Introduced in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition has recognized, rewarded, and encouraged hundreds of students to share their inventive ideas with the world. The competition promotes exploration in invention, science, engineering, technology, and other creative endeavors, and provides a window on the technologies from which society will benefit in the future. Each year, up to twelve finalists (or finalist teams) in undergraduate and graduate divisions receive an all-expenses paid trip to present their work to a panel of expert judges in Washington, D.C. (The competition's sponsors are the Abbott Fund, the Kauffman Foundation, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.)
Prizes in the undergaduate division range from $5,000 to $12,500. Prizes in the graduate division range from $10,000 to $15,000. Winners' advisors in each category also receive a cash prize.
Students entering the competition must be enrolled, or have been enrolled, full-time (in any U.S. or Canadian college or university) for at least part of the twelve-month period prior to the date the entry is submitted. In the case of a team (with a maximum of four students), at least one member of the team must meet the full-time eligibility criteria. Other team members must have been enrolled, at a minimum, on a part-time basis sometime during the tw0-year period prior to the date the entry is submitted.
Each entry must be the original idea and work product of the student/advisor team and must not have been made available to the public as a commercial product or process or patented or published more than one year prior to the date of submission to the competition. The invention, a reduced-to-practice idea, or working model, must be the work of a student or team of students with his or her university advisor.