Earth2Block--a kind of interlocking compressed earth block--is cheap, environmentally friendly, easy to manufacture locally, and seismically safe. The California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo team behind Earth2Block is working with a Thai NGO to promote construction with the compressed earth block in the area.

Giradora and Balde a Balde

The Art Center College of Design landed two teams in this year’s Open Minds exhibition: Balde a Balde and Giradora.

Balde a Balde (bucket to bucket" in Spanish), uses a portable faucet that can pour out running water from any container, and features a universal clip, siphon pump, and flow-regulating valve to ensure that users only release as much water as they need.

The Giradora human-powered washer and dryer set allows users to sit on top of the machines and pedal to clean their clothes. The device costs under $40.

Strong Arm Ergonomic Lifting Safety System

Warehouse workers are often underpaid, overworked, and at risk of injury. The Strong Arm, developed by a team from the Rochester Institute of Technology, could eliminate the latter issue. The form-fitting system consists of a series of load-bearing straps that distributes weight to the torso--instead of arms, the neck, shoulders, hands, and lower back.

Medtric Biotech, LLC

Medtric Biotech, a team from Purdue University, has developed an anti-bacterial wound-healing dressing that’s completely free of antibiotics. The innovation, dubbed Osmotec, uses engineered "nanobubbles" that attack fungi and bacteria by disrupting their cell surfaces. The Purdue team is developing Osmotec as a pad, spray, and gel.

GRIT Leveraged Freedom Chair

Created by a team from MIT, the GRIT Leveraged Freedom Chair is a lever-powered wheelchair designed for the rough terrain often found in the developing world. The device can be made out of bicycle parts, which means that it can be manufactured and repaired cheaply anywhere in the world.


Inserogen, a team from University of California, Davis, is developing a plant-based vaccine production platform called SwiftVax that can generate vaccines significantly faster than the traditional method of extracting vaccines from fluid in chicken eggs. SwiftVax, which grows vaccines in tobacco plants, is currently working on a vaccine for Newcastle disease--a devastating disease found in poultry.


In parts of the world where running water is unpredictable, people will often wait by the tap for hours hoping for some water to emerge. NextDrop, a team from the University of California, Berkeley, works with utilities in India to collect and distribute information about water availability to the public.


Developed by students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IntelliWheels consists of a series of additions to off-the-shelf wheelchairs that make the devices easier to propel by giving them bicycle-like gears. They’re developing three models: a three-speed automatic, three-speed manual, and two-speed low-gear.



8 Student Inventions That Could Change The World

Have you read that America’s students are falling behind the rest of the world? Not these award-winning university students, whose inventions are changing everything from water in the developing world to wheelchair design.

Some of the world’s best research comes out of colleges and universities. Usually, professors have a significant hand in it. But the products and companies showcased in Open Minds—an annual exhibition of the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance’s best student teams—showcase what happens when students are given the reins. In the slide show above, we look at some of the most exciting innovations from the Open Minds teams.

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