The Stevens Institute of Technology campus was abuzz with activity April 27 as hundreds of visitors, including members of the Stevens community, local and national entrepreneurs, prospective students and invited guests, descended upon the Hoboken campus for a glimpse at the latest inventions and entrepreneurial activity of students and faculty. At the 9th annual Innovation Expo, a campus-wide celebration featured presentations of senior design projects, team competitions, guest speakers, a research poster session, and a reception to cap off the day-long event.
Spread across three university venues – Canavan Arena, Walker Gymnasium and the Griffith Building – displays of senior design projects, ranging from a heart monitoring system for motorists, a sail-assisted bulk carrier and a gastroscopic capsule to a 3D architectural tour of Hoboken, a board game centered on Chinese urban growth and a data-solutions website for a Fortune 50 healthcare company, kicked off what Stevens President Nariman Farvardin calls “one of the most exciting events” of the academic calendar. Each venue drew scores of visitors, including alumni and a team from nearby Liberty Science Center, who visited to view live demonstrations by students who happily answered questions about their respective design projects.
Leading researchers speak on computational modeling, internet history
At Stevens’ Babbio Center, Grace Peng, Ph.D., program director at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), gave a research talk titled “Convergence Science – The Future of Research” that emphasized the importance of integrating the life sciences with engineering and the computational and physical sciences in order to solve the larger, more complex challenges of our time. Peng, whose program areas at the NIBIB include mathematical modeling, simulation and analysis methods, believes computational modeling, widely used in various sectors, is severely underused in biomedical research.
Computational modeling, she noted, can be effectively used to improve medical procedures and devices, leading to a reduction in the number of deaths that occur each year at hospitals due to medical errors.
Later in the afternoon, at Stevens’ DeBaun Auditorium, Stevens alumnus Sergio Heker '84 M.S. '85 delivered a one-hour talk on “The History of the Internet” as the featured speaker of the Thomas H. Scholl Lecture by Visiting Entrepreneurs. Heker is CEO of GLESEC, a Princeton-based cybersecurity company he founded in 2003 with operations in the U.S. and Latin America.
Introduced by President Farvardin as an internet pioneer, Heker has been involved in internet security since 1985, when he created and operated JvNCnet, the largest and fastest internet network at the time. JvNCnet was the first backbone-based regional network in the U.S., as well as the first to offer T1 internet access and, for a time, the largest carrier of internet traffic in the world.
Heker expressed his pleasure to be back at his alma mater, where he was a member of Eta Kappa Nu and Stevens’ Gear and Triangle Society. It was at Stevens, he said, where he developed the ability to learn and embrace opportunity, an essential ingredient to his entrepreneurial success.
Elevator pitch, Business Services pitch competition winners selected
The culmination of the Expo was the always crowd-pleasing elevator pitch competitions, one for business services and another for business products.
Friend of the university Aaron Price performed moderating duties for the third consecutive year. The Hoboken resident is founder of a number of startups – deliverU, effordables, weCraft and livecube – as well as founder of the NJ Tech Meetup, New Jersey’s largest tech community, and Propeller, a technology and music event aimed at bringing together the innovation community of the Northeast.
Scored on two criteria — presentation and feasibility — each competition featured eight teams. The panel of judges for both competitions was comprised of entrepreneurs, CEOs and venture capitalists. The winning team in each competition won $5,000 plus a year of co-working at Mission 50 Workspaces in Hoboken. Second and third place finishers earned $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. Prizes for both competitions were made possible thanks to the generosity of the Ansary Foundation.
In the Business Services Pitch competition, the winner was Nuclear Solutions for its plan to improve the future of spent nuclear fuel. Team members Janice Frontera, Shawn Maguire and Brian Minevich used Indian Point Energy Center as a case study to design a more efficient, sustainable and safe method of extracting uranium from spent nuclear fuel through crystallization. The Campus RainWorks Challenge team placed second, providing a practical example of an urban campus green infrastructure plan. The master plan created by team members Adriana Herrera, Zachary McKeehan, Taylor Race and Sabrina Smith strives to be the first stormwater management plan for the Stevens campus, and was recently awarded second prize in the Master Plan Category of the Environmental Protection Agency's nationwide Campus RainWorks Challenge. Jeffrey Earl, Palash Parimal Mehta, Alexa Policari and Jacob Thigpen of NEBFlu took third-place honors for an eggless flu vaccine-manufacturing method aimed at the 40 million people worldwide who are allergic to eggs.
In the Business Product Pitch competition, team WHISPER (Timothy Michael Fair, Alexandra Haracz, Elizabeth Irene Knott, Joseph Laemmle, Dhruvil Parikh, Mohamed Saleh, Sonali Thaker and Abigail Wasmuth) captured first place for their pitch for a wireless bridge monitoring system. Meanwhile, Tyler Eckel, Nito Lugo, Tanbeer Omar Mahmood and Alan Steinberg of The Cyclers Hub placed second with a pitch for a virtual reality cardio system designed to increase user motivation to exercise harder and more consistently. Ahead of the Curve (Michael Pacelli, Gabriela Sanchez, Charles Jacob Shotmeyer and Jonathan Yip) was awarded third place for its adjustable modular spinal rod, which is designed to reduce the overall costs and procedure time of scoliosis surgery.
Innovation Expo 2016 concluded with a reception in the Babbio Center where attendees had an opportunity to engage with student innovators, faculty and members of the entrepreneurial community.
To become involved in supporting next year’s Stevens Innovation Expo, contact the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship.