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Achievement: Jessica Laviolette & Paul Nikandrou

December 09, 2009 - Jessica Laviolette, a 2006 Brandon High School graduate, was issued U.S. Patent number 7608438 on Oct. 27 for a process she created in which vacuum science and a selectively permeable membrane are used to make ethanol production 100 percent efficient.

Laviolette had been working on the process since she was in high school. She won first place in engineering in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2006 for her project, "Optimizing Ethanol Production Efficiency." (more on the process can be found by searching "Jessica Laviolette" at thecitizenonline.com) Laviolette graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology on June 5, a year early, with a bachelor of science degree in psychology. Her fiance, Paul Nikandrou, graduated the same day with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. The pair started competing in entrepreneurial competitions at MIT Sloan School of Business when Laviolette was a sophomore. Laviolette won the first annual MIT elevator pitch contest in 2007, during which she had 60 seconds to convince potential investors they needed to discuss her idea further. She and Nikandrou, a Fulbright scholar from Cyprus, have an investor who is funding an ethanol company for them in Cyprus. The couple is also working on wind farm development and ethanol development in the United States. Laviolette is the daughter of Tom and DeDe Laviolette of Ortonville.

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