On October 2, 2004, an exceptional group of young people gathered at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. They were there to stack up their inventions against proven winners, such as the cotton gin, the airplane and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for replicating DNA. The 19 undergraduate and graduate students were the finalists in the 14th annual Collegiate Inventors Competition.
Working solo or in teams of two or three, the 19 entrants represented five undergraduate and nine graduate projects. Those final 14 were the survivors of a process that began with the solicitation of applications from 800 colleges and universities worldwide, resulting in 120 submissions.