$20,000 Illinois Innovation Prize Finalists Chosen

4/22/2015 Preena Patel

For More Information:
Stephanie Larson
Technology Entrepreneur Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(217) 265-5456



URBANA, Ill. (April 21, 2015) – With a land-grant heritage as a foundation, the University of Illinois pioneers innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience. The University is a world leader in research, innovation and leadership that distinguishes itself by creating knowledgepreparing students for lives of impact, and addressing critical societal needs through invention and entrepreneurship.


Today, the Technology Entrepreneur Center announces the three finalists for the Illinois Innovation Prize, which awards $20,000 to students who stand out as a passionate innovator and entrepreneur, who are working with world changing technology and are seen as a role model for others. Each student was nominated by mentors, professors, or a faculty members on the basis of the nominees’ passion for innovation and work in technology.


Andreas C. Cangellaris, Dean of the College of Engineering, will announce the winner among the finalists at a showcase and ceremony scheduled for Friday, April 24, 2015 at the Illini Union (1401 W. Green St, Urbana; Illini Room C)). The innovation showcase will begin at 10:00am; ceremony at 2:00pm. The event is open to the public and is part of the Entrepreneurship Forum taking place at the Illini Union that day.

Finalists for the 2015 Illinois Innovation Prize include:

Amy Doroff; Senior in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering

In the summer of 2014 Amy went to work for John Deere in Moline, Illinois. In this role she worked on improving the process of installing lock collars during combine assembly.  Before she left, Amy led a team to design a brand new process and tool that decreased warranty claims, reduced safety and ergonomics issues, and allowed for process standardization internationally.  In September 2014 Amy presented with her team at the John Deere global safety and ergonomics conference and received the top recognition in the enterprise for her work.


Ahmed Khurshid; PhD Candidate in Computer Science

Aa Fulbright Fellow from Bangladesh, Ahmed is advised by Prof. Matthew Caesar. His research work focuses on improving security and availability of networked systems. He is developing tools to validate routing and security properties of a network using black-box analysis of network behavior. He has published several papers in the top and extremely-competitive conferences and workshops in the field of computer networking, including ACM SIGCOMM, USENIX NSDI and ACM CCS. His paper on real-time network property verification received the best paper award in HotSDN 2012. His research work has already begun to realize significant impact and industry interest. In 2013, Ahmed, Prof. Matthew Caesar and Prof. Brighten Godfrey founded a company named Veriflow Systems, Inc., to commercialize the network debugging tool developed by Ahmed.


Ritu Raman; PhD Candidate in Mechanical Science and Engineering

Ritu is focused on developing and commercializing 3D printing technologies for applications in biomedical engineering. Specifically, Ritu is interested in using 3D printing to manufacture biological building blocks, or BioBlocks. These BioBlocks can harness the innate abilities of biological materials to sense, process, and respond to a variety of dynamic environmental signals in real time. Such building blocks can be used to design bio-integrated machines, or BioBots, that can self-organize, self-heal, and self-replicate in response to a complex array of environmental cues. By crowd-sourcing the design rules and principles of building with biology in undergraduate classrooms, Ritu plans to use experiential learning and empirical discovery as a tool to train the next generation of makers, builders, and inventors.


The Illinois Innovation Prize, administered by the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering, is awarded on an annual basis to the most innovative student on campus. This year, TEC will reward and recognize the most innovative student on campus with $20,000. This student is a passionate innovator, working with world changing technology, entrepreneurially minded, and a role model for others.


The Provost’s Roundtable on Entrepreneurship annually holds a campus-wide Entrepreneurship Forum, highlighting the breadth of entrepreneurial activities across our campus for faculty, students, and academic professionals. This day-long event allows attendees to learn about topics such as: the Lean Startup Method, How to Fund your Company and the Impact of Social Entrepreneurship. This event is kicked off by keynote, Mark Tebbe speaking about Illinois: Tech Force of the Midwest. This is followed by a full day of panel sessions and networking opportunities. Steve LaValle is the lunch keynote and will speak about virtual reality challenges including head tracking, perceptual psychology, and health and safety. Additionally, all finalists of the Cozad New Venture Competition (CNVC) will showcase their ideas in the morning, and compete for over $160,000 in funding and in-kind prizes during the final competition at 2:45PM.