BY MARY LYNN FERNAU
Special to Rice News
The Ice Owls team won first place overall in Rice University's third annual Undergraduate Elevator Pitch Competition with a plan to design and build a device for vaccine storage in developing nations. The competition was held Nov. 17 at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business.
Forty teams presented 90-second "elevator pitches" -- overviews brief enough that they could be given on an elevator ride -- to a group of 275 judges. The teams were evaluated on the commercialization potential of their projects and were asked to consider such factors as customer needs, market applications and unique differentiators. Prizes totaling $6,150 were awarded to the winning proposals. Competition judges included investors from throughout the Houston area, many of whom are involved with the Rice Business Plan Competition.
The elevator pitch competition was created to expose engineering students to the possibility and process of commercializing the technologies they create, said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. This year’s event was open to anyundergraduate student team that wanted to pitch a product.
“Fourteen teams of non-engineering students were a wonderful addition to the 26 teams of engineering students who pitched their capstone engineering design projects at the competition," said Maria Oden, professor in the practice of engineering education and director of Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. "We hope that entrepreneurial opportunities and exposure to the possibility of commercialization of their work will help all the students think beyond the initial stages of an idea and consider taking that idea into the marketplace.”
Burke added, “We hope that a number of these projects will move forward and become commercial successes and result in the formation of new startup ventures."
First place overall ($1,500)
The Ice Owls' plan called for the design and construction of a system that uses steam from a capteur-soleil, a low-cost technology to capture the sun's energy, to make ice. The system will be used in developing nations for vaccine storage. Team members included Victor Leyva, Shai Bernstein, Tristan Clement, Geoffrey Holmes, Travis Howell and Yean Lee.
Second place ($750)
Breath Alert developed a system capable of detecting apnea in premature infants and is suitable for use in crowded, poorly staffed settings. Team members included Rachel Alexander, Rachel Gilbert, Jordan Schermerhorn, Bridget Ugoh and Andrea Ulrich.
Social and Global Health Ventures ($400 per team)
Citybusters' plan called for development of an air-sterilization system tailored to the demands and limitations of a bus environment that has the potential to reduce the spread of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Team members included Shidong Chen, Grace Ching, Jerry Lue, Sundeep Mandava and Joey Spinella.
PEEK developed a cost-effective and portable endoscope with high resolution for providing point-of-care screening in the developing world. Team members included Rebecca Hernandez, Charisma Kaushik, Jean Kim, Amy Liao and Sabha Momin.
Medical and Rehabilitation Technologies ($400)
TCOIL's plan called for the design of two prototypes: a transcutaneous energy transfer system suitable for implantation and capable of powering Procyrion’s cardiac assist device, and a wireless system capable of controlling pump operation and determining critical pump operating parameters. Team members included Alexander Dobranich, Trevor Mitcham, Michael Torre, Hana Wang, Erin Watson and Tyler Young.
Energy, Sustainability and Electronic Technologies ($400)
Rice Recovery's project sought to develop a system that can harvest energy to supplement existing energy production systems in a solar electric vehicle, the Rice University Solar Car. Team members included Andrew Owens, Ethan Wagner, Kerry Wang and Robert Wilson.
Research and Innovation: Laboratory, NASA & Military ($400)
Collar ID designed a new collar that can be fitted quickly in the field of combat to properly immobilize military patients with spinal cord injuries without exacerbating injuries. Team members included Kareem Ayoub, Alicia Buck, Adriana Gamboa, Michael Heisel, Irma Martinez and Daniel Peng.
Open Challenge: Hardware Solutions ($400)
Loco4Motion proposed a cellphone case capable of converting the energy generated from daily motion into electricity. Team members included Sonia Garcia, Allison Garza, Vivaswath Kumar, Chester Kupchella and Joseph Song.
Open Challenge: Networking, Software and Public-interest Ventures ($400)
SNOWMAN's plan would establish a combination of algorithms to manage social-network content according to each user's preference on friends and industries. Team members included Mira Chen, Mingming Jiang and Frank Zhang.
