Connecticut Teen Takes Top National Honors with Bluetooth-Enabled CPAP Invention

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More than 800 participants drive success for first K-12 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo in Washington D.C.

A teenager from Southington, Connecticut, is the champion of the first-ever National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE), held this past weekend at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Virginia. Lucca Riccio, an 8th grader, won the prestigious award for his “Message Mask”– a Bluetooth-enabled noise-canceling CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) medical device that helps patients communicate clearly with loved ones while receiving oxygen through the mask. The Message Mask won the Most Marketable Product, beating out more than 260 entries from competitors representing 15 states across the United States.

A total of 43 award winners took home honors from the inaugural NICEE 2016 event, including 13 each from Connecticut and Ohio, and seven from Idaho. Eight different states had students receive awards at NICEE 2016.

More than 120 judges from intellectual property-focused law firms, U.S. Government departments, corporations, teachers, and others from the Washington, D.C. area and from as far away as California judged the competition.

“The level of invention was outstanding and worthy of a national competition,” says NICEE 2016 organizer Danny Briere, CEO of The STEMIE Coalition, the event host. “When you have students as young as second graders being considered for the Best-in-Show award, and third graders winning for Best Prototype, you know it is an incredibly innovative field of inventors.”

Riccio’s Message Mask solves a key problem for patients using oxygen masks: having difficulty being understood due to the noise of the oxygen flow and mouth-covering plastic cover. Riccio thought of the idea when in the Emergency Room with his grandmother, as his uncle rushed cross-country to her bedside. “He wanted to talk to her, he was scared he would not make it there in time. But the phone could not pick up her voice over the noise of the machinery in the room, and I could not understand her through the muffled mask to tell him what she was saying,” says Riccio. “My Bluetooth-enabled noise canceling microphone would have picked up her voice and relayed it to the smartphone as well as to a local speaker, so everyone could hear.”

Riccio has filed for patent protection with the USPTO for his invention, and is working to commercialize his product into the market this year.

“All of the products that we evaluated for the Most Marketable Product award were so incredible, and the inventors so poised and prepared,” says Christine Heckart, chief marketing officer for Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., the firm that sponsored this Best-in-Show honor. “What made the Message Mask stand out was its ability to impact a large a group of people worldwide. This innovation could be used in homes and hospitals worldwide, helping patients, staff and families communicate with loved ones at a critical time in their lives.”

Other top honors went to:

  • Most Patentable Product: CO2E, an invention to convert pollutant CO2 emissions into energy, by Arya Bairat, Milford, Connecticut
  • Best Blends Design and Engineering: Convert - A – Stairs, stairs which convert easily to a flat ramp, by Madison Estep and Allison Remick, Grove City, Ohio
  • Staff’s Choice: Touch-Aid, a capacitive adhesive bandage for your smartphone-using fingers, by Isaiah Nagrant, Brunswick, Ohio

The STEMIE Coalition is a non-profit organization that recently launched to advance invention and entrepreneurship education in K-12 schools through in-school curricula; the NICEE is the organization’s marquee annual event to celebrate invention and entrepreneurship in the schools. The organization’s goal is to enable schools in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., to teach more than 10 million kids annually within five years.

All competitors attending NICEE were winners of partner invention and entrepreneurship education competitions, and attendance was by invitation only. NICEE will return to the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, June 1-3, 2017. For a complete list of NICEE 2016 winners, visit

About The STEMIE Coalition
The STEMIE Coalition is a non-profit, umbrella membership organization of youth invention and entrepreneurship programs across the U.S. It provides much-needed national attention for and drives interest in K-12 invention and entrepreneurship, while empowering local organizations with best practices and resources. The STEMIE Coalition is the first such group created to elevate invention and entrepreneurship education of K-12 students across the country.

The coalition is partnering with STEM and entrepreneurship programs with in-school curriculum and competitions to drive innovation and problem-solving skills into our next generation workforce. The coalition’s goal, with partners such as United Technologies Corp., Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., and Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., and is to make an extensive, immediate, and measurable impact on youth invention and entrepreneurship in the U.S. For more information, visit

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