2020 UIndy Engineering Business Pitch Competition goes virtual

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering (RBASOE) successfully held its 2020 Engineering Business Pitch Competition virtually on April 21, 2020. As part of the RBSAOE’s unique DesignSpine curriculum, students in the third year of the program work in interdisciplinary teams to design and pitch a product, process or service in collaboration with industry mentors.

This was the second year for the School to host the event, which was conducted via Zoom due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. Although it was an inconvenience, students took this opportunity to be innovative and entrepreneurial. Faculty responded by involving the student teams in the process of assessing each project’s progress and in determining what aspects of the project could be continued even though there will be no access to campus resources like labs and workshops. Based on the assessment and mutual agreement between the faculty and students, the projects were continued virtually.

There were over 60 participants who participated in the competition. Five multidisciplinary teams pitched their engineering projects and business models to eleven judges consisting of leaders from industry and UIndy.

“I enjoy working with the students and I am always impressed with their creativity and how polished their presentations are. I wish there was a program like the R.B. Annis School of Engineering when I was in engineering school,” said mentor Richard Calvert (Citizens Energy). The Indiana startup ecosystem was represented by judges from Elevate Ventures and Innopower.

The event showcased the strong collaboration between the RBASOE and other units in the University, including the Department of Art & Design.

Dr. David Olawale, assistant professor of engineering, said, “It has been great working with Prof. Rhonda Wolverton and her students from the Art & Design Department. The collaboration provided the engineering students the opportunity to work with students from a completely different discipline. They got to experience the value that other disciplines bring to the product development and commercialization process. They got to learn how to communicate effectively with other experts from a different discipline and they also developed an appreciation and respect for other disciplines. The contribution of the Art & Design teams in designing the logos, slide decks and websites brought the business aspects of the project to life for the technically-minded engineering students.”

Wolverton agreed, citing that “The engineering project has allowed my students to experience a portion of each of these steps.”

The top three winning teams pitched ideas for a food produce preservation system, a motorcycle head display system, and body cooling wear.

While the engineering student teams focused on customer discovery, design, prototyping, testing and business model development, they were ably supported by their colleagues from the Art & Design Department who worked on the branding and marketing aspects of the projects. This created a great experiential learning experience for all the students.

Alysa Epperson ’21 (industrial and systems engineering major, mathematics minor) discussed how “over the past nine months our team has been working on developing a personal cooling vest…We decided to focus on cooling athletes and outdoor workers. Students from the Department of Art & Design helped us create a name for our company, a logo, and other on-brand materials. The name we decided on was Arctic Lock. Arctic Lock was designed to be lightweight, fashionable, affordable, and to offer rapid and prolonged cooling.”

Marko Tasic ’21 (industrial and systems engineering major, mathematics minor) summed up his experience by crediting the competition with giving him the confidence to pursue his own ideas and identify and solve problems in the world. “My biggest takeaway from this project is that entrepreneurship is not some intimidating venture that you have to embark on alone. It’s a step-by-step process that you do with a team around you,” he said.

R.B. Annis School of Engineering donates PPE to Indianapolis healthcare workers

Healthcare workers at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis model face shields manufactured by James Emery, lab manager at the R.B. Annis School of Engineering.

Healthcare workers at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis model face shields manufactured by James Emery, laboratory manager at the R.B. Annis School of Engineering.

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering is putting expertise and resources towards the fight against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). James Emery, laboratory manager for mechanical systems, is printing face shields for St. Vincent Indianapolis emergency room healthcare workers.

“I asked some friends who are nurses if their emergency room would be in need. They are parents that I met through Indiana FIRST while mentoring a team,” Emery said. He has also been approached by a local fire department.

The design was provided by a 3D printing machine manufacturer that is producing the shields for local hospitals in Europe. Emery researched the need for face shields during the COVID-19 crisis and notes that the design has been vetted. He has registered with national initiatives to assist in the manufacturing of personal protective equipment for first responders. 

“During this pandemic, there are so many nurses and doctors who are working tirelessly to help the population,” Emery said. “I found that the 3D printing community was stepping up in huge ways to try and help.”

Emery had enough materials to manufacture about 50 face shields. He delivered them to St. Vincent in April.

“As we are left at home while the first responders, doctors and nurses are out every day trying to help the individuals that have been infected with this virus,” Emery said, “I wanted to do my part to help them.”

Emery is continuing to produce face shields and is planning to donate more as he is able to manufacture them.