First place, Houston Entrepreneurs’ Organization ($1,000)
Impossible Challenges developed a design that will potentially allow the launch of microsatellites with a mass around 1-2 kilograms into orbit for a fraction of what NASA or any private company spends per kilogram. Team members included Andrew Amis, Joe Anderson, David Sullivan and Kern Vijayvargiya.
Second place, Houston Entrepreneurs’ Organization ($500)
Wisga's plan would leverage the power of reviews to help students discover the internships, research positions and opportunities of their dreams. Reviews help students find the experience that is the best fit for them and provide organizations that recruit on Wisga with the best applicants possible. Team members included Ian Akash Morrison and Aniruddha Sen.
The competition was part of Rice's involvement in Global Entrepreneurship Week, which was sponsored in part by the Kauffman Foundation. The event was hosted by the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and was sponsored by BP, the Houston Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the Jones Graduate School Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Rice's Center for Engineering Leadership, the George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Jones School.
-- Mary Lynn Fernau is marketing director for the Rice Alliance.
Check out the OEDK website at oedk.rice.edu to see a list of all of the winners!
The undergraduate elevator pitch competition was held on last Thursday, November 17th and Ice Owls took the first place $1,500 prize. Congratulations to mechanical engineering majors Victor Leyva, Shai Bernstein, Tristan Clement, Geoffrey Holmes, Travis Howell, and Yean Lee on their win. The team was pitching their design project, which uses solar power to produce ice. See the list below for all of the winners!
1st Place Overall: $1,500
Ice Owls - Victor Leyva, Shai Bernstein, Tristan Clement, Geoffrey Holmes, Travis Howell, Yean Lee
2nd Place Overall: $750
Breath Alert - Rachel Alexander, Rachel Gilbert, Jordan Schermerhorn, Bridget Ugoh, Andrea Ulrich
Social and Global Health Ventures: ($400 each team)
Citybusters - Shidong Chen, Grace Ching, Jerry Lue, Sundeep Mandava, Joey Spinella
PEEK - Rebecca Hernandez, Charisma Kaushik, Jean Kim, Amy Liao, Sabha Momin
tCOIL - Alexander Dobranich, Trevor Mitcham, Michael Torre, Hana Wang, Erin Watson, Tyler Young
Rice Recovery - Andrew Owens, Ethan Wagner, Kerry Wang,
Collar ID - Kareem Ayoub, Alicia Buck, Adriana Gamboa,
Michael Heisel, Irma Martinez, Daniel Peng
Loco4Motion - Sonia Garcia, Allison Garza, Vivaswath Kumar,
Chester Kupchella, Joseph Song
Open Challenge: Networking, Software, and Public-interest Ventures ($400)
SNOWMAN - Mira Chen, Mingming Jiang, Frank Zhang
1st Place: $1,000
Impossible Challenges - Andrew Amis, Joe Anderson, David Sullivan, Kern Vijayvargiya
2nd Place: $500
Wisga - Ian Akash Morrison, Aniruddha Sen
Engineering students reached an early peak for their design project at the Texas Space Grant Consortium Design Challenge!
Rice University engineering students reached an early peak in the creation of their senior capstone design project when they won a batch of awards at the annual Texas Space Grant Consortium Design Challenge this week.
Team members are bioengineering majors Rob Bauer, Malcolm Blake, Eric Lee and Thierry Rignol and mechanical engineering major Zachary Foster. They were the only Rice representatives among eight teams. The other teams were from Texas A&M, Texas A&M at Kingsville, the University of Texas and the University of Texas, El Paso.
"We got to talk to some very informative NASA engineers, who thought our design selection was appropriate and a vast improvement over the current design," said team leader Bauer. The teams also enjoyed a backstage NASA tour.
Team Helios advisers are Matthew Wettergreen, lecturer in bioengineering; Brent Houchens, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; Maria Oden, professor in the practice of engineering education and director of theOshman Engineering Design Kitchen; and Bara Reyna of the Space Medicine Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
In anticipation of a visit to Rice University last spring, I was sent an agenda for my time in Houston. One item in particular caught my eye: meetings with a number of faculty members in a venue identified as the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. I located the building on a campus map, but that was of little help for understanding exactly what a design kitchen was.
