Maestro Music Box

University of Georgia, 2004 - $16,950

This E-Team developed an advanced digital audio player, the Maestro Music Box. Music is entered into the box in either MP3 format or CDs and can store up to 12,000 songs. The box interacts with almost all types of portable audio devices: you can download music from your Apple i-Pod and vice-versa; you can create CDs for your car or walkman; you can control the box from anywhere in the world through any internet compatible device (PC, cell phone, PDA).

Businesses that regularly play music (bars, restaurants, retail chains) currently use a variety of devices, from playing single CDs to laptops with media players to subscribing to programming services that broadcast music to their locations. The Maestro Music Box could help these businesses catalogue and manage their music, allowing them to quickly and easily synchronize music across multiple locations.

The E-Team consisted of two MBA students and one undergraduate industrial and electrical engineering major. Advisors to the project were a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, a software development specialist, an engineering consultant and the director of a business strategy firm.

Update: Since receiving funding the team has switched gears toward a software approach and are now in beta-testing. Visit getmaestro.com for more.

ARACHNOVATION Presents: The Spider Easel!

Marshall University, 2004 - $17,075

This E-Team developed an adjustable, lightweight easel called the Spider Easel. The team used user surveys and industry experience to come up with an all-encompassing design that is adjustable, versatile, sturdy, portable, and inexpensive. The Spider Easel consists of four arms and four legs constructed from aluminum tubing. The length of the individual arms and legs can be changed using adjustable compression fittings (much like a photographer's tripod). Artwork is held by gripping hardware not seen in other easels.

Fire Extinguisher Training Device (Bullex)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2004 - $14,600

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.

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.

PICKLE Technology

Purdue University, 2004 - $17,700

This E-Team developed novel technology to generate modified root crops that produce significant quantities of vegetable oil. A cloned mutant gene named PICKLE (PKL) produces plants that accumulate large amounts of oil in their roots. The team believes radishes are promising candidates for hosting the gene because of their bigger roots, capable of storing large amounts of oil. They tested a variety of crops and established connections with the biofuels market.

Successful development of this technology would significantly expand the amount of crops that can produce commercially extractable vegetable oil. An increase in vegetable oil will be beneficial to several markets because it is a key ingredient in numerous products such as food for human consumption, biofuels, animal feed, plastics, and lubricants. The team has chosen to focus on vegetable oil to generate biofuels.

The licensing of genetically modified crops has blossomed into a multibillion dollar industry: seven million farmers in eighteen countries planted genetically modified crops in 2004.

Feasibility Study to Analyze the Economic Value Proposition and Related Marketing Strategy for a Modular, Pressurized Anaerobic Digestion Reactor

Cornell University, 2004 - $18,000

Dairy farmers, animal processing facilities, and wastewater treatment plants use biogas generated from the anaerobic digestion of organic matter to stabilize their waste streams, facilitating processing for disposal or its conversion into usable by-products. NCIIA funding supported this E-Team in completing a technical feasibility study for a modular reactor that pressurizes and purifies biogas produced from anaerobic digestion of biomass using a closed-loop system. It was the first step toward commercialization of biogas-producing technology for use by commercial, industrial, and consumer clients who could benefit from a reliable source of clean, renewable energy.

The US water supply and wastewater treatment is a $110 billion industry, of which $32.1 billion (30%) was spent in 2002 on capital improvements at municipal wastewater treatment facilities. In the next six years, municipalities are expected to spend an additional $100 billion to meet state and federal environmental standards. The team's goal was to determine a practical system design and identify appropriate markets for commercialization, developing a thorough understanding of the economic value proposition for this technology.

Development and Commercialization of MicroStereolithography (MSLA) Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology, 2004 - $17,000

MicroStereolithography (MSLA) is a novel layer-based microfabrication technology in which three-dimensional physical parts can be selectively created directly from a computer model using photopolymer resin. The Georgia Tech Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute (RPMI) recently developed an advanced MSLA machine that uses an innovative method of delivering ultraviolet light onto the desired build surface using a digital micro-mirror array device. Currently the machine is operated manually, but its speed and resolution could be improved by automation. The MSLA E-Team automated this machine and developed a business plan for a MSLA "service bureau" venture to commercialize the technology.

The MSLA E-Team targeted the growing six billion Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) industry, where two-dimensional, labor-intensive, and iterative manufacturing techniques are typical.

TekAlert Wireless Firefighter Tether (TABS System)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2004 - $14,500

When firefighters enter a burning building, they must keep in physical contact with each other to stay together, which limits their mobility and, when contact is broken, results in injuries and fatalities. The TekAlert E-Team developed the Team Accountability Buddy System (TABS), which uses proximity-sensing wireless technology to allow firefighters to free their hands and conduct more efficient searches while maintaining team integrity. TABS allows firefighters to work a safe distance apart, determined by visibility. When a member of the group is outside the distance limit for thirty seconds, the audible and visual beacon system activates, guiding the group back to the missing firefighter. Each unit is interoperable and compatible with all other units.

A BST (barium strontium titanate) Based Narrow Band Tunable Antenna For Improving Wireless Communication

North Carolina State University, 2004 - $18,000

Improving call quality and network coverage of cellular phone systems in an economically viable way is the one of the major concerns of service providers today. The quality of current wireless communication systems could be significantly improved by the use of a narrow band tunable antenna in cell phone handsets to increase network coverage, reduce the cost of materials used for manufacturing cell phones, and improve battery life. The Barium Strontium Titanate (BST) Antenna E-Team developed a low-cost method of fabricating a voltage tunable BST-based antenna.

Over the past three years, the Materials Science and Engineering Department at North Carolina State University has developed a thin film voltage controlled capacitor (varactor) using BST. The BST Antenna E-Team adapted the BST thin film technology to produce high quality integral varactors, which can be used to manufacture narrow band tunable antennas.

The BST-based antenna will help service providers increase their revenues and enable better wireless service for end-users, allowing them to differentiate their products in a highly competitive market.

Expandable Wheelchair

Portland State University, 2004 - $10,000

Today's standard, non-custom-built wheelchairs lack the ability to adapt to the user, leading to discomfort and health problems when used in long-term care situations in nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities. With no ability to adjust, larger residents are crammed into smaller chairs, and, with no headrest on the chair back, people without muscle strength in their neck are left with their heads falling to one side. Bigger wheelchairs with headrests exist, but cost 300% more than standard wheelchairs--a prohibitive cost for most facilities. In response to this problem, this E-Team developed a wheelchair that can expand from the usual 18" wide and 16" deep seating surface to 22" wide and 18" deep, and comes with an adjustable headrest. The goal of the team was to develop a cost-efficient, adjustable manual wheelchair that addresses the common problems of people who use standard, generic wheelchairs in long-term situations.

The E-Team consisted of seven mechanical engineering majors, one with business administration experience and one with patent experience. Advisors included a professor of mechanical engineering and design as well as three members of Keen Mobility, a former NCIIA E-Team that has gone on to form a successful company based on innovative assistive technology.

