This E-Team developed a device that simplifies the process of implanting Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) devices in human hearts. CRT devices (e.g., pacemakers) are used to treat instances of congestive heart failure (CHF). Implanting them requires attaching electrical leads to the ventricular walls of the heart, which in turn cause the heart to contract at regular intervals. This E-Team's device allows surgeons to access the left ventricular wall (the harder of the two walls to reach) by passing that electrical lead through the right ventricle, rather than routing it separately into the left ventricle. This approach allows for faster procedures with fewer surgical obstacles, minimizing the chances for failure.
CHF is a major (and growing) health problem, especially in the US. While pacemakers currently improve the lives of many people with CHF, the failure rate for the implant procedure is about 8%. Furthermore, there are many patients who are too sick to undergo such major surgery. Because this device lessens the operating time and avoids the obstacles surrounding the left ventricle, it could presumably make an impact in both of these groups.
This E-Team developed the Soda Sentry, a system that indicates when syrup has run out at soda fountains. Using infrared technology, a red light indicates to the customer when a fountainhead is out of syrup; additionally, lights go off in the employee area of the restaurant to let servers know the box needs to be changed. The product intends to optimize customer service and restaurant efficiency.
The E-Team consisted of a junior in integrated business and engineering as well as graduate students in electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering, and computer science. Advisors to the team were a professor of management, a marketing expert, a manufacturing and operations expert, and an engineering design expert.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 2005 - $1,482
When teaching a blind child how to use a spoon, the common practice is hand-over-hand learning, which requires time and patience on the part of the instructor. This E-Team is developing a training spoon that indicates to the child when the spoon is being tipped, allowing the child to learn independent of an instructor and accelerate the learning process. The device consists of a handle, indicator shaft, and spoon tip. Feedback is provided by small bumps on the indicator shaft, which protrude through the spoon handle and press against the child's hand when the spoon is tipped too far in one direction.
University of Massachusetts, Lowell, 2005 - $20,000
This E-Team developed an infrared imaging system for medical diagnosis. The team envisions the imaging system as a low-cost alternative to X-rays, possibly helping make medical diagnostic equipment more readily available in developing countries.
This E-Team developed a novel, contactless, magnet-based buoy to capture the ocean's wave energy and convert it into electrical energy. By "contactless" the team means that previous buoy designs have used hydraulic or pneumatic approaches, which create physical contact between the piston and cylinder, leading to system damage during rough storms as well as decreased efficiency, while their design employs magnets for contactless mechanical energy transmission. The magnets are configured in a piston, producing radial magnetic flux that transmits a generator load to the cylinder; the motion of the piston is transformed to rotation using a ball screw to drive the permanent magnet rotary generator. Thick cables attached to the bottom of the buoy connect it to an electrical grid on the mainland.
The team created a proof-of-concept prototype that showed an overall system efficiency of 70-80%. The goal of this grant was not so much to commercialize a product immediately, but to further prototype and test their design to enable commercial-scale devices in the future.
This E-Team undertook two separate activities: prototyping its micro-fuel cell technology, and creating a long-term marketing plan. The technology is PM2, a novel planar, micro-fluidic, membraneless micro-fuel cell that relies on laminar flow of fuel and oxidant solutions. Initial lab tests demonstrated that the design has the potential to deliver superior power density to portable electronic devices when compared with competing membrane and membraneless fuel cell designs.
The team continued prototyping PM2 to go from a 1-mW lab device to a 10-watt commercial prototype with an appropriate price. Alongside prototype development the team identified manufacturing, distribution, sales, and venture capital partners, segmented markets, determined market entry point, and identified partners for commercialization. The primary target markets are the defense and industrial sectors, specifically in the areas of portable power, wireless scanning, and communication devices.
This E-Team developed a clay-based water purification system for household use in developing countries. The system consists of a ceramic filter element, made of kiln-fired clay treated with colloidal silver, set in a plastic receptacle tank with a plastic lid and spigot. These filters have been produced and promoted in Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia, but have not been widely adopted due to poor financial planning and failures in meeting the expected amount and quality of water produced. The team improved the filtration system and at the same time developed customized training that creates broader awareness, encouraging adoption on a much larger scale, and stimulating local production and support.
Water scarcity is the biggest challenge of the 21st century, and proper wastewater treatment is critical to public and environmental health because it protects and recycles the limited supply of fresh water. Throughout the world, billions of gallons of industrial and domestic sewage are treated in centralized wastewater facilities through the acceleration of natural biodegradation processes, relying on a balance of healthy microbes for optimal performance. This E-Team developed an innovative biotechnology system to monitor and diagnose common microbiological problems that interfere with the reclamation of wastewater in sewage treatment plants worldwide. Problems often result from undesired blooms of microbes, but many microbes do not yield to cultivation, the traditional method of identification. The team's DNA sequence-based technology allows microbes to be detected and identified without cultivation to determine relative quantities in a sample. Once problem microbes are identified, treatment plants can design and apply the appropriate remedy with quantitative information from the team's Biotechnology System.
This E-Team developed SecureGo-Cash, a USB flash drive equipped with encryption capability for secure online transactions. When connected to a USB port, SecureGo-Cash prompts the user for a password. Each SecureGo-Cash has a unique Machine ID, and once the user enters her password, she logs into any SecureGo-enabled website, uses the Machine ID as her identity, and completes a transaction. The website connects to the SecureGo server, verifies the authenticity of the request, and transfers the amount from the user's account to the merchant's account. Additionally, the user can set up a cash recovery account with SecureGo-Cash, and if the device is lost or stolen, can transfer the balance to this recovery account.
Bullex, launched at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received Advanced E-Team grants in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to develop the Intelligent Training System (ITS), an innovative fire extinguisher training device. The majority of today's live-fire extinguisher training is done by taking a bucket and filling it with kerosene or diesel, and water. After an instructor lights the fire, a trainee is given an extinguisher and told to put it out. This method is expensive, can be dangerous, and often requires a HAZMAT cleanup.
ITS makes fire extinguisher training more efficient by simulating the extinguishing of a real fire, removing costly extinguishant from the equation. First, flames are generated in a clean-burning, propane-fed pan equipped with digital sensors. If users aim properly and hit the sensors, they can quell the fire without the mess. The sensors then give out a reading on how well a trainee used the extinguisher. The device is cleaner, safer, and easier to use than the traditional training method.
2003 update: Bullex launched successfully in 2003, and now has 60 employees and estimated annual sales of $7.3 million. The company was featured in Fortune Small Business Magazine after making it to the final round of the magazine's national business plan competition, receiving honorable mention. Their customers include the US Navy, Northrop Grumman, Michelin, International Truck, and Trane.