In the US, nearly fifty-seven million tons of traditional steel reinforcement bar (rebar) are used every year in the manufacturing of concrete. Torex International (now Polytorx LLC) developed a new steel fiber additive for concrete reinforcement, dubbed Helix. Originally designed for blast and earthquake resistant structures, Helix is toothpick sized, coated metallic wire that has been twisted into a helix shape. When millions of the small wires are dispersed into concrete, they lock into place, forming a strong matrix that increases the concrete's blast and impact resistance up to five times over traditional concrete.
As of 2007, Polytorx is growing rapidly, having exceeded $2 million in sales. In the process, the company has garnered major entrepreneurial awards, including the Michigan Technology Tricorridor Award, a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Grant, and the prestigious Carrot Capital Business Plan Competition. Visit the company's website at helixfiber.com.
Bullex, launched at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received Advanced E-Team grants in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to develop the Intelligent Training System (ITS), an innovative fire extinguisher training device. The majority of today's live-fire extinguisher training is done by taking a bucket and filling it with kerosene or diesel, and water. After an instructor lights the fire, a trainee is given an extinguisher and told to put it out. This method is expensive, can be dangerous, and often requires a HAZMAT cleanup.
ITS makes fire extinguisher training more efficient by simulating the extinguishing of a real fire, removing costly extinguishant from the equation. First, flames are generated in a clean-burning, propane-fed pan equipped with digital sensors. If users aim properly and hit the sensors, they can quell the fire without the mess. The sensors then give out a reading on how well a trainee used the extinguisher. The device is cleaner, safer, and easier to use than the traditional training method.
Bullex launched successfully in 2003, and now has 60 employees and estimated annual sales of $7.3 million. The company was featured in Fortune Small Business Magazine after making it to the final round of the magazine's national business plan competition, receiving honorable mention. Their customers include the US Navy, Northrop Grumman, Michelin, International Truck, and Trane.
Recreational power boats consume a large amount of fuel, with a typical thirty-foot boat yielding efficiencies of only two miles per gallon. The hydrofoil, a wing-like device that extends under the boat and lifts the hull out of the water, reduces drag and can potentially double the miles per gallon efficiency while improving seaworthiness and aesthetic appeal.
The AHS Hydrofoil E-Team developed a retractable hydrofoil system that increases the fuel efficiency of cruiser-type pleasure boats up to fifty feet in length. Retractable foils can be lifted out of the water when not in use, enabling easier cleaning, shallow water navigation, and the option of cruising in displacement mode. AHS is the first company to develop and produce a retractable hydrofoil system.
The cost of care and compensation of military personnel with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) exceeds $300 million annually: the largest defense-related disability expenditure. Existing noise reduction devices (earmuffs, earplugs, and commercial active noise reduction headsets) do not adequately provide the broadband noise reduction necessary to prevent NIHL. Over the course of several years, this E-Team devised, tested and commercialized a novel, high performance active noise reduction system for communication and hearing protection headsets through feedforward adaptive least mean square (LMS) control.
Mass-produced DNA is used in a number of industries, including nanotechnology applications, gene therapy, and as standards in diagnostic tests. However, existing DNA production technology is slow, inefficient, personnel-intensive, and provides opportunities for human error and cross contamination of products. In response to the need for better, faster DNA production, this E-Team developed the Triathlon Thermal Cycler, a continuous, rapid thermal cycler that replicates DNA 150% more efficiently than the traditional thermal cycler and can potentially produce DNA 800% more efficiently due to its scalability.
The original E-Team consisted of Derek Gregg and Justin Swick, two IST undergraduates in the College of Science. After incorporating as Vandalia Research in March 2004, the company now has five employees, with Derek handling business development, Justin handling research and manufacturing design, a full-time lab technician on hand, and two Marshall professors, Dr. Elizabeth Murray and Dr. Michael Norton, on the management team. They secured an exclusive licensing agreement with Marshall for use of the cycler, and recently completed their first round of significant funding, securing almost $1 million from local West Virginia angel investors.
This E-Team designed an environmentally friendly manual lawnmower, the Kwik Kut. Kwik Kut is a low energy, efficient, torque prime mover with an intelligent blade cleaning system. It trims and cuts grass simultaneously, requires only a 10% variation of force (opposed to traditional reel mowers' 100%), uses variable gear ratios to deal with unlimited grass height, and provides an easy system to replace blades.
MedfoLink is a new software technology designed to solve the issues surrounding medical records. The majority of medical records remain on paper, raising issues of patient privacy, potential loss of patient history, and performance limitations that hinder existing medical language processing technologies. MedfoLink is a java technology that uses medical language processing and the Unified Medical Language Source to enable a computer to accurately record and interpret data from patient records. Benefits of the system include: security to ensure patient privacy, consolidated patient histories, and the elimination of clerical errors.
The team completed and tested a beta version of the software in order to secure government and private funding.
The Know Wear E-Team developed an innovative, portable device for athletes incorporating GPS and accelerometer technology. The system is designed to complement biofeedback systems such as heart rate monitors, giving the user detailed statistics on his or her performance based on motion. The data is transferable to a computer, which analyzes the readings according to various sports.
Several companies currently provide detailed analyses of an athlete's performance, but none without bulky, cumbersome equipment. Know Wear's system appeals to athletes wishing to measure their performance with a highly portable device. The team is marketing its product toward professional athletes and home users alike.
A large segment of popular consumer electronic devices (personal computers, cellular phones, personal digital assistants, etc.) have microprocessors acting as brains. These microprocessors consume a large amount of power and must be actively cooled in order to function reliably. The currently available heat sinking equipment needed to cool the electronics is bulky, inefficient, and costly. The TMT MicroSink E-Team developed low cost, high performance heat removal technology that blows air through a microscale heat sink without the use of moving parts, allowing large amounts of heat to be removed cheaply and efficiently. The new technology enables the development of chip-coolers that are considerably smaller, lighter, and quieter than currently available heat sink-fan combinations.
The E-Team included two doctoral students specializing in physics, mechanical engineering, and energy engineering. A faculty advisor with expertise in mechanical engineering supported the students along with two industry experts.
The Software for Automated Mold Design E-Team aimed to reduce development time and product cost of current mold design methods with software that automates the mold design process.
The software automatically designs molds for complex objects such as automotive parts, toys, plastic consumer goods, and scanned objects. The product automates part design, process planning, price quotation, and mold design for scanned irregular shapes. These innovative features significantly reduce the time, expertise, and costs traditionally associated with mold design.
The E-Team consisted of two graduate students and a professor from the mechanical engineering department. Six industry experts supported the team.