This E-Team is concentrating on the problem of the perishability of food and pharmaceutical items. Currently there are two methods of ensuring food/pharmaceutical safety: human predication of expiration, and chemical tags that change color upon product expiration. The E-Team aims to combat the deficiencies of these methods by developing a Time-Temperature Integrator (TTI) tag which, in a 1x2 inch housing, incorporates a temperature measure, a microprocessor, and an RF transceiver. Instead of using the color-change method, these tags record the temperature and time at thirty-second intervals. A calculation of shelf-life is then made based upon a proprietary algorithm that takes into account the current time/temperature and the optimal shelf-life of perishables under those specific conditions. A report of time, temperature and freshness is then sent to a wireless device.
University of Massachusetts, Lowell, 2005 - $12,500
Almost one billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water, most in the developing world. To combat this massive problem, this E-Team created water purification technology in which contaminated water is put into a recycled plastic bottle coated with titanium dioxide and placed in the sun for several hours, killing not only bacteria but other harmful substances such as arsenic and herbicides. The team developed a low-cost manufacturing system for the bottles, field tested the bottles in the network of Peruvian villages they worked with for eight years prior, and researched proper approaches to commercialization of the technology. The team also pursued the possibility of adding a color-changing dye to the bottles to indicate when the destruction of harmful substances in the water has occurred and it is safe to drink.
This E-Team developed an improved walking device that incorporates removable wheels, shock absorbers on each of the four legs, height and width adjustment, a lightweight frame with a wider base at the rear, and detachable accessories such as a seat, basket, cupholder, and more. The team had the full support of Keen Mobility, an NCIIA alumnus and developer of mobility devices for the medical field, allowing the team access to Keen Mobility's resources, relationships with external manufacturing partners, external expert advice, and testing facilities. Moreover, this relationship led the team to adopt Keen Mobility's direct-to-customer distribution model, which should reduce promotional costs significantly.
As part of the Engineers for a Sustainable World program at PSU, this course involved students in creating a hybrid solar/wind power system in Ngegu village in the Division of Rangwe, Kenya, with particular emphasis on water pumps to provide clean water. Currently, residents have to travel a few kilometers to retrieve water that is often polluted, or, worse, has dried up, leading to waterborne disease and high mortality rates. The team also designed a sisal decorticator--a machine that more efficiently harvests the fibers of the sisal plant. Currently these fibers are harvested using a painstakingly slow process that requires entire families to be engaged in harvesting throughout the day.
This project was worked on by four institutions at once: a PSU team of engineering students designed a windmill in conjunction with an engineering team at the University of Nairobi, who initiated the project; a team of business students enrolled in the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) developed a business model for generating funds to support the project; students from all three institutions formed an entrepreneurship team that continued to engage in fundraising and developed a business model; and the Kochia Development Group, an organization of Kenyan businessmen and women who actively seek projects to improve rural Kenya, provided mentoring and feedback to ensure the project is socially and economically feasible.
This E-Team developed an inexpensive, collapsible electronic notebook that can be rolled out for viewing and rolled back into compact form to be carried around. The team's goal is to pair the technology with sub-hundred dollar computers currently under development and get them in the hands of African schoolchildren, 48% of which have no access to textbooks. The team's major innovation is in the area of flexible conductors for the collapsible display: their proprietary conductor technology can exceed strains of 20% without loss of electrical performance, compared to the current industry standard of 1-2%.
University of California, Berkeley, 2005 - $20,000
This E-Team developed a system of products to protect Central California farmworkers from chronic pesticide exposure, which can lead to a wide range of short-term and long-term health effects including cancer, birth defects, and diminished reproductive ability. The team developed two different technologies to combat the problem: a protective suit for the workers and pesticide sensors for their homes. The suit is made from breathable, repellent Tyvek, Teflon and activated charcoal; it consists of overalls with one shoulder strap, an apron over the other shoulder, a hood, a ventilation mask with a carbon filter, gloves, and shoe coverings. The sensors, which incorporate smart dust mote technology to form wireless sensor networks, are designed to detect and record levels of pesticides, providing both an instantaneous alert when pesticides are detected and a long-term record of pesticide exposure, to be used by government agencies like OSHA and EPA in developing case histories of pesticide problems. The team chose the brand name Seguro, which means "safety" in Spanish.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005 - $18,590
Micro-manufacturing (the production of components with feature sizes smaller than 1mm) is a large and rapidly growing manufacturing sector. Micro-manufacturing machines make parts for both high-volume (iPods, cell phones, etc.) and high-value (surgical devices, military components, etc.) products, but in both cases the machines currently on the market are slow, expensive, large, and difficult to use.
