Con­stan­tinos Mavroidis hasn’t always been an inventor. “It was the spirit that already exists at North­eastern that got me started,” he said.

When the Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engi­neering came to North­eastern from Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity in 2004, he had two patents issued to his name. Today he has more than three dozen that have been approved or are pending, an achieve­ment that was rec­og­nized on Tuesday by his elec­tion to the National Academy of Inventors.

The high pro­fes­sional dis­tinc­tion is accorded to aca­d­emic inven­tors who have demon­strated a pro­lific spirit of inno­va­tion by cre­ating or facil­i­tating out­standing inven­tions that have made a tan­gible impact on quality of life, eco­nomic devel­op­ment, and the wel­fare of society.

In the early days of his career, Mavroidis focused on the­o­ret­ical research in robotics and mechan­ical sys­tems, not on building devices. But when he came to North­eastern, the university’s entre­pre­neurial resources and cul­ture con­vinced him that his work could have more of an impact.

What fas­ci­nated me and became an objec­tive when I came to North­eastern was to create new devices that could help people,” said Mavroidis. “Even­tu­ally what we develop in the lab will give us new prod­ucts that could be useful to people in their everyday life or to improve their quality of life.”

When­ever his team starts a new project, he said, the researchers do a sig­nif­i­cant amount of back­ground research to iden­tify unfilled market needs. “Once you do this most of the time the new ideas come by them­selves,” he said.

Since joining the Col­lege of Engi­neering fac­ulty, Mavroidis has ush­ered more than 100 under­grad­u­ates through the inven­tion and entre­pre­neur­ship process in addi­tion to some 35 stu­dents pur­suing master’s degrees and doctorates.

A big reason for the huge number of inven­tions is the senior cap­stone design course,” he said. Every year, Mavroidis and his grad­uate stu­dents advise three under­grad­uate teams in bringing new ideas through to the devel­op­ment stage. All of them, he said, have lead to new inventions.

This semester alone, Mavroidis’ lab devel­oped two new robotic devices for gait reha­bil­i­ta­tion and a “smart bicycle” that pre­vents acci­dents through the inte­gra­tion of sensors.

Many of his inven­tions are in the area of med­ical robotics and mechatronics—or intel­li­gent mechan­ical systems—but they also per­vade a wide spec­trum of appli­ca­tions. He is working with one stu­dent to develop a com­pact motor for use in the Mars rover, while another project is focused on devel­oping new 3-​​D printers that allow users to embed elec­tronic com­po­nents into printed devices. “It’s a new kind of 3-​​D printing,” Mavroidis said, “but it’s also a new kind of robot.”

That project is one of two that have devel­oped into a com­mer­cial enter­prise, both of which are enjoying great suc­cess. 3-​​Spark, LLC, a spinoff of Mavroidis’ lab­o­ra­tory spe­cial­izing in 3-​​D printing tech­nolo­gies for the edu­ca­tion and con­sumer mar­kets, was a finalist in the pres­ti­gious Mass­Chal­lenge com­pe­ti­tion this year, while Andros­Ro­botics, which is working to com­mer­cialize the gait reha­bil­i­ta­tion devices, is perusing gov­ern­ment funding from the Small Busi­ness Tech­nology Transfer program.

Mavroidis cites the Center for Research Inno­va­tion, Health Sci­ences Entre­pre­neurs, and IDEA, Northeastern’s student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator, as the dri­ving forces behind his lab’s suc­cess. “CRI and the new team over there have cul­ti­vated a lot of inno­va­tion and an entre­pre­neur­ship spirit,” Mavroidis said. “They help us with the inven­tion dis­clo­sure and patent appli­ca­tion processes for every­thing we do or think in the lab and many of these things lead to new patents.” Once a new patent has been issued, the center has even helped com­mer­cialize the lab’s inventions.

Mavroidis—and 142 other inventors—will be inducted into the NAI during the 3rd Annual Con­fer­ence of the National Academy of Inven­tors. The induc­tion ceremony—led by the United States Patent and Trade­mark Office’s Deputy U.S. Com­mis­sioner for Patents Operations—will take place on March 7, 2014, in Alexan­dria, Va., at the head­quar­ters of the U.S. Patent and Trade­mark Office.