Categories & Prizes

Prize Categories

Applicants submit their inventions in categories that represent significant sectors of the economy that could be reimagined and improved through invention.


The "Cure it!" Lemelson-MIT Student Prize
“Cure it!” rewards students working on technology-based inventions that involve healthcare.
Eat it prize category
The "Eat it!" Lemelson-MIT Student Prize
"Eat it!" rewards students working on technology-based inventions that involve food/water or agriculture.
The "Move it!" Lemelson-MIT Student Prize
"Move it!" rewards students working on technology-based inventions that involve transportation or mobility.
The "Use it!" Lemelson-MIT Student Prize
"Use it!" rewards students working on technology-based inventions that involve consumer devices or products.
Winners receive:
$15K to the winning graduate student in each prize category.
$10K to the winning undergraduate team in each category.
National media campaign and exposure to investment and business communities.
A paid trip to an awards celebration. 


All 2021 Student Prize applicants must be full-time, matriculated, degree-seeking students in the fall semester of 2020 at any U.S. college or university. Postdocs, audit students, and alumni are not eligible.

Patents are encouraged but not required. Additionally, applicants should be able to outline examples of their involvement in youth mentoring and outreach activities, and are asked to consider environmental sustainability as a factor in their inventive work. For additional information on sustainability-focused inventing, we encourage applicants to review these helpful toolkits.

2021 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners are required to attend EurekaFest in mid-to-late June 2021 (dates TBD). For undergraduate team winners, at least one team member must attend. Attendance at EurekaFest is at the Lemelson-MIT Program’s expense. EurekaFest is a unique, inspiring opportunity for winners to interact with one another and the Lemelson-MIT high school InvenTeams.

If you are unsure about which category to apply to or have questions about your eligibility, please contact Janell Ciemiecki, Awards Program Administrator, at


  • An undergraduate team is composed of 2-5 members and is founded and led by an undergraduate student. Teams must have a tested prototype of one invention that fits into one of the four prize categories. Graduate students can be part of the undergraduate team, provided there is a majority of undergraduate team members. Individual undergraduate students cannot apply without a team. The student submitting the application will be considered the team lead and the main point of contact for anything application-related.


  • An individual graduate student must have at least two inventions with tested prototypes. Graduate students should choose a primary invention from their portfolio and apply to the prize category that best fits their primary invention. Their second and any additional (if applicable) inventions do not need to be in the same category as the primary invention. There is no graduate student team prize.

Selection Process & Key Dates

The 2021 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize features a two-part online application process, the Initial Application and the Category Application, using the SurveyMonkey Apply applicant portal. All applicants need to create a SurveyMonkey Apply account by clicking the “Apply Now” button below. Repeat applicants do not need to create a new SurveyMonkey Apply account and can login to the account that they previously created on the platform.

Applicants will be judged on the overall inventiveness of their work, the potential for commercialization/adoption of the invention(s), the systems and design thinking approach applied to the development of the invention(s), youth mentoring and leadership experience, and faculty recommendations. Category-specific screening committees review applications to select finalists and a prestigious national jury selects winners. Details appear below. 

Note: dates are subject to change.

Initial Application
The Initial Application is a rolling application with a final deadline of September 25, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET. If applicants meet all eligibility and Initial Application criteria, they will be invited to submit the Category Application within two weeks of submitting the Initial Application. Applicants are encouraged to submit materials BEFORE the September deadline.
Category Application
All eligible applicants who meet the Initial Application criteria will be invited via email to complete the Category Application. All Category Application materials, including the faculty recommendation letter, must be received no later than October 16, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Finalist Round
A small number of graduate and undergraduate team applicants will be notified by December 17, 2020 if they are advanced as finalists in each category. If selected as a finalist, applicants are required to submit additional materials due by January 13, 2021. Winners will be notified in late February 2021 and a public announcement will occur in late April 2021.

How to Apply

The 2021 Student Prize application is now closed and submitted applications are currently under review. The 2022 Student Prize application will open in Spring of 2021 and will be available here. Full details about the Student Prize application process, including the Initial and Category Application requirements, eligibility, key dates, FAQ’s, and the Finalist Application guidelines, can be found in the 2021 Information Packet. You can also refer an inventive student for the 2022 Student Prize.


"One of the biggest barriers in STEM is the gender gap and women feel shy – society has put them down so much – and don’t speak out. I just want to give girls encouragement and tell them not to be afraid."

Kayla Nguyen
2017 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner

Current Winners

Daniela Blanco
Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

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Daniela Blanco, a PhD candidate at New York University (NYU) Tandon School of Engineering, is committed to creating positi

Become a Champion for Invention

We have a range of sponsorship opportunities for our national collegiate student prize program. Learn more about this opportunity by downloading the brochure.