This E-Team, now incorporated as Microlution, has developed a new type of machine, called a Micro/meso-scale machine tool (mMT), that is smaller, less expensive, and more efficient than traditional micro-manufacturing machines. The company is on its feet and growing rapidly, and in 2007 began selling the Microlution 310-S.
While energy conservation is becoming increasingly important in today's world, there is no convenient, inexpensive, easy-to-use energy monitoring and control product for residential and small business markets. To fill the void, this E-Team developed i-conserve, an energy conservation solution for small businesses and homes that consists of a wireless sensor network of modules (outlets), a base station that acts as a hub for the information in the network, and software that modifies energy settings in order to maximize efficiency and also provides the user with recommendations on how to improve efficiency. The base station is a USB ZigBee dongle (an electronic device that must be attached to a computer in order for it to use protected software) that allows a computer to communicate with the ZigBee mesh network. ZigBee itself is a new advancement in wireless sensor network technology that represents a reduction in cost and power consumption.
The team received a small amount of funding as part of the 2002 "E-SHIP Venture Fund and Competitions" Course and Program grant to PSU. The team has already begun prototyping, attended a ZigBee conference to begin networking, and filed two provisional patents.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a dangerous swelling of the abdominal aorta, the vascular conduit that supplies oxygenated blood to the legs. Rupture of AAAs account for 15,000 deaths annually in the US. Open surgical repair of AAAs is currently the gold standard therapy, but comes with significant drawbacks: mid-procedure mortality rates range from 1.4-7.6%, and a number of patients are ineligible for the surgery because they cannot tolerate its invasiveness. As an alternative to open surgical repair, many new stent-grafts have been developed that slide into the aorta and essentially exclude the aneurysm from circulation. These devices are seen as a promising treatment that could reduce mortality rates, patient recovery time, and procedural costs, yet current stent-grafts are suboptimal: only about half of AAA patients are eligible for stent-graft treatment because of the varying anatomy of aneurysms, and the stent-grafts themselves suffer from long-term durability issues involving leaking and the migration of the devices from the site of the aneurysm. To address these issues this E-Team proposes to develop a stent-graft with an adhesive delivery platform that actively seals the stent-graft and fixes it securely in place in the aorta.
Update: the team, now incorporated as Endoluminal Sciences, has received $2 million in venture capital funding and is moving toward clinical trials.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a cardiac rhythm disorder that can lead to heart palpitations, chest pain, and clot formation that can lead to strokes. Medications used to control the symptoms of AF have had limited success and come with significant side effects. Recent research suggests that AF is caused by electrically abnormal cells in the right and left side pulmonary veins; with this in mind, percutaneous catheter techniques have been developed in which a catheter is used to ablate (destroy) the conducting tissue around the abnormal cells, electrically isolating them so that they cannot initiate AF. However, this procedure has had limited success due to the fact that the catheter cannot always access the right-sided pulmonary veins given their physical location in the body and the variability of pulmonary vein anatomy from person to person.
To address this issue, this E-Team developed a novel sheath system that can target a catheter directly toward the right-sided pulmonary veins, leading to more effective AF ablations. The sheath system utilizes an anchored trans-septal sheath and an inner, pre-shaped guiding sheath to direct the ablation catheter directly toward right-sided pulmonary veins. The team also designed several inner sheaths to optimize the targeting of the catheter depending on whether the right superior, right inferior, or both right-sided pulmonary veins together are being isolated.