SOURCE: Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics

October 03, 2011 08:30 ET

POPULAR MECHANICS Recognizes World-Changing Innovations With the 2011 Breakthrough Awards

Director James Cameron to Receive Breakthrough Leadership Award

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Oct 3, 2011) - Today, POPULAR MECHANICS announced the winners of its seventh annual Breakthrough Awards, recognizing the innovators and products that dramatically advanced the fields of technology, medicine, space exploration, automotive design, environmental engineering, and more. The honorees will be celebrated at an invitation-only conference and gala awards ceremony at Hearst Tower in New York City on October 10. Full descriptions of the winners will be published in the November issue of POPULAR MECHANICS, available at newsstands on October 11.

Among this year's honorees is director James Cameron, who will be given the Breakthrough Leadership Award for technological innovations that have forever changed filmmaking, as well as for his passionate pursuit of opening new worlds to physical exploration. The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity -- and the team that engineered them -- will receive a Mechanical Lifetime Achievement Award for overcoming great challenges in their dogged pursuit of new discoveries on the Red Planet. And the Next Generation Award will go to a team of high school students from West Philadelphia that builds super-high-mileage cars in an after-school program. Other honorees include the scientists and engineers behind a high-altitude wind turbine, a groundbreaking new spacecraft, a promising therapy for paralysis patients, and a glass powder capable of purifying toxic water.

"From off-the-shelf blood vessels to a cellphone tower the size of a Rubik's Cube, our Breakthrough Award winners not only capture the imagination, but hold the potential to improve and save lives," says James B. Meigs, editor-in-chief of POPULAR MECHANICS. "We are pleased to honor this year's diverse list of visionaries, James Cameron among them, as they are shaping the future of innovation."

POPULAR MECHANICS Breakthrough Awards are given in two categories: innovators, whose inventions will make the world smarter, safer and more efficient in the years to come, and products, which are setting benchmarks in design and engineering today. The 2011 winners are:


James Cameron, Leadership Award: Revolutionized filmmaking by pioneering CGI and building the world's most advanced 3D camera; helped build submersibles that expand exploration of the deep sea.

West Philly Hybrid X Team, Next Generation Award: Built a hybrid electric car that gets 100 mpg on the highway -- proving hands-on education can outperform teams of professional engineers.

Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, Mechanical Lifetime Achievement Award: Steven Squyres (Cornell University); John Callas, Richard Cook, Peter Theisinger (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory) - Turned a 90-day mission into one of space exploration's longest-lasting adventures, making stunning discoveries about the Red Planet along the way.

Dragon Spacecraft: Elon Musk and team (SpaceX) - Became the first private company to launch a craft into orbit and successfully recover it, taking a major step toward filling the void left by NASA's shuttle.

Electrical Stimulation for Paralysis: Joel Burdick (CalTech); V. Reggie Edgerton, Yury Gerasimenko (UCLA); Susan Harkema (University of Louisville/Frazier Rehab Institute); Rob Summers - Conducted a bold experiment that gave a paralyzed man unprecedented voluntary movement of his legs.

Off-the-Shelf Blood Vessels: Juliana Blum, Shannon Dahl, Laura Niklason (Humacyte) - Grew blood vessels that can be stored for future use in surgery and are compatible with anyone.

High-Altitude Wind Turbine: Corwin Hardham, Kenny Jensen, Damon Vander Lind (Makani Power) - Created a turbine that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane, enabling it to reach winds that blow stronger and more consistently.

Nano Hummingbird: Matt Keennon, Karl Klingebiel (AeroVironment); Todd Hylton (DARPA) - Engineered a tiny, remote-controlled vehicle that flies (and looks) like an actual hummingbird, pioneering a new form of robotic flight.

lightRadio Cube: Tod Sizer and team (Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs) - Shrank the functions of a cell tower to fit a device the size of a Rubik's Cube, eliminating the need for new towers in urban areas.

Opposed-Piston, Opposed-Cylinder Engine: Peter Hofbauer (EcoMotors) - Reinvented the internal combustion engine by making it 15 to 50 percent more energy-efficient, while also reducing emissions.

Osorb for Water Treatment: Paul Edmiston (College of Wooster, ABSMaterials) - Developed a reusable glass powder capable of cleaning toxic water, such as wastewater from natural gas fracking sites.


Motorola ATRIX 4G: A top-notch smartphone that, when connected to the Motorola Lapdock, also serves as the brain of an 11.5-inch laptop.

Microsoft Kinect for Windows SDK: Software development kit providing programmers, researchers and artists with the tools for hacking Microsoft's Kinect motion-control technology.

Square Reader, Square & Card Case Apps: Technology that allows any iPad, iPhone or Android handset to become a full-fledged point-of-sale device.

Parrot ASTEROID: A drop-in receiver that can turn any older car or truck into a connected vehicle with voice recognition, hands-free calling and more.

Ford Rear Inflatable Seat Belts: Rear seatbelts with built-in airbags that can support more than five times the body area of a normal belt, reducing pressure on the chest during an accident.

Rockstar Games' L.A. Noire: A video game with Hollywood-grade MotionScan technology giving action an unprecedented level of realism.

BoralPure Smog-Eating Tile: Boral Roofing tiles with a titanium-dioxide coating that can react with and neutralize nitrogen oxide particles in smog.

Solaria Photovoltaic Panels: Solar panels manufactured with 50 to 70 percent less silicon than traditional panels, dramatically reducing the cost to consumers.

Philips AmbientLED Bulb: A light bulb that uses just 12.5 watts of power and is rated to burn for 25,000 hours, proving to be the first credible replacement for the 60-watt incandescent.

Celestron SkyProdigy Automatic Telescopes: Telescopes equipped with built-in tracking cameras and a database of more than 4000 heavenly objects so that sighting stars takes less than 3 minutes.

Criteria and Evaluation
In selecting the candidates and winners of the 2011 Breakthrough Awards, the editors of POPULAR MECHANICS canvassed a wide range of experts to come up with a list of worthy innovators, then consulted dozens of past Breakthrough Award winners in fields ranging from aerospace and robotics to medicine and energy. PM editors test hundreds of products in a wide range of categories year-round in order to arrive at the true game-changers for the Breakthrough product awards.

More information on this year's honorees, as well as high-resolution images from the event, will be available upon request and at

The exclusive sponsors of this year's event are HP, Cub Cadet, Knob Creek, and Silhouette.

POPULAR MECHANICS empowers readers to navigate the increasingly complex, technological world around us. The magazine, published monthly by Hearst Magazines, inspires, instructs and influences 9 million curious readers. Their mindset -- the hunger to know, the desire to investigate and learn -- drives them to explore, experiment and experience a wide range of interests. Issues engage readers with breakthroughs in the latest innovations in science and technology; educates with informative how-to stories on vehicles, the home and digital technology; and motivates action with product reviews and comparison tests of the newest equipment and products. POPULAR MECHANICS is also the No. 1-ranked men's monthly magazine when it comes to reaching an environmentally conscious audience. The brand is a 21st-century must-read, with a robust website ( and an award-winning tablet edition.

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