SU inventors: apply for the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

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Applications are now open for the prestigious 2020 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, with a deadline to apply by September 27, 2019.  The competition recognizes students at any U.S. college or university who have tested prototypes of technology-based inventions in healthcarefood/water and agriculture, transportation and mobility, and consumer devices. Details are in the Application Info Packet regarding the application process and eligibility requirements.

The nationwide invention competition honors undergraduate teams and individual graduate students who have developed technology-based inventions with tested prototypes. Graduate students win $15,000 in recognition of their portfolio of inventions, and undergraduate teams win $10,000 for their invention. In addition, winners will be included in a national media campaign, and receive exposure to investment and business communities, and a trip to MIT for an award celebration (EurekaFest) in June 2020.

Eligibility Requirements

All applicants must be full-time, matriculated, degree-seeking students in the spring semester of 2020 at any U.S. college or university to be eligible. Postdocs, audit students, and alumni are not eligible.

Students apply to the competition as either:

  • An undergraduate team composed of 2-5 students on an undergraduate student-founded and student-led team. Must have a tested prototype of one invention that fits into one of the four prize categories. Graduate students can be part of the undergraduate team provided the majority of team members are undergraduates. Individual undergraduate students cannot apply without a team.
  • An individual graduate student with at least two inventions with tested prototypes. Only the primary invention must fit into one of the four prize categories. There is no graduate student team prize.

Students must have a tested prototype of a technology-based invention that fits into one of the four prize categories:

  • “Cure it!”– inventions that involve healthcare.
  • “Eat it!”– inventions that involve food/water or agriculture.
  • “Move it!”– inventions that involve transportation or mobility.
  • “Use it!”– inventions that involve consumer devices – defined as tangible consumer products where the end users are retail customers who would purchase the product for use in their daily life.

If you are unsure about which category to apply to, contact Janell Ciemiecki, Awards Program Administrator, at For undergraduate teams, the person submitting the application will be considered the team lead and the main point of contact for anything application-related.

Application Submission Guidelines

Once a SurveyMonkey Apply account is created, applicants must complete the Initial Application online by Friday, September 27, 2019 at 11:59pm ET. Initial Application requirements include:

  • Indicate the Prize Type (Undergraduate Team or Individual Graduate Student) and Category (“Cure it!,” “Eat it!,” “Move it!” or “Use it!”)
  • Individual or Team Contact Information
  • Invention Description(s) in non-technical terms (must have a tested prototype)
  • Resume(s) or CV (PDF upload)
  • Slide Deck Presentation (5-slide PowerPoint or PDF presentation upload about the invention(s), which must include visual evidence of a tested prototype. Photos are preferred, but if you embed a video, please also provide a link to it on the slides)

All eligible applicants who meet the Initial Application criteria will be invited via email to complete the Category Application for “Cure it!,” “Eat it!,” “Move it!” or “Use it!,” which is due by Friday, October 18, 2019 at 11:59pm ET. Applications will be evaluated on both your Initial Application materials and the Category Application materials. You may make any updates to your Initial Application materials prior to submitting the Category Application (note: any updates should only be made on the Initial Application sections that are copied over and found within your Category Application). Category Application requirements include:

  • Faculty Letter of Recommendation (HIGHLY recommend that you request this ASAP; see instructions on the application)
  • Cover Letter (highlighting the inventor’s/inventors’ background and inspiration)
  • Description of Inventiveness (single invention for undergraduate teams and portfolio of two or more inventions for graduate students)
  • Description of Potential Commercialization or Adoption
  • Description of Systems and Design Thinking
  • Description of Youth Mentoring and Leadership Experience
  • Optional: Up to two supplemental documents/media uploads are permitted

A small number of graduate and undergraduate team applicants will be notified by December 19, 2019 if they are advanced as finalists in each category. If selected as a finalist, applicants are required to submit the following materials by Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 11:59pm ET:

  • Two additional letters of recommendation
  • Produce a two-minute video about your invention (primary invention for graduate students)
  • Headshot or team photo
  • Optional: Up to three supplemental documents/media uploads are permitted in addition to the two-minute video and headshot/team photo

Detailed Finalist Application instructions will be sent to all finalists in December if advanced. Finalists may make any edits to their Initial Application and Category Application materials prior to submitting the Finalist Application.