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Changing the World with Science and Engineering: 2017 Engineering Impact Award Winners


The Engineering Impact Awards honor top applications changing the world with impactful and technologically-challenging solutions. Each application is an example of the amazing possibilities that exist when you combine our tools and domain expertise with our innovation.


The winning applications represent the judges’ top picks for remarkable solutions to the world’s most challenging engineering problems.

Congratulations to the 2017 Engineering Impact Award winners!


Advanced Research
Magnetically Levitated Blood Pump Impeller for Life Support
Minkyun Noh, MIT; Dr. Mark Gartner, Ension; Prof. David Trumper, MIT

Magnetically_Levitated_Blood_Pump_Impeller_for_Life_Support.png Conventional blood pumps are prone to stress and heat concentration on the shaft-bearing contact areas. Recently, engineers have applied magnetic levitation technology to blood pumps, but the high cost of the technology limits wide clinical adoption.


To address this challenge, MIT and Ension partnered to prototype a bearingless (magnetic-levitation) blood pump for extracorporeal life support (ECLS). This solution will reduce the unit price of traditional disposable models, as well as vibration and power consumption.

Application of the Year and Aerospace and Defense
Millennium Space Systems' ALTAIR™ Satellite 

Ted Carancho, Jeremy Blaire, Britt Christy, Jimmy Downs and Leonard Gibbs, Millennium Space Systems
Millennium Space Systems developed a low-cost CubeSat for low Earth orbit constellations. While spacecraft hardware and software development typically spans four to five years, Millennium Space Systems cut development time to one year. ALTAIR CubeSats are cost-effective, deliver true precision performance, and power radical new missions.

Electronics and Semiconductor
Probing of Large-Array, Fine-Pitch Microbumps for 3D ICs
Ferenc Fodor, Bart De Wachter, and Erik Jan Marinissen, imec vzw; Jörg Kiesewetter and Ken Smith, Cascade Microtech, a FormFactor company

Probing_of_Large-Array,_Fine-Pitch_Microbumps_for_3D_ICs.pngEngineers have long considered probing interconnect microbumps to be impossible because the arrays are too large (≥1,000) and the pitches too small (≤40 µm).


imec vzw and Cascade Microtech developed a solution: a fully automated system to characterize prototype probe cards for large-array, fine-pitch microbumps on advanced test wafers using the Semiconductor Test System (STS) from NI.


Their system resulted in an ultra-small footprint with considerable benefits for performance, power, and cost.


Embedded DIAL System for Measuring Fugitive Natural Gas Emissions
Steve Karcher, Phil Lyman, and Jarett Bartholomew, Ball Aerospace & Technologies
Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States. Continued natural gas pipeline incidents and leaks, the associated impacts, and oil and gas industry regulations drive the need to promptly detect, classify, and resolve fugitive methane emissions.


Ball Aerospace & Technologies addressed this need with the Methane Monitor, a remote sensing instrument for real-time detection and quantification of fugitive natural gas emissions. Methane Monitor is a precise method of monitoring leaks and can notify facility operators immediately of large emission sources.

Industrial Machinery and Control
Redefining the Future of Cancer Treatment With Proton Therapy
Jacob McCulley, ProNova Solutions


Redefining_the_Future_of_Cancer_Treatment_With_Proton_Therapy.jpgProNova Solutions developed the ProNova SC360, a highly accurate and precise proton beam control solution. This solution enables doctors to deliver a prescribed radiological dose to a specific location within a tumor thus sparing sensitive organs and normal tissue from unnecessary exposure.


The ProNova SC360 is an energy-efficient proton therapy system and provides a more widely accessible cancer treatment option at a lower cost.

RF and Mobile Communications
Using the NI PXI Platform for LiFi-Enabled Intelligent Transportation Systems
Murat Uysal, Burak Kebapci, and Omer Narmanlioglu, Ozyegin University, Centre of Excellence in Optical Wireless Communication Technologies

In an effort to improve road safety, traffic flow, and environmental concerns, there has been a growing interest in the field of intelligent transportation systems (ITSs). Vehicular networking, an essential component of ITSs, requires vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications so vehicles can communicate with each other and with roadside units installed along the road.

The Centre of Excellence in Optical Wireless Communication Technologies at Ozyegin University focused on this challenge with a specific research interest on visible light communication, also known as LiFi.


Their initial performance evaluation study of a LiFi-based V2V demonstrated that, depending on the location of the photodetector in the car, they could achieve a data rate of 50 Mb/s for a distance up to 70 m between two cars.

Transportation and Heavy Equipment
Lightning Hybrids’ New Method to Reduce Fuel Consumption
Adam Hartzell, Lightning Hybrids

Medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles account for 4% of the vehicles in use today but consume 40% of fuel used in urban environments. To address this issue, Lightning Hybrids developed a patented hydraulic hybrid system to decrease fuel consumption by 20% and decrease NOx (the key component of smog) by up to 50%.


This solution can be retrofitted to new or existing fleet vehicles and provides a new method for fleet operators to reduce fuel costs, brake wear, engine wear, and pollution.



Congratulations again to the winners!


Get to know all of the 2017 Engineering Impact Award finalists >>