After battling an opposing team of creators, Team A emerged victorious with the Connected Car: an invention that upgrades older cars’ intelligence and automation capabilities with new technology. Conceptualizing the Connected Car and turning it into a functioning reality required serious teamwork and inspiring tech wizardry. Now, we get to hear from the four winning contestants — Michelle Galemmo, Lincoln Black, Min Yong Kim, and Sean Spillane — about their Invent-Off experience, their sources of inspiration, and their predictions for the future.

Lincoln Black

Lincoln Black is a young inventor who experienced a major milestone during the Invent-Off: his high school graduation. His experience on his high school’s robotics team sparked his interest in biomedial engineering, which he plans to pursue in college. He may be the youngest member of Team A, but Lincoln’s intelligence, creativity, and passion for RC planes and drones inspired his older, more experienced teammates.

What was your first invention?

My first invention (as simple as it it sounds) was a paper airplane. As a young child I was enamored with anything that could fly. Paper airplanes served as the perfect entry level ‘invention’ for me. I would always make my own original folds and modifications to yield different flying styles. That eventually lead to RC aircrafts.

What surprised you most about the competition?

Even though both teams intended to win, everyone was willing to help their opponents with any technical problems they ran into. We were two separate teams but at many points we felt like one group of people who simply shared the same interests and were separated by our different inventions.

Michelle Galemmo

Michelle Galemmo is an inventor and student at UC Berkeley where she majors in Practice of Art and Cognitive Science and minors in Computer Science — a degree that reflects her interest in the relationship between design and science and how it influences innovation. Michelle started inventing at a young age, using cardboard boxes to create sets for her very own infomercials, and she’s been creating ever since.

Who’s your inventor idol?

I would say my FIRST Robotics coach from high school, Mr.Ostrow, while we came up with many inventive mechanisms and robots over the years he had a greater vision for our team. Creating a space for collaboration, invention, and creation in the stark high school environment, challenging students from across the social spheres to work together towards one common goal.


What do you consider your most important contribution to your Invent-Off team’s success?

I am really proud of my work in the ideation process –forcing every one to dream really big and think outside of the box so we could push the envelope with our concept. I also was happy that in the last days I was able to help with Min with the programing, and developing the code for the LED portion that worked with AllJoyn.

What’s one technological advance or invention that you’d like to see become reality in your lifetime?


Well there has been a lot of talk about the hyperloop from LA to SF, which I think would be really cool. I think there is a lot of progress still to be made in our transportation, from resources used to comfort and time efficiency which could really change the way we live our daily lives –and where we live!

Min Yong Kim

Min Yong Kim’s passion for innovation drove him to work his way through community college and make his way up the corporate ladder. He may be the Chief Technology Officer for ERP Maestro with seventeen years of computer and coding experience under his belt, but he still makes time for his side projects: making YouTube videos that help viewers with developer tasks and karaoke.

What was your first invention?

A login script for my DOS based PC. It basically asked three questions before allowing someone in. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about Ctrl+C at the time.

What contribution to your winning invention are you the most proud of?

Implementing the AllJoyn API to enable the distributed multi-component communication between all of the devices.

What’s one technological invention — realistic or not — that you like to see become a reality in your lifetime?

Something that can convert materials, cheaply and efficiently into other potential useful by-products. The intent is so that instead of throwing our garbage away everywhere, we put it in a magic box that allows us to truly recycle everything.

Sean Spillane

Sean Spillane is a robotics teacher at BKBots in Brooklyn, an after-school class and summer program he founded with the goal of using discovery learning to explore the tenets of STEM. Sean’s job as a math teacher and background in robotics, mechanical engineering, and programming inspired his first creation: a tool similar to a manual calculator that helped teach the relationship between sine, cosine, and tangent.

Who’s your inventor idol?

DaVinci, Newton, Leibnitz, Turing, and most of all, Richard Feynman.

What contribution to your winning invention are you the most proud of?

Wiring up the ultrasonic sensors and accelerometer on super short notice. And for being the sweatiest contestant.


What did you learn from your peers during that competition that you’ll carry into your future work?

Lincoln inspired me to take drone tech more seriously, Min inspired me with his dedication and made me want to learn more about coding, and Michelle inspired me with her ability to combine art and tech.

If any inventors were up to the Invent-Off challenge, it’s these four. Their range of experience levels, interests, and areas of expertise produced a dynamic team that was fascinating to watch. And if you’re hoping there’s a reunion in the works, your prayers have been answered. Team A will be back together in January at Qualcomm’s CES booth. Who knows, maybe they’ll whip up another invention capable of changing our daily lives.


If you missed any of the Invent-Off or want a second helping of invention prowess, head here to catch up on the competition.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Qualcomm and Studio@Gawker.