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USC Diploma in Innovation teams selected

The teams will pursue projects that help society at large.

Thirteen teams led by USC PhD students have been selected to participate in the USC Diploma in Innovation program for the coming year.

The highly selective program, which began in 2010, is intended to help doctorate students with demonstrated skills in innovative problem solving to generate tangible results.

“This group of students represents the cream of the crop at USC, and we are very excited to give them the resources and guidance they need to transform these highly innovative ideas into game-changers that will have broad positive impact on our society,” said USC Professor Peter Beerel, faculty director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Engineering.

This year, the program provided 13 teams made up of 27 PhD students with $5,000 each to pursue projects that will benefit USC and society as a whole. Over the next year, the teams will participate in seminars focused on innovation, collaboration, development of a business plan, intellectual property law and other related topics.

The collaborative projects, which were drawn from 10 different schools across campus, include:

• an attempt to improve lung transplantation rates using amniotic fluid stem cells

• an interactive virtual game that encourages the motor-skill development of children with autism spectrum disorder

• a computer game that teaches people to cope with stressful situations

• a translation of the complete works of Afghan poet Nadia Anjuman into English from Farsi and set them to original music

• a yearlong afterschool program teaching young women civic engagement and digital media skills

• a new media device that combines the intimate qualities of a book with the interactivity of digital media

• mobile mesh networks that can be deployed in times of local or national crisis

• digital policy maps of neighborhoods that allow residents to document assets and problems in their communities for policymakers

• a survey that assesses how well master’s programs tap, develop and reward student innovation

• an attempt to use real-time input from locust brains to aid robot collision avoidance

• a Facebook application that analyzes participants’ social exchanges to investigate their impact on relationships and mental health

• a new computerized lost-and-found network for the University Park Campus that unites the more than 100 lost-and-found services that currently exist in various buildings and departments;

• a noninvasive method for measuring vocal chord movement with ultrasound.

After a year of guidance, the projects will be evaluated by USC faculty to determine whether the teams have been successful in reaching their goals and whether the students should be awarded the Diploma in Innovation.

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