Five Incredible Inventions by College Students

Many people stereotype the college years as four years’ worth of partying. But that’s not necessarily true! Many students actually use their time very productively—to create things, work toward their dreams, and accomplish things they’ve always wanted to do.

For example, some students use their time to innovate. And some of those innovators come up with truly spectacular inventions and pave the way toward their futures as businesspeople and our future as a society. Here are some amazingly smart, useful inventions that college students have created — from simple life-hacks to futuristic pieces of technology.

5. A Fire Extinguisher That Uses Sound Instead of Chemicals

Yes, you read that right. Created by Seth Robertson and Viet Tran, engineering students at George Mason University, this fire extinguisher uses low-frequency sound waves to kill flames. My only question is, what made them think to use sound, of all things?!

4. Foldable, Portable Ballet Flats

Heels look great for an evening out, but they’re far from comfy. That’s why NYU students Susie Levitt and Katie Shea devised CitySlips®. Basically, they’re foldable flats that come in a small travel pouch. Whenever you’re ready to take off your heels, you take the flats out of the travel pouch and slip them on. Then, with the extra fabric inside the travel pouch, you convert the pouch into a tote and put your heels in it.

3. A Marker That Tells You When to Apply Sunscreen

How many of you have gone to the beach or pool, slathered on sunscreen, forgotten to reapply it, and turned into a lobster by the end of the day? (Me: *shyly raises hand*) To solve the issue, four University of Waterloo students — Rachel Pautler, Derek Jouppi, Andrew Martinko, and Chad Sweeting — invented Suncayr, a marker that tells you when it’s time to reapply your sunscreen. The ink turns color in the presence of UV light, so when you find a purple mark on your skin, you know your sunblock has worn off and it’s time to reapply it.

2. A Device That Turns a Flat Surface into a Computer

Thanks to Pranav Mistry, a grad student at MIT, you may be able to wear a computer in the not-so-distant future. He, Pattie Maes, and Liyan Chang developed a device called SixthSense. You keep a smartphone in your pocket and wear a little camera/projector around your neck. The smartphone and projector/camera work as a team to sense your finger movements, process information, and project information onto a surface — be it a wall, a table, or the palm of your hand. With this invention, you can check your email against a building, take pictures with your fingers, and more.

1. A Universal Tape Dispenser

So simple, yet so brilliant. Cooper Union students Deanna Kovalcin and Jessica Marshall created a tape dispenser called Snip It that fits any tape roll and cuts any type of tape—from scotch tape to masking tape to duct tape. Best yet, it does so safely.

Which invention was your favorite?

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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.