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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Page-turning device invented by URI students exhibited at national inventors conference

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 20, 2005 -- A page-turning device invented by a team of University of Rhode Island students was exhibited at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) conference in San Diego last month. The device is one of just 14 student inventions selected for the ninth annual “March Madness for the Mind” event.

URI senior Terry Malaghan of Westerly and recent URI graduate Adam Tillinghast of Foster demonstrated the device at the conference.

The collapsible page-turner is made of Lexan – a plastic glass – and can hold hardcover books up to a size slightly larger than an average textbook. Using this device, the pages of a book are lifted one by one using an adhesive head in a rotational motion. The device is user-friendly, reversible, portable and easy to load. The inventors are in commercialization discussions with assistive technology company, Enabling Devices, Inc., of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The project was developed as part of a course for engineering and business students.

“We run the course like a business,” said Ying Sun, a URI professor of biomedical engineering. “First, students come up with ideas, then create a prototype, and then they make a business plan to launch it.”

The course, taught by Sun, Business Professor Robert Comerford and Engineering Professor Musa Jouaneh, was made possible by a grant from NCIIA, a non-profit organization committed to supporting invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship in higher education.

“To get ideas, we started talking with rehabilitation scientists and therapists,” said Tillinghast. “The idea for the page-turner came from Kent Hospital. This was the idea we decided had the most promise. We met with a quadriplegic who told us his challenges and what would be helpful. The intent was to develop something useful in an area where a lot of users can’t get affordable devices.”

“The course really prepares you for the real world,” said Malaghan. “It is more in-depth. You develop more team skills, design skills and marketable skills as a designer.”

In addition to being shown at the NCIIA conference, the page-turner was displayed at the Northeast Bioengineering conference last April at Western New England College and at the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America conference last June in Florida.

“These exceptional teams of young innovators represent the future of technology,” said Phil Weilerstein, NCIIA executive director. “They’re taking exciting ideas from lab to market as part of their education, and they are benefiting from a new orientation in higher education that gives students the opportunity to be successful innovators in today’s dynamic, collaborative workplace.”

Other members of the invention team are John Coughlin, Ellaine Abueg, Nevan Hanumara and Oliver Koenig, all of whom graduated in 2004 and are currently attending graduate school.