In the absence of facts or context, I let my imagination carry me away in the direction of fancy and fantasy. I surmised that a “design kitchen” was a carefully thought-out academic metaphor for a place where fresh design ideas were cooked up, recipes for invention followed, and new concoctions put to the test. There could never be too many cooks in a design kitchen, I reasoned, because the more interdisciplinary participants the better. And if you could not stand the Texas heat, you could always go into the air-conditioned design kitchen.
When I finally arrived at Rice’s design kitchen, I found it to be a wonderfully open and welcoming space. Since my visit occurred near the end of the semester, my guide explained, I would have to excuse the tools, materials, and works in progress that spilled over and out from the otherwise neatly and amply separated tables at which student design teams worked to beat end-of-term deadlines.
A large and well-equipped machine shop stretches the length of one side of the building, easily seen through the wall of windows that separated it and its dust and noise from the workspace proper. Most of a perpendicular wall is lined with conference rooms enclosed by glass, so that it is immediately obvious whether a room is occupied or not. These rooms are available for design teams to confer among themselves and with faculty advisors. They and the design kitchen generally had become so popular across campus that even students outside engineering had begun to flock to it. Thought was being given to expanding into the basement.
As I met with faculty members associated with the university’s design programs, I waited for an opportunity to ask the origin of the term design kitchen. It turns out that the explanation is much simpler than I imagined. The building, which used to be the central food-preparation facility for the campus, had been abandoned when newer facilities became available. The old kitchen became a storage room, but its proximity to the engineering buildings and its large open plan made it attractive for converting into student design-project space. A $2.4 million gift from Kenneth Oshman, a Rice alumnus, and his wife, Barbara, to establish a place where engineering students from all departments could collaborate on design projects made the transformation possible.
The thoughtfully renovated interior space was so successful that the design program grew accordingly. When it was time to give a name to the facility, the design faculty considered some familiar designations: design laboratory, design studio, project space, etc. But when the most apt “design kitchen” was suggested, it was soon embraced as a distinctive way to identify something unique to Rice. Sometimes the best choice for a new name for an existing building with a new use is simply to modify the old name by which it had for so long been known. So Rice’s old Hicks Kitchen became the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.
Since my visit to Rice I have learned that the Missouri University of Science and Technology has acquired an old bakery building in Rolla for students to use for their design projects, but to the best of my knowledge they are not calling it their Design Bakery.
Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. His most recent book, The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems, is now available in paperback.
BY MIKE WILLIAMS
Oshman and his wife of 49 years, Barbara, donated the lead gift to Rice to establish the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), which was dedicated in December 2008.
His namesake building, which once housed Rice's central food-service operation, has become a point of pride for the George R. Brown School of Engineering. The OEDK gives engineering students a central facility to realize their required design projects, with easy access to a machine shop, a classroom, a wet lab, a welding shop and conference rooms.
Oshman told the gathering at the OEDK dedication that he and his wife were "looking at what we might be able to do (for Rice) when this idea came up. Barbara, not being an engineer, was not 1,000 percent sure we wanted to become part of something in the engineering department again, despite my love for the school.”
But the OEDK's mission to provide cross-discipline and cross-technology training not only for engineering students but also those in the humanities, social sciences, architecture and business won her over. “This will be a great base for that kind of education going forward,” he said.
Maria Oden, OEDK director and a professor in the practice of engineering education, said Oshman's vision is paying rich dividends. She said nine student teams from among 61 that completed projects at the kitchen this year have won recognition in national competitions.
"My sense was Ken Oshman initially appreciated, maybe more so than any of us here on campus, how this facility would change engineering education at Rice," Oden said. "He saw from the industry perspective what he wanted engineers to be able to do.
"I think a whole generation of engineering students owe a lot to Ken and his wife's willingness to step forward and support the OEDK," she said.
