The laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder, is one of the most frequent surgeries performed in the United States, with an estimated 922,000 performed annually. Although laparoscopic removal significantly decreases surgical risk and recovery time, difficulties can arise when removing a gallstone-ridden gallbladder through a twelve-millimeter port. An important step in the surgery occurs when the physician puts the gallbladder into a laparoscopic retrieval bag (endobag); gallstones bulge at the bottom of the bag and can become wedged in the removal site.
To solve the problem, this E-Team is designing an endobag that employs cross-linked synthetic fibers nestled between pieces of polyurethane to create a structure similar to a novelty finger trap. When the surgeon pulls up, the contents inside the endobag lineate (form lines) due to the resulting radial force, preventing bulging of the gallbladder during extraction. The device integrates with the current procedure and tools; no new techniques or equipment are necessary.
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, 2010 - $20,000
This E-Team is developing IntelliWheels, an after-market addition to off-the-shelf wheelchairs that significantly decreases the effort it takes to propel manual wheelchairs. IntelliWheels uses a gear shifting system to make pushing a wheelchair easier: the user moves forward, backward, and turns by pushing on the hand rims on either side like normal, but two automatic transmissions continuously change gears to keep the user operating in the most efficient way possible. This happens automatically, without the user thinking about it or needing to do anything.
The team built one prototype already, but it did not perform well. The team is now looking to build on what was learned from the first prototype and continue the development of IntelliWheels into a viable product and business focused on the US market.
Over three million US children per year are put under sedation in dental offices. While sedation keeps children calm and still during procedures ranging from cleanings to tooth extractions, it also has potentially fatal consequences. Thirty-three percent of adverse events related to pediatric sedation occur in the dental setting, with 91% of the adverse events resulting in death or permanent neurological injury. Further, 80% of the adverse events involved respiratory problems, since sedatives blunt respiratory drive and relax the upper airway musculature.
This E-Team is developing a device that monitors a child’s breathing while he or she is under the influence of sedatives. The small, wearable, disposable device, called PhonoSafe, alerts the dentist of sub-optimal breathing that lasts longer than fifteen seconds. It consists of a microphone placed on the throat at the level of the trachea to detect breathing sounds, hardware for signal processing to isolate the sounds from ambient noise, and software to analyze the respiratory rate and detect apnea (lack of breathing).
The Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program at Penn State is a collaborative program geared towards creating a freer, fairer, friendlier, and more sustainable world. The program focuses on real-world contexts in indigenous communities around the world.
This grant helps to fill a critical gap in the HESE program by developing a course dedicated to business planning for social ventures in the US and abroad. The course covers the fundamental concepts of social entrepreneurship and employs diverse case studies and experiential learning activities to help students develop a deeper understanding of social problems and devise innovative enterprise solutions to address them.
While HESE currently exists as a certificate program, Penn State is exploring the opportunity to expand it into a minor.
University of Illinois - Urbana-champaign, 2009 - $8,000
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, despite many creativity and entrepreneurship activities, lacks a living-learning opportunity for students early in their academic careers.
The Technology Entrepreneur Center and University Housing are collaborating with several other units to found an Innovation LLC to allow creative and innovative students from diverse disciplines across campus to network with like-minded peers and provide 24-hour access to a “garage space” that offers resources to encourage students to turn their ideas into valuable business ventures and help them work thought common problems encountered in the innovation process. Other benefits include interaction between students who otherwise might never have met on campus, mentors who are business leaders and entrepreneurs providing real world advice and business contacts, and a lab space.
Over the last several years, NYU-POLY has been immersed in an initiative known as I2E: a transformation to integrate innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship into its core focus. Part of I2E was a $2 million grant recently awarded from New York State for construction of the Center for Innovation in Technology and Entertainment, a space focusing on the development new technologies and ventures centered around digital media.
Given the steps achieved thus far in the I2E initiative, NYU-POLY is making further curriculum changes in its Computer Science department. First, changes will be made to its Senior Design project course, a capstone project course, which will include categorizing material into three areas: (a) creativity exercises, (b) problem identification and needs analysis, and (c) talks from invited inventors and entrepreneurs. These changes will be in parallel with the piloting of “Inventor’s Studio,” a new interdisciplinary project experience where students can further develop their ideas in digital media.
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, 2009 - $8,000
This grant supports a collaboration between the School of the Arts and the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to develop a cross-disciplinary certificate program in innovation and sustainability.
The plan is for the certificate program to be taught by engineering and arts faculty, based on the formation of E-Teams throughout a four-course sequence. Courses will focus on creativity and design processes, innovation and sustainable design, product realization, innovation and commercialization.
Arizona State University at the Polytechnic Campus, 2009 - $30,000
Faculty from the GlobalResolve program at ASU is developing a capstone courses and a certificate for Global Innovation for Village Entrepreneurship (GIVE) with the express purpose of creating solutions to village problems in developing countries and then building businesses around the solutions. The capstone courses are:
1) Global Impact Entrepreneurship: Introduction to global poverty, entrepreneurship and village appraisal;
2) Village Immersion: Travel to and assessment of needs of a developing village using GlobalResolve partners to identify the village and arrange for local help. The goal is to talk to the villagers and experience what poverty looks like, feels like and the specific needs of the villagers and to mentor the village in venture startup.
3) Solution Development: Creating a sustainable technological business solution for a village. This course will bring together the theory from course 1 and the experience from the field trips in course 2 into a set of products developed for a village in order to create village-based sustainable business ventures.
The capstone is also participating in the Acara Institute’s Challenge program, with multiple partners for global impact.
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, 2009 - $20,500
2010 is the first year of the Acara Summer Institute, a two-month, intensive incubation for selected teams from the Acara Challenge. Institute attendees are students from ten US and eight Indian universities who will be selected as winning teams from the Challenge. The goal of the institute is to develop and nurture startup social ventures via an end-to-end facilitation, starting with providing course materials, the competition (Challenge), mentoring and financial support. Teams travel to India, then spend the rest of the summer in residence at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, attending lectures and other training and working with mentors to launch their business.
This grant aids in developing, assessing and refining the content of the Acara Summer Institute; establishing processes that incorporate networks of mentors, funders and supporting companies in a structured fashion; and developing a plan for long-term institutional sustainability of the institute. In 2010, the institute aims to incubate at least two businesses.