Campus & Community

Cutting-Edge Research on Display at 2012 Stevens Innovation Expo

“The future belongs to those who innovate,” said George Korfiatis, provost and university vice president, in his opening remarks at the 2012 Stevens Innovation Expo.

Those words perfectly set the stage for the annual showcase of the significant and extensive research and entrepreneurship accomplishments of Stevens students and faculty, held on April 25, 2012. With the event, Stevens’ legacy of innovation – a part of the University’s DNA since its founding years – grew even richer.

“Today we celebrate the spirit of inventiveness, creativity and entrepreneurship that makes Stevens unique,” said Nariman Farvardin, president of Stevens. “It is through the ingenuity, resolve and deep understanding of technology development and commercialization – as demonstrated today by our students and faculty – that we will solve the most significant problems of our time and determine the future of our great country.”

The day began with an academic colloquium featuring inspiring presentations by successful researchers and entrepreneurs.

Hazel Szeto, professor of Pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College, discussed her remarkable work in the area of drug discovery, which has the potential to lead to game-changing treatments for heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. She shared her achievements in the development of peptide drugs used in the prevention and treatment of various conditions such as diabetic complications, neurodegenerative disorders, hypertensive heart failure and muscle wasting. Szeto also urged young researchers and entrepreneurs to "go beyond the data and the automation" to look for "serendipity" in their scientific results and build partnerships to accomplish large projects.

Stevens professors Peter Tolias and Ronald Besser also provided overviews of the University’s healthcare and energy research at the student and faculty level. Tolias is director of the interdepartmental Bio-innovation Program, which is conducting exciting life sciences research. Besser chairs the Chemical Engineering program and is involved in numerous green energy initiatives. Both sectors are undergoing tremendous change, transformation and growth, both globally and within the University.

The keynote speaker was Stephanie Newby, founder and managing director of Golden Seeds Angel Investor Network, which is dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs and their investors. Citing research that indicates that diverse management teams outperform, Newby spoke about the critical role of women in entrepreneurship, a topic dear to the hearts of many as Stevens celebrates the 40th anniversary of the admission of female undergraduates. She also provided tips for entrepreneurs of both genders who are seeking capital.

Next up were the Elevator Pitch and Project Plan competitions. For the Elevator Pitch competition, students presented their business ideas to a panel of five judges who represented potential investors. The Project Plan competition invited students to persuade the judging panel – this time representing potential clients – to select their projects over the competition. The judges and the moderator were all established entrepreneurs and active investors from industry.

In the Elevator Pitch competition, the Spinomedics team beat out 10 other competitors pitching – among other products and services – a flexible intubation device, a stock market prediction service that utilizes social media, a blood vessel location device, a high-tech fitness tracker and a nail stylus for use on touch screen devices. Spinomedics team members Kerri Killen, Samantha Music and Justyna Zielinska designed a battery-powered mechanism that measures spinal range of motion in a less invasive, less expensive manner than a traditional x-ray. As the demonstrated during their pitch, the device takes less than two minutes to get a reading.

In the Project Plan competition, the Gennovation team of Lindsay Daly, Alina Duran, Larry Giannechini, Sarah Parker and Michael Walker defeated nine other competitors with its hybrid operating room and ceiling canopy. Other entries included a concrete canoe, an environmentally-friendly airport design, a centralized system for Stevens seniors to post and discuss design project ideas.

The early afternoon was dedicated to a poster session highlighting the work of faculty researchers. Research spanned virtually every discipline, ranging from sensor technologies for port security, to robotic manipulation and assembly technologies, to optimization models in systems engineering.

Finally began the hallmark event of the day – the annual Senior Project exposition, which displays the results of capstone Senior Design projects in poster or prototype format. All Stevens Engineering students complete a Senior Design project in their final year of study, applying knowledge gained in the classroom to a major design project that meets a practical industry need.

“The design work of our seniors is the fuel that powers Stevens’ innovation engine,” said Christos Christodoulatos, associate provost for academic entrepreneurship.

Among this year’s more than 90 projects was a mobility device for the visually impaired called MOVI designed by Nathanael Cox, Abhay Sampath and Katelyn Sapio.

“MOVI is basically a headset that detects eye-level objects within a 20 foot radius by using ultrasonic sensors and various algorithms to determine their direction and distance. It also signals the user about the presence of an object through a series of sounds,” said Cox, an Electrical Engineering major.

Environmental Engineering majors Maciej Skwara and Brad Iucaluno designed Grey Water Recycling System, which takes in wash water and cleans it to the point that it can be reused.

“We see this is a practical and cost-efficient system for the military, in work camps, or for disaster relief – anywhere with limited water supply,” said Skwara. “It costs about $5,500 for supplies and installation.”

Another project was Dynamic Speaker Calibration by Clifford Hults, Joseph Truncale, Patrick Fakhir, Leo Fernandez and John Kim. Using Microsoft Kinect technology, the product adjusts speakers to follow the movement of a person.

“This technology basically gives you the best surround sound experience possible wherever you are in a room,” said Hults, a Computer Engineering major.

Other projects included a technology which automates bartending, a wireless hot spot device, a next-generation walker, a knee implant extraction device, a surface water wetland drainage system, a used book website and a rip current tracker.

Read in detail about other projects from the 2012 Stevens Innovation Expo at or at the following links:

•    Stevens Professor Works with Senior Design Team to Develop Sustainable Water System in Ecuador
•    Senior Design Team Places 15th in Prototype, Battery Electric Category of Shell Eco-marathon
•    Stevens Seniors Develop SDR Amateur Radio Repeater
•    Senior Design Project Improves Water Treatment Technology
•    Stevens Students Compete in 5th International Roboboat Competition