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Olympus Announces 2006 Winners Of Olympus Innovation Award Program

Enhanced Program Recognizes Winners from Lehigh University, University of Pittsburgh and University of Nevada-Reno

CENTER VALLEY, PA (March 27, 2006) - Olympus, a precision technology leader in designing and delivering innovative solutions in healthcare and consumer electronics worldwide, today announced Dr. John Ochs, Lehigh University; Dr. Michael Lovell, University of Pittsburgh; and Dr. John Kleppe, University of Nevada-Reno as the 2006 winners in the Olympus Innovation Award Program. The program recognizes individuals who have fostered and demonstrated innovative thinking in education. The winners received their awards from Dr. Stephen S. Tang, group vice president and general manager, Life Science, Olympus America, in Portland, Ore . at the 10 th Annual Meeting of the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), Olympus' partner in conducting the program.

Ochs, 57, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Integrated Product Development (IPD) program at Lehigh University, won the Olympus Innovation Award, which recognizes a faculty member who fosters an environment of innovative thinking among students through inventive teaching methods and hands-on opportunities. Lovell, 38, associate dean for research and associate professor of industrial engineering, School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, received the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award. Offered this year for the first time, the award recognizes an individual who has inspired innovating thinking in students in a discrete area and who, the judges believe, has the potential to make even greater contributions to the field in the future. Kleppe, 67, chairman and professor of electrical engineering, University of Nevada-Reno, won the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award, another new award category recognizing faculty members who have demonstrated a sustained contribution throughout their careers to stimulating and inspiring innovative thinking in students in their own universities and throughout academia.

"I am honored to have served as Olympus' judge for our 2006 award program with the NCIIA, and I salute the winners for their outstanding accomplishments," said Tang. "They have not only been exemplary teachers but also champions of innovation and entrepreneurship, which are integral parts of our culture at Olympus and critical for companies to successfully compete in today's global economy."

"We are excited about the extended award program, which allows us to recognize the work of more individuals," added Phil Weilerstein, executive director, NCIIA. "Through this program, Olympus continues its strong commitment to education as an important way to foster innovation in America."

Ochs, who will receive $10,000 as winner of the Olympus Innovation Award, was recognized for founding and building Lehigh's 12-year-old IPD program, a unique undergraduate program that fully integrates the three fundamental pillars of successful product design and commercialization: design arts, engineering and business. Ochs has also championed the Lehigh Entrepreneurs Network of alumni, students and staff. He was instrumental in forming cross-disciplinary faculty working groups that have piloted dozens of new courses and hands-on interdisciplinary programs throughout the university. These programs have attracted millions of dollars of development funds to support the infrastructure now in place. Schools across the world emulate the IPD program, which has won several national awards. Ochs, a former national chair of the American Society for Engineering Education's Entrepreneurship Division, was a finalist in last year's Olympus Innovation Award Program.

Kleppe, who created and operated a successful manufacturing company while working at the University of Nevada-Reno (UNR), won the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award for his outstanding 37-year career as an engineering educator. He has received several teaching awards. His pioneering senior capstone class, supported by UNR's Lemelson Center for Invention, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is recognized nationally and internationally for teaching engineering students how to invent, patent, produce, market and sell inventions. Many of Kleppe's former students have either started their own companies or have assumed key responsibilities at emerging companies. In addition to his work at the university, Kleppe has taught at Northern Nevada high schools. His award includes a $2,500 prize.

Lovell received the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award for his work fostering innovation among student entrepreneurship teams during just five years at the University of Pittsburgh. As the founding director of the Swanson Center for Product Innovation, Lovell secured NCIIA funding to develop a novel curriculum in new product development for undergraduate business and engineering students that resulted in more than 70 NCIIA-supported E-Teams (E for Excellence and Entrepreneurship), which in turn formed seven companies and attracted additional NCIIA grants. Lovell also developed an E-Team Prototyping Service Center that led to the formation of RAPID, a network of 21 academic institutions that are committed to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among E-Teams. In recognition of his work, Lovell will receive $1,000.

Ochs, Lovell and Kleppe were selected from numerous qualified faculty nominated by colleagues at NCIIA member institutions, including many top colleges and research institutions in the United States. The winners were determined by a committee of five judges, including Steven Nichols, professor of mechanical engineering, University of Texas at Austin, the winner of the 2005 inaugural Olympus Innovation Award; Tang; Weilerstein; Dr. Abigail Barrow, founding director, Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center; and Dr. Arthur A. Boni, deputy director and John R. Thorne professor, Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon University.

Selection criteria for the Olympus Innovation Award included teaching and program design innovation, problem solving, quality of outcomes, quantitative impact, institutional change, individual influence, inspiration to innovate, motivation to action and societal impact. Nominations for the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award were evaluated based on initiative, institutional impact, motivation to action, teaching and program design innovation and influence on peers. Review criteria for the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award included period of active engagement, respect of peers, teaching and program design innovation, quality of outcomes, quantitative impact and positive institutional change. All selection criteria were weighted and evaluated on a 1-5 rating scale.

The Olympus Innovation Award Program, now in its second year, represents Olympus' ongoing commitment to technological innovation and education. For more information about the program, contact the NCIIA at info@nciia.org or visit www.nciia.org .

About Olympus
Olympus is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering innovative solutions in healthcare and consumer electronics worldwide.

Olympus works collaboratively with its customers and its parent company, Tokyo-based Olympus Corporation, to leverage R&D investment in precision technology and manufacturing processes across diverse business lines. These include:

  • Gastrointestinal endoscopes, accessories, and minimally invasive surgical products;
  • Advanced clinical and research microscopes;
  • Lab automation systems, chemistry-immuno and blood bank analyzers and reagents; and
  • Digital and film cameras, and digital voice recorders.
In the U. S. and Canada, Olympus America serves healthcare, scientific and commercial laboratory markets with integrated product solutions and financial, educational and consulting services that help customers efficiently, reliably, safely, and easily achieve superior results. Olympus is the leader in gastrointestinal endoscopy and clinical and educational microscopes. The company's consumer electronics business spans North and South America.


The NCIIA was established in 1995 with support from The Lemelson Foundation. Its mission is to foster invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship in higher education ā€“ components of the higher education curriculum that are vital to the nation's economic future.

The NCIIA accomplishes its goals by supporting curricula and programs that encourage the development and the work of E-Teams ā€“ multidisciplinary teams of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to take an idea for a technological innovation and bring it through prototype development to commercialization. The ā€œEā€ stands for excellence and entrepreneurship.


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