May 1997

EE1185, Microprocessor Systems

University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

The Microprocessor Systems annual engineering course considers the interfacing between microprocessors and computers in general, which normally leads to communications with and control of many different types of physical devices and technologies. Students are required to consider all aspects of design, manufacture, and marketing. With NCIIA funding, two E-Teams have been generated in the class - Argus and EarTronX. Each E-Team was challenged to design a prototype device for locating lost hearing aids. Both prototype devices included a target in the hearing aid, and a locator implement. The E-Teams presented and discussed each prototype with five industry experts and entrepreneurs and submitted individual designs as a part of national and local competitions. The E-Teams plan to apply for Advanced E-Team funding.

Automotive Ozone Pollution Fighter

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach, 1997 - $18,000

The need to run an internal combustion engine more efficiently and with minimal environmental effects is the driving force for this E-Team's ozone generator development project. With the introduction of ozone into an engine's intake gases, combustion becomes leaner. However, because ozone cannot be stored in tanks, it has to be produced on-board the vehicle. The E-Team has developed an innovative ozone generator that contains no moving parts and is compact, fitting into existing vehicles with little or no modification to the vehicle.

The team is currently evaluating the effects of adding ozone to a 1996 Chrysler mini-van that has been converted to run on propane. This device mitigates the inherent problems of high initiation energy required by high octane alternative fuels and creates a cleaner burning engine.

The Automotive Ozone Pollution Fighter E-Team began as a student team working on a natural gas vehicle as an independent project with Professor Francisco Ruiz as the team's faculty advisor. As the project progressed, several of the members participated in Professor Ruiz's NCIIA Invention and Innovation class in the spring of 1996. The project was one of the first to emerge from the class, with an E-Team of seven engineering students. The E-Team received the 1996 B.F. Goodrich Inventor's Prize in the undergraduate category.

Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship

University of Nevada-Reno

This program is an interdisciplinary product and business development course conducted online. Students form E-Teams at the six South Dakota University (SDU) campuses around the state. At the beginning of the course, ten teams form, and include at least two technology-based members and two business members. Most teams have a team leader who is a student funded by the South Dakota National Science Foundation EPSCoR program. The E-Team works with a local mentor from a technology business to identify the product, conduct research, and create a development plan.

The course is delivered to students at SDU campuses using the internet in conjunction with two-way video and audio technology. Successful technology entrepreneurs present to the teams about product development and business issues. Topics and activities in the program include legal issues, sources of capital, budgeting, brainstorming, and successful collaboration. The objective of the course is for E-Teams to continue to work with businesses and organizations to make the projects a reality. Some E-Teams will continue work to compete for financial awards and support

Commercialization of the Cooper Cooler

Cooper Union, 1998 - $16,000

This E-Team developed the Cooper Cooler, a shoebox-size device capable of chilling a bottled or canned beverage from room temperature to refrigerator temperature in less than a minute. The device provides rapid, natural cooling of the internal contents using only ice water and a spinning device. The process is perfectly safe for carbonated beverages like beer and soda, which are not agitated and do not explode upon opening.

The idea for the Cooper Cooler was born on a summer day in 1992. Faced with the age-old college dilemma of running out of cold beverages at a party he was hosting, Cooper Union engineering student Greg Loibl was inspired to use his engineering skills to solve the "academic" problem. Loibl worked on the idea as part of his chemical engineering master's thesis, and, sensing commercial promise, co-founded a parent company, Revolutionary Cooling Systems, Inc. The Cooper Cooler experienced strong commercial success and is now sold around the world through major retailers like Amazon.com and BestBuy.com.

Soil Aeration: Use of Windmills to Regenerate Anaerobic Soils by Active Aeration

Carthage College

In areas where organic waste products have accumulated in excess, the oxygen in the soil is often depleted. When this occurs the soil becomes anaerobic and waste material degrades very slowly, and can prove to be toxic. This E-Team has created and refined a new windmill design intended to aerate anaerobic soils, thereby restoring artificially anoxic environments. Applications for soil re-aeration with the compact, inexpensive windmill are rejuvenating coastal dredging lands, constructed wetlands, and landfills. The market envisioned for this aeration system includes private property and government restoration projects.

