Lessening the pressure drag on trailers can increase fuel efficiency in long haul semi-trucks. Clarkson University and Composite Factory, Inc., are jointly developing a drag reduction device that could cut fuel consumption by 5%, potentially saving US truckers about $2 billion per year.
Update: This project has spawned several graduate degrees, undergraduate research projects and received a grant from NYSERDA for over $300k. The team also made the news:
This course in technological entrepreneurship is part of a new program in technology entrepreneurship within the school of business. The course reaches over 200 freshmen and involves mentoring by senior students, seminars and visits to J&J plants. Business plans and presentations are the main deliverables. The course is well-supported by faculty and the administration, with plans proposed to fully fund it after its second year.
UAB's current senior design curriculum is based on mechanical engineering design teams solving industrial-based problems. The problems are formulated by industrial clients who must be satisfied with the final product offered by the design team. This NCIIA-funded program keeps the current client/team format of the design process while adding to selected teams a business component comprised of a marketing team member from the MBA program or Engineering Management program at the UAB School of Business and a patent attorney mentor from the local community.
Projects selected for E-Team design must develop a business plan, conduct market research, and perform a patent search. The design team incorporates the business plan and results from the market analysis and patent research into product design. The team submits the written reports on the business plan, market analysis, and patent research, demonstrates how these plans and studies were incorporated into the product design, and explains how the design was affected by these inputs. The team also builds a prototype of the product and provides test information demonstrating its effectiveness in meeting the design goals
This team is developing an ultrasonic scanning system that scans and creates an image of the exterior of human body parts in three dimensions. The initial uses for the device will be medical applications such as the development of orthodic devices. Using new ultrasonic transducer technology, the team is funded to assemble, develop, and test a scanning helmet or barrel that will provide a CAD compatible output of the exterior surface of the scanned person or object.
The team plans to patent and license the technology. The technology should be of comparable quality to laser-based scanners, easy-to-use, portable, and less expensive than existing products.
The faculty advisor has assembled a group of advisors from the medical industry, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and aeronautical engineering, as well as an expert in business and entrepreneurship. The students working on the project are recruited from a design course that he instructs.