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Kudos for PSU’s InventOR lands its team on stage and in the running for a People’s Choice Award

Juan Barazza (second from the right) was honored with the Impact Award last week and celebrates here with team members, family, and The Lemmelson Foundation.

The InventOR Collegiate Challenge is sparkling in its third year, with an Impact Award for the competition’s manager and a nomination for the People’s Choice Award from the Technology Association of Oregon.

Juan Barraza, who manages Portland State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and the statewide InventOR competition was recognized last week at the annual Elevating Impact Summit presented by the PSU School of Business. Juan received the Lemelson Foundation Impact Award for his years of service building a program that brings invention education to students across the state.

Anyone who knows Juan knows about his big smile, his endless enthusiasm, his strong GIF game, and his commitment to helping students succeed.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Juan changed my life,” said Blake Turner a student inventor who met Juan through the 2018 InventOR competition and is continuing to pursue his hydrogen car converter kit as a student at Portland State. “He changed the way I think about myself, not just an engineering student but an inventor.”

Testimonials like this one are just one of the reasons that the Lemelson Foundation chose to recognize Juan for his outstanding, above-and-beyond support for student inventors. The Impact Award goes to a group or individual that uses entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial approaches to generate positive social and environmental impact.

Inventors and companies have been honored with the award in past years, but in selecting Juan Barraza in 2019, the Lemelson Foundation recognizes someone who impacts the lives, inventions, and business potential of young people across Oregon.

The InventOR Collegiate Challenge has grown from just a handful of schools participating in 2017 to a truly statewide event with 17 institutions participating this year. The competition finals will feature 21 student teams competing for $25,000 in prizes at PSU’s Viking Pavilion on June 28. Students develop prototypes of inventions that solve a problem they see in their community.

InventOR has also been nominated for a People’s Choice award by the Technology Association of Oregon. The award honors an individual, company, product, or program that best exemplifies the spirit of the local tech community — with an emphasis on bold entrepreneurship, innovation, and community building.

Votes for People’s Choice Awards will be accepted this Friday, March 22, via text. To vote for InventOR, text the number 1 to (503) 374-1161 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. One vote per phone allowed.

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