois said. “This is a great example that we can accomplish more by working together.”

The first year of collaborative efforts coupled two NAI chapter members with two student projects, AutomaticAI and Ace Space.


Hari Kalva, Ph.D., associate chair and professor, College of Engineering and Computer Science and Christina Pappachan, FAU Wave student, joined forces to develop Pappachan’s app called AutomaticAI, which uses artificial intelligence to automate the video editing process.

“I’m happy to mentor as a faculty member, to engage and motivate students who like to work on innovative solutions,” Kalva said. “I definitely want to see more [undergraduate] students coming onboard early in the program to expose them [to the mentor program] in their first year, giving students the next three years to really grow and do other things at FAU.”

Ace Space

Shihong Huang, Ph.D., associate professor, College of Engineering and Computer Science, and FAU Wave students Jose Sanchez, Rodolfo Rivas Matta and Christopher Rodriguez, collaborated on Ace Space, an immersive, virtual reality platform to host hybrid events, such as concerts.

Huang helped the students move Ace Space from a concept to a well-developed project, according to Regina Thompson, assistant director of strategic and economic initiatives, FAU Division of Research.

“Our students are so passionate, it’s great to have a support system of NAI chapter members that share their passion and are willing to give their time to foster new innovations,” Thompson said.

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Innovative Inventors

FAU Inventors Recognized at National Academy of Inventors Luncheon

Florida Atlantic University researchers were recently recognized at the annual National Academy of Inventors (NAI) member recognition luncheon, hosted by the FAU Office of Technology Development.

The NAI chapter at FAU is one of more than 50 university chapters across the country. It was established in 2019 to honor the innovative accomplishments of FAU researchers and to support the mission of the academy to increase greater public understanding of the vital role research, innovation and technology plays in our society. Collectively, this group of 24 researchers are named inventors on 156 issued U.S. patents and includes one NAI senior member and five NAI fellows. Election to NAI fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

FAU’s NAI chapter recently inducted four new members. Read more.

View NAI chapter members here.