Opportunity for Science Writers!


The Collegiate Inventors Competition (CIC) shines the spotlight on deserving collegiate innovators whose original research, discoveries, and inventions have the potential to make the world healthier, the economy stronger, and the planet safer. The CIC also seeks to stimulate public interest in technology and innovation currently being developed for the common good.

The CIC was established in 1991 by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, now a nonprofit supporting organization of Invent Now.  Each year, Invent Now brings up to a dozen student inventors or inventor teams to Washington, D.C. where their entries are judged by an esteemed panel of judges comprised of National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees and other science and invention experts.  Winners in undergraduate and graduate categories receive cash awards and national recognition.  Past winning inventions of the CIC have included: a household arsenic water filter, a super strong transparent flexible polymer, a novel approach to deliver drug therapy to cancer tumors, a microclimate weather forecasting model, and a new way to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria.

This year’s CIC awards ceremony will take place at the National Press Club on the morning of Oct. 27.

For the first time, this year’s competition will feature the Science Journalist Awards.  This new program is designed to recognize the importance of science and technology journalism and to honor exceptional students who are planning careers in science and technology reporting.  Each of the competing journalists will receive an assignment to produce stories on one CIC finalist or team of finalists through both video and print media.

The students’ work will be used at the CIC National Press Club event to tell the story of each of the CIC finalists and their inventions. The video and accompanying print pieces will also be critiqued by a panel of media industry judges for content and storytelling; creative production and presentation; and overall journalistic quality.  The winning journalist will receive $1,000.  All student journalists who are chosen will receive an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the event.

Undergraduate or graduate students who are currently enrolled in a journalism program that features science, environmental, medical, or technology writing courses may be nominated by an adviser by Sept. 9.  When nominating students, advisers should include student résumés. These student journalists will have a demonstrated interest and aptitude in science and technology writing.  Final participants will be chosen from among all students nominated.

Each journalist selected to participate will have one CIC finalist student or team assigned to him/her in mid-September.  By the beginning of October, journalists will meet with their assigned finalists, spending a maximum of eight hours with them. If travel is necessary to meet with the finalists, associated costs (i.e. air, train, mileage, hotel) will be covered.

During the meeting, journalists will film the finalists to obtain footage for their video stories, as well as gather additional material for use in their written stories.  All journalists will be provided with a Flip Video™ camcorder.

By Oct. 15, each student journalist will submit:
•    A two-minute video story covering his or her CIC finalist and the invention
•    A 500-word written story about the CIC finalist and the invention

Effective video and written stories will convey not just information about the finalists’ innovations but will also explore the finalists themselves and their motives, passions and inspirations.  The journalists’ videos will be shown at the Oct. 27 event at the National Press Club to introduce the finalists to those in attendance. The journalists’ written stories will be used in media outreach related to the finalists.

Participating students will need to accommodate the following schedule:

Sept. 17:    Receive notification of status as participant
Sept. 20:     Receive notification of status as participant; participants informed of CIC finalist assignments; Flip Video™ Camcorders overnighted via UPS
Oct. 8:        All interviews complete, inclusive of any necessary travel to visit finalists
Oct. 15:    Final video and written stories submitted
Oct. 26:    Arrival in Washington, D.C. by 12n or earlier; attend CIC finalist
interviews with Talk of The Nation® host and CIC emcee Neal Conan
Oct. 27:    National Press Club in morning; departure after lunch

Each student must also be prepared to submit a high-resolution photo of him or herself upon being selected to participate.

Each of the journalism entries will be judged by a panel of notable science and technology journalists representing established media outlets. The judges will select winners to be announced on Oct. 26 at a special CIC finalist dinner taking place at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, VA sponsored by the USPTO, Abbott Fund, and IBM.

The judges will be looking for:

Content and Storytelling (1-34 points)
– A clear beginning, middle, and end, with an appropriate attention-getting opening
– A story that sticks to the main topic and is focused
– A story that is compelling, memorable and that builds interest from viewers, listeners and readers
– Sound bites that are appropriate and relevant
– Script and narration using appropriate broadcast style

Creative Production and Presentation (1-33 points)
– The reporter’s voice to be clear and strong, appearing credible with a strong presence
– Good overall pacing
– Footage appropriate to the topic
– Titles and graphics that are used appropriately

Journalistic Quality* (1-33 points)
*Adapted from the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics
– Seek Truth and Report It. Journalists should be honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
– Minimize Harm. Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
– Act Independently. Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.
– Be Accountable. Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers, and each other.

The CIC typically selects 6-8 graduate finalists or finalist teams, leading researchers in cutting edge technology in fields such as nanotechnology, biotech and genetics, software engineering, materials science, and medicine.  In addition, the CIC typically selects 4-6 undergraduate finalists or finalist teams whose innovations often reflect fields such as mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, and environmental engineering. Finalists represent a wide range of colleges and universities from across the U.S. and Canada. Information on the 2009 finalists can be found here: http://www.invent.org/collegiate/finalists_2009.html.

All travel arrangements, whether to interview CIC finalists or for the Washington, D.C. event, will be coordinated with and booked by Invent Now; this includes hotel reservations. A detailed schedule for Washington, D.C. will be provided to all participants as events approach.

Invent Now looks for new and creative ways to spread the inventive spirit, developing a range of creative products, programs and innovative partnerships that emphasize
the importance of invention in society, as with the CIC.  For more information, visit http://www.invent.org.

About journalismprof

Steve joined the journalism faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in August 2007 and has been working to incorporate multimedia across the curriculum. Since arriving at UMass, Steve has developed three courses modeled after his multimedia journalism course. The courses allow students to work in teams in a newsroom-like environment where they work on packages -- using video, audio and photos to tell stories. He is also working with students on developing amherstwire.com, a news Web site staffed completely by students. Steve has more than 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at washingtonpost.com. He also edits part-time for espn.com with the NFL and college football network.
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