"From my perspective, the kitchen is his legacy at Rice," said Sidney Burrus, Rice's Maxfield Oshman Professor Emeritus and former dean of the Brown School of Engineering, whose connection to Oshman goes back to their days at Stanford. The OEDK, he said, "has not only changed Rice, it is a model that is changing higher education in the U.S. and around the world. It is remarkable."
"I'm delighted that Ken was able to see the OEDK become such a great success, a center of energy and hive of innovation for our undergraduate engineers," said Mark Embree, the John and Ann Doerr Professor and director of the Rice Center For Engineering Leadership. "This space has already transformed student life on campus, and the designs developed there have touched lives half a world away."
Oshman, a native of Rosenberg, Texas, was co-founder of the ROLM Corporation, a Silicon Valley telecommunications company acquired by IBM in 1984. He was a vice president at IBM until 1986, and chief executive officer of Echelon Corp., a networking company in San Jose, Calif., until 2009. He served as the company's executive chairman until his death.
After graduating summa cum laude from Rice, Oshman earned his master’s and doctorate degrees at Stanford University while working at Sylvania Corp. He was a member of President Ronald Reagan's economic policy planning committee and a committee to advise the president on high-temperature superconductivity. He received Rice's Distinguished Alumnus Award, was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and served on many corporate boards.
Oshman is survived by his wife; son and daughter-in-law Peter and Stephanie Oshman; son and daughter-in-law David and Joanna Oshman; four grandchildren; brother and sister-in-law, Rick and Tania Oshman; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A memorial service will be held Tuesday in Los Altos Hills, Calif.
BY JADE BOYD
Rice News staff
Rice University's low-cost "infantAIR" device -- a global health technology invented by Rice students to help newborns struggling with respiratory distress -- was one of 19 projects selected for seed-grant funding July 29 at the Saving Lives at Birth global health contest in Washington, D.C.
Rice and the 18 other award nominees will now enter into final negotiations before awards can be issued.
In Rice's project, a team of physicians and engineers from the United States and Malawi will refine Rice's bubble continuous positive airway pressure device -- or bCPAP -- and implement it throughout the African nation of Malawi. The device is designed to help infants breathe when they are struggling with acute respiratory infections, the leading cause of global child mortality.
"We believe that the bCPAP device has the potential to greatly reduce neonatal mortality related to respiratory distress in low-resource settings, and we are so pleased to have been nominated for funding to implement this life-saving technology in Malawi," said Rebecca Richards-Kortum, director of Rice 360° and the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering.
The bCPAP was invented and improved by undergraduates in Rice 360°'s Beyond Traditional Borders program. The students worked at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen under the mentorship of pediatricians from Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital and the University of Malawi's Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH).
"The bCPAP is a proven therapy to treat neonates in respiratory distress, but it is often too expensive for hospitals in the developing world," said Beyond Traditional Borders' Jocelyn Brown, who began developing the device in 2009 as part of her senior design course. "The device we developed has been shown to deliver the same therapeutic pressure as the bCPAP setup at Texas Children's Hospital, while costing almost 35 times less."
In the Saving Lives at Birth competition, Rice proposed a one-year program to refine and test the bCPAP device and to develop a plan to scale up distribution in rural hospitals throughout Malawi. Bioengineers from Rice 360° will collaborate with pediatricians at QECH and Texas Children's as well as with industrial design engineers from 3rd Stone Design.
Pediatricians from the University of Malawi-QECH will oversee the clinical trials of the device and offer design feedback. The team will also work with physicians at regional hospitals and clinics in Malawi to help facilitate countrywide scale-up.
A team from Baylor and Texas Children's will expand and refine clinical protocols and job aids for the bCPAP. It will also develop training materials for caregivers, help to assess data gathered in clinical trials and develop easy-to-follow guidelines to help community-health workers recognize infants who would benefit from the device.
The team from 3rd Stone Design will perform a needs assessment at QECH and surrounding clinics to develop a clinical evaluation unit of the bCPAP device. The team will also determine user expectations and needs and identify engineering, medical, market and regulatory requirements for the bCPAP device.
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