Keenan and Paroda's ECHOdrive wins $10K Lemelson-MIT 'Use it!' student prize

Stefanie Tomlinson
May 19, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Lemelson-MIT Program announced today (May 19) that Justin Keenan and Kevin Paroda, both undergraduate students in the College of Engineering at Penn State, are winners in the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition.

The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Competition honors promising collegiate inventors around the country and the "Use it!" award recognizes students working on technology-based inventions that can improve consumer devices and tools.

Keenan and Paroda will receive $10,000 and a trip in June to MIT for EurekaFest, a multi-day celebration designed to empower a legacy of inventors through activities that inspire youth, honor role models and encourage creativity and problem solving.

The engineers' winning entry was ECHOdrive, an aftermarket vacuum chamber build plate to automate the 3D printing process. ECHOdrive is sold as an add-on to existing 3D printers and allows continuous automated printing, mitigates warping of prints of all shapes and sizes, and boasts remote printing capabilities, eliminating the need for human/machine interaction. The technology offers improved print quality over traditional aftermarket build plates and is designed to attract those who cannot afford to purchase a new machine, but want to enhance their 3D printing capabilities.

The idea for ECHOdrive initiated in the team's first-year Engineering Design 100 course.

"We came up with the idea because we initially wanted to make a 3D printing vending machine. We wanted it to be very low maintenance and easy for multiple users to connect to. We started to build prototypes in our EDSGN 100 class and came up with a bunch of ideas that worked moderately well. From there we joined forces with Sven Bilén, professor of engineering design and electrical engineering, who encouraged us to develop the add-on for consumer 3D printers," explained Keenan.

"Our hope is that by removing much of the human interaction from the 3D printing process, ECHOdrive will make the transformative platform technology of 3D printing even more accessible for entrepreneurs, small business owners and inventors," said Paroda.

Keenan, from Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, is a junior with a dual major in electrical engineering and physics, and Paroda, from State College, Pennsylvania, is a junior majoring in biomedical engineering with an entrepreneurship minor.

Open to undergraduate and graduate students from any college or university in the United States, the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition builds on the legacy of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, which has served as a springboard for collegiate inventors for 20 years.

Prizes are awarded in three additional categories for technology-based inventions that can improve healthcare ("Cure it!"), transportation ("Drive it!") and food and agriculture ("Eat it!").

"This year's Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition winners are inventors who recognize pressing issues and are pioneering concepts that will translate into impactful solutions," said Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. "Their work is as remarkable as their passion to mentor and inspire creative thinking among youth."

Celebrating invention, inspiring youth

The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.

Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history's most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering at MIT, an institution with a strong ongoing commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for K-12 STEM education.

Based in Portland, The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives. Inspired by the belief that invention can solve many of the biggest economic and social challenges of our time, the Foundation helps the next generation of inventors and invention-based businesses to flourish. The Lemelson Foundation was established in the early 1990s by prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy. To date the Foundation has made grants totaling more than $185 million in support of its mission. For more information, visit

Last Updated May 20, 2015