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Contest seeks inventions designed for public service

An event to launch a competition sponsored by Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action and Service (IDEAS) , a new student program at MIT, will be held tomorrow (Feb. 7) at 7:30 p.m. in Room 1-390.

The IDEAS competition provides an opportunity to develop inventions and designs that address community needs. Using $10,000 in cash prizes as well as additional materials grants, MIT students can develop prototypes or complete plans for public-service-oriented projects.

IDEAS organizers explained in their statement, "We welcome a broad range of applications. Projects may range from the nontechnical to the highly technical, and may be targeted at local or international communities. For example, students may design an innovative microfinance program targeted at artisans in Zimbabwe, or design a new type of filter to provide clean drinking water for rural communities in Bangladesh.

"Locally, students could work on designing a new type of bicycle frame for athletes participating in Special Olympics competitions, or build high-tech speech recognition toys for autistic children in Boston. Innovative ways of providing social services are also welcome. For example, students may develop new programs for a battered women's shelter, or a new approach for addressing substance abuse on college campuses."

Jointly sponsored by the Edgerton Center and the Public Service Center, the 2002 IDEAS competition is made possible by a d'Arbeloff grant provided by the MIT Corporation.

Students will submit entries for the IDEAS competition in two phases, with an initial application due on March 15 and a final submission on April 26. Projects will be judged on their innovativeness, feasibility and impact.

At tomorrow's kickoff event, attendees can get application packets and learn more about how to enter the competition. The guest speaker will be Melvin King, lecturer emeritus in urban studies and planning, and founder of the Community Fellows Program. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information, e-mail or see the IDEAS web site .

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 6, 2002.

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