Paul Talaga, assistant professor of engineering, donated 3D-printed "ear savers."

Paul Talaga, assistant professor of engineering, donated 3D-printed “ear savers.”

Paul Talaga, assistant professor of engineering, used a 3D printer to manufacture “ear savers” for healthcare workers on the frontline. The device attaches to the elastic straps of the mask to alleviate discomfort. To reduce the danger of contracting the disease, healthcare workers must wear a mask at all times when working with patients.

Talaga has delivered 100 ear savers to four Indianapolis-area hospitals.

A nurse at an Indianapolis-area hospital wears one of the "ear-savers" produced by Paul Talaga.

A nurse at an Indianapolis-area hospital wears one of the “ear-savers” produced by Paul Talaga.

 

Local students create energy plan for Indiana

What would a sustainable energy plan for Indiana look like?

An ambitious project involving a diverse group of University of Indianapolis and IUPUI students is actively working to answer that question. The students, led by former Indianapolis Mayor and Visiting Fellow Greg Ballard, held the first in a series of meetings to obtain public feedback on their proposed energy plan for the state.

Senior Carly Nicholson, left, speaks with Visiting Fellow Greg Ballard. (Photo by D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

Senior Carly Nicholson, left, speaks with Visiting Fellow Greg Ballard. (Photo by D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

During a recent community conversation on the UIndy campus, the students presented their ideas and took questions from concerned citizens, who encouraged the group to consider issues like consumer education, bike lanes or the unique challenges faced by cash-strapped non-profits wishing to pursue sustainable energy practices.

The project includes ten students from the University of Indianapolis and two from Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI).  The students began studying Indiana’s energy needs last year as part of a project supported by the Central Indiana Community Foundation and the Simon Family Foundation.

“We want to tell people what this generation thinks about energy in the state of Indiana. How do we want to position that going into the future?” Ballard said.
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Campus robotics competition highlights STEM education efforts across Indiana

VEX robotics teamWhile the rest of their competitors were frantically tweaking their machines to just the right specifications before matches began, the robotics team from Covenant Christian High School huddled away from the crowds to take their robot for a test drive.

“It’s nerve-wracking when the robot doesn’t exactly do what you want it to do in the tournament. But, that’s part of fun of this competition,” said team member Isaac Lapley, 16.

Covenant Christian of Indianapolis was one of more than 100 local teams competing in at the VEX Robotics Competition, held in January at the University of Indianapolis. Top finishers at the campus event advanced to the state competition held later this year. All participants are now eligible to be considered for a $10,000 scholarship to the University of Indianapolis.
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Local spider discovery provides leg up to new science

Oreonetides

The new species of Oreonetides.

Nearby Indiana forests could be home to a whole host of undiscovered life forms just like the new species of spider discovered recently by a University of Indianapolis biology professor.

“New (spider) species are being found all the time. I typically find one to two a year, but the message is that we really know nothing about the diversity of species living right here in Indiana,” said Dr. Marc Milne, the self-described “spider guy” on campus.

The tiny, female arachnid is tentatively known only by the genus name of Oreonetides. Since it was first collected in May 2015 in Johnson County, Ind., Milne and other spider experts across the country have been unable to find a comparable species, and the search now begins to find a male variety. Read more

Special screening of “The Burden” with filmmaker Roger Sorkin and former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard

burden_emailThursday, November 3, at 7 p.m.
UIndy Hall A, Schwitzer Student Center
Reception will immediately follow

Join us for our next University Series event featuring a special screening of “The Burden” followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Roger Sorkin and former Indianapolis Mayor and UIndy Visiting Fellow Greg Ballard.

“The Burden” is a 40-minute documentary that tells the story of fossil fuel dependence as our greatest long-term national security threat, and why the military is leading the transition to clean energy. The film also focuses on the amount of American military lives lost fighting to protect oil interests in the Middle East.

This free event is open to the public and L/P credit is available to UIndy students. Online registration is requested.

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In the news: Sociology, Business, PT

Miller

Miller

Dr. Amanda Miller of the Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice continues to draw national attention with her research on marriage, cohabitation and household dynamics. Most recently, she is coauthor of a study suggesting that couples who share household chores equitably are also busier in the bedroom. Read about it in the New York Post (“Wanna have more sex? Do the dishes”) and Glamour.

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Zimmer

Zimmer

Dr. Timothy Zimmer of the School of Business likes to apply his economics acumen to the world of sport. One of his number-crunching finds is that a Major League Baseball team that goes for an extended time without winning a World Series (a la the Chicago Cubs), and has a fan base built around that “lovable loser” image, can actually lose fans in the long run after a winning season. Read about it in The Atlantic.

