The Jacobs Institute Innovation Catalysts is a grant program that helps Berkeley’s student innovators unlock potential in their projects. Last fall, nine projects were selected by our Student Advisory Board and leadership team to be part of the grant program. Five groups were selected for our Ignite grant, which awards student groups up to $2000 to continue in-progress projects; and four groups were selected for our Spark grant, which offers up to $500 for early-stage project ideas. This semester’s cohort includes undergraduates, masters, and Phd students.
Over the semester, grant winners have been working on their projects with the support of funding and mentorship from Jacobs Hall and the CITRIS Invention Lab. Recipients received a Maker Pass and have access to all of our Makerspace resources, in addition to on-going mentorship from our Student Advisory Board, Jacobs Technical Staff, Design Fellows, and others.
Congratulations to our Spring 23 Innovation Catalysts grant recipients! Ignite and Spark Grant winners will present their work and projects at the Spring Jacobs Design Showcase, May 3-5.
Learn more about each project below:
AI To Slow Dementia: Marcus Lannie (M.S. Mechanical Engineering & AI ‘23), Alex Bartoletti (M.S. Mechanical Engineering, ‘23)
AI-powered teddy bear that mitigates loneliness and slows the progression of dementia through curated conversation.
Gazeware: Leo Huang (B.S. Electrical Engineering Computer Science + Bioengineering ‘24), Pratyush Das (B.S. Electrical Engineering Computer Science + Business ‘24), and Caitlin Regan (B.S. Mechanical Engineering ’25)
We are building a non-invasive EOG (electrooculography)-based head-mounted device that would help paralyzed people control an input device, such as a laptop, with eye movements. This project is impactful because current methods for helping people with such impairments include an expensive surgery implanting a device that will read the brain signals from the patient. We, however, propose using a non-invasive device that reads the signals from the skin surface near the eye area of the patient. Our low-cost system is aimed to increase accessibility to this life-impacting technology for neurodiverse and physically impaired people.
Microdrones + Neural Radiance Field Based Hyperrealistic 3D Mesh Synthesis From Video Students: Aneri Sheth (B.S. Materials Science + Engineering ‘26), Anshul Kashyap (B.S. Electrical Engineering Computer Science ‘25)
Our vision for this project consists of microdrones smaller than any commercially available drone with a mass of less than 8 grams that consume less power and have a resulting longer flight time. We also envision creating drones with the ability to communicate in a swarm, and attach cameras/sensors for numerous use cases. This fleet technology of drones compatible with other drones is very novel and has various applications including military surveillance and for converting multiple viewpoint video segments of objects in real life into hyper realistic 3D meshes with textures using neural radiance fields.
PinBot: Elaine Llacuna (B.S. Mechanical Engineering ‘23), Hannah Dam (B.S. Mechanical Engineering ‘23), Sebastian Pereyra (B.S. Mechanical Engineering ‘26)
The PinBot transforms 2D digital images into a 3D topological piece by pushing and constraining pins on a pinboard. This will help expand the ways that we experience art, especially to those with visual disabilities.
rLung: Jahnavi Jambholkar (MDes ’23); Joergen Jore (B.S. Computer Science, ‘25)
rLung is a low-cost, portable lung diagnostic tool that can diagnose and differentiate between 5 of the most common respiratory conditions. Our prototype costs a tenth of the price of similar spirometers and could help diagnose millions who lack access to health care.
Deio: Conrad Buck (B.S. Nuclear Engineering, ‘23)
My project focuses on creating accessible, colorful and wireless lighting through the use of off the shelf components. The lights and remote will use Arduino Nanos and NRF24L01 radio modules to interface with each other. My system allows for direct communication between devices wirelessly.
Domestic Carbon Scrub: Dimple Amitha Caruadapuri (B.S. Bioengineering ‘26)
Domestic Carbon Scrub aims to repurpose a chemical process to capture carbon dioxide from the ambient air to function in a domestic setting. Experiments with CO2 filters have been done. Optimizing the extraction of the CO2 for this proof of concept is the goal of this upcoming semester.
Neurowrist: Inga Zhuravleva (B.S. Electrical Engineering + Computer Science ‘24), Riley Hernandez (B.S. Mechanical Engineering + Business ‘24)
This is an EMG wrist sensor that captures signals from wrist movement to control external applications through gesture classification and monitor neural and muscular signals. We aim to utilize existing infrastructure of smartwatches to mount our sensors onto (or as standalone devices), allowing for greater accessibility of the product.
Quake: Hridhay Suresh (B.A. Computer Science + Data Science ‘23)
Quake is a low-cost stick-and-peel sensor that utilizes an IMU (Accelerometer & Gyroscope) to detect seizure activity through an on-device neural network. When seizure activity is detected by the IMU, a signal is transmitted over Bluetooth Low Energy to a server that sends a text message, push notification, and email to predetermined contacts, notifying of the seizure event. This can potentially provide valuable information to caregivers, allowing them to provide adequate care when necessary.