Students, incubator graduates honored for ‘GREAT’ innovations

RIT well represented at Digital Rochester GREAT Awards

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Students Justin Hillery and Sean Petterson were among the winners with RIT connections at Digital Rochester’s second annual GREAT Awards on Sept. 11. Standing for Greater Rochester Excellence and Achievements in Technology, the awards honor “entrepreneurial spirit in technological achievement” and innovation in the Greater Rochester region.

Petterson, an industrial design major, and Hillery, a multidisciplinary studies student, won in the Student Achievement category for their Strong Arm Ergonomic Lifting Safety System.

The two other finalists in that category, both from RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, were Jeremy Jensen, the project leader for TigerBot, a “humanoid” robot that mimics human behavior and movement, and Praneeth Pulusani, the project leader for the Wandering Ambassador robot, which autonomously carries a plant around in search of the most ideal growing conditions.

OptiCool Technologies won the Going Green Award for its innovative energy-efficient data center cooling solution. The system uses an oil-free, pumped refrigerant and a modular cooling-unit design that increases cooling capacity, decreases overall energy usage up to 95 percent and takes up significantly less floor space than traditional methods of cooling.

OptiCool Technologies recently graduated from RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator and moved to a new facility in Webster.

Vnomics earned the Rising Star Award for developing a mobile tool to monitor the performance of commercial trucks and light-armored vehicles. Vnomics, which also started in Venture Creations, is now based in Bushnell’s Basin.

The winners were announced Sept. 11 during a dinner at the Rochester Plaza Hotel and Conference Center. For more information, go to