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Combs-Miller

Combs-Miller

The world is still discovering the research performed by Dr. Stephanie Combs-Miller and her Physical Therapy students and colleagues to show the positive impact of Rock Steady Boxing therapy in improving life for clients with Parkinson’s disease.

Their work most recently grabbed the attention of U.S. News and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (for the second time this year). Also appearing in recent weeks were stories by Missouri’s Kansas City Star and Springfield News-Leader, each of which was picked up by the Associated Press and shared by news outlets nationwide.

Archives fellow honored for work as mayor

UIndy Visiting Fellow Greg Ballard finished his tenure as Indianapolis mayor in January, but he is still receiving kudos for his actions while in office.

Ballard

Ballard

This spring, the international Robotics Education & Competition Foundation inducted Ballard into its STEM Hall of Fame under the Heroes category, which honors contributions in guiding young people toward studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The foundation coordinates the annual VEX Robotics Competition, which is active in 40 countries and culminates in the three-day VEX Worlds gathering. This year’s finals in Louisville drew 1,000 teams from over 30 nations and included an awards ceremony honoring the former mayor, whose efforts in the field have included establishing and promoting the City of Indianapolis VEX Robotics Championship.

“I’ve seen so many students’ lives changed as a result of these competitions,” Ballard says. “It is humbling to have been a part of it all.”

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Student archaeology projects draw attention

Famous ‘grave in the road’ had seven occupants, researchers find

grave workAs noted in UIndy News last month, Dr. Christopher Schmidt of the Department of Anthropology has been working with students and colleagues on a job for Johnson County officials: In conjunction with a road improvement project, they were asked to exhume, examine and re-inter the remains of Nancy Kerlin Barnett, presumed occupant of the legendary 1831 “grave in the middle of the road” south of Franklin.

What they found, however, has caused quite a stir. The gravesite contained not one, but seven sets of human remains — three adults and four children — adding more intrigue to a story that has captivated local residents and travelers for decades.

To learn all the details and unanswered questions, check out this week’s coverage in the Indianapolis Star, WISH-TV, WTHRWXINWRTV, Indiana Public MediaUSA TodayArchaeology.org. The CBS Radio News network and scores of news outlets throughout the Midwest carried the story after it was picked up by the Associated Press.

Schmidt will be interviewed Saturday on Hoosier History Live! with host Nelson Price, which airs from noon to 1 p.m. on UIndy’s WICR-88.7 FM/HD. Read a preview here.

Carroll County project featured in WISH-TV’s Bicentennial series

Moore WISH webAs noted in UIndy News last year, Dr. Christopher Moore of the departments of Anthropology and Earth-Space Science has been directing students and educating the public through an extended exploration of a historical site in Carroll County, Ind. The Baum’s Landing site offers a unique window into 19th century life in rural Indiana, and the effort has been declared an official Bicentennial Legacy Project by the 2016 Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

It’s not surprising, then, that WISH-TV would feature Moore and his students in its series of Bicentennial Minute reports. The piece is actually about three minutes long, and you can watch it here.

Moore, himself a UIndy alumnus, also has been involved in the Barnett grave project, by the way.

Forensics team continues Texas migrant project

labbingUIndy Human Biology master’s degree candidates Amanda Khan (left) and Helen Brandt analyze skeletal remains in a laboratory at Texas State University.

Associate Professor Krista Latham and the graduate students of UIndy’s Archaeology & Forensics Team are back in Texas for the fourth consecutive summer, volunteering their time and expertise to help identify undocumented migrants who have died after crossing the border.

On previous visits, the crew spent most of their time in a small cemetery, exhuming the remains of men and women whose bodies were found and buried without identification. This year, the group is primarily working at Texas State University, analyzing skeletal remains for clues to their origin. They also will work with the South Texas Human Rights Center and other organizations to identify other cemeteries where migrants have been buried.

Along with Dr. Latham, a forensic anthropologist, this year’s contingent includes UIndy colleague Dr. Alyson O’Daniel, a cultural anthropologist; Human Biology master’s candidates Amanda KhanJustin Maiers and Ryan Strand, veterans of previous Texas trips; and fellow grad student Helen Brandt, a first-timer.

The group left Sunday and will return May 18. Read their blog posts and see their photos and video at beyondborders.uindy.edu.

Read previous stories about the Beyond Borders project here.

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