During the grant period, the team is completing a patent application, and field-testing prototypes with several potential customers at sites around the country. The Soil Aeration E-Team originated in Professor Michael Gorman's Invention and Design course at the University of Virginia.

Senior Project Design

For the past twenty-five years, Drexel's College of Engineering has required its students to take a Senior Project Design course, taught by a team of faculty from each engineering department save chemical engineering. Within the course, students work in teams, developing solutions to problems of practical and societal importance, while at the same time learning about intellectual property, ethics, professionalism, and design. What was missing from Drexel's Senior Project Design course, in the opinion of the professors, was an entrepreneurial component. With NCIIA funding, the engineering faculty team teaching the course were able to modify the class curriculum to include entrepreneurship by exposing students to entrepreneurial success stories from other engineers, and targeting E-Team projects with commercial potential for further project development.

Project on the History of Black Writing

University of Virginia-Main Campus

The Project on the History of Black Writing E-Team is developing a omprehensive bibliographic database of African-American novels in an interactive learning environment on CD-ROM and, by license, on the internet. A prototype CD-ROM is under development that includes author biographies, full texts of novels, photographs, pointers to critical sources and advanced search tools. Much of the literature on the CD-ROM is now out-of-print, making this a valuable resource. The team intends to develop a range of indexed bibliographic offerings in an electronic format for distribution to scholars and libraries worldwide. Initial market surveys indicated substantial interest in the product among academic and municipal libraries.

Students and faculty from Northeastern University, the University of Virginia, and James Madison University collaborate on different aspects of the project, calling on the strengths of each institution, in the first virtual E-Team. The content is provided by NEU, the programming by UVA and JMU.

This E-Team joined the Project on the History of Black Writing eleven years after it was founded by the Cooperative Research Network in Black Studies. Since 1984 the Cooperative has compiled an extensive bibliography of writing by African-Americans in the last century and a half, including over 2,000 records. The work of the E-Team makes this previously inaccessible bibliographic resource available to a wider audience.

Ergonomic Design for Special Populations

This grant helped introduce E-Teams into a design course focused on developing new technologies for people with disabilities. Teams of students worked with clients to create new assistive technologies to suit their client's needs. A seminar and practicum approach emphasizing teamwork made E-Teams central to the course pedagogy. Students were encouraged to pursue innovative solutions to design challenges

Invention: Creative and Legal Perspectives

Invention: Creative and Legal Perspectives is the first course on invention offered at Ramapo College. The course integrates students from a variety of disciplines, including science, business, and the arts. With a NCIIA grant, Professors Anderson and Sherman revised the curriculum to extend over two semesters. In the first semester, the professors divide students into teams of four and challenge each group to identify a problem in daily life and solve it with an inventive solution. Students begin this process by listing daily problems and annoyances they would like to eliminate. After this initial exercise, students then form new teams and work together on invention ideas culled from students and faculty. Each team applies its newly gained knowledge in the course to its own invention, constructively reducing the invention to practice. The goal of the course is to motivate students to invent and to supply them with the minimum legal and business know-how they need to produce, market, and protect an invention.

Surgical Dustbuster

University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

Many surgical procedures require the removal of fluid from the surgical site using a vacuum system. The typical source of suction in the surgical field is a large tube connected to a wall vacuum at one end of the operating room. Because the suction system's tubes run across the floor of the operating room and need to be maneuvered like a garden hose, the system is ungainly and awkward. To address these problems, the Surgical Dustbuster E-Team is developing a prototype portable, freestanding unit for removing fluid where wall suction is unavailable, or large capacities for fluid collection are not required. This device incorporates a surgical vacuum with greater maneuverability and lower cost, making it suitable for use in outpatient settings as well as traditional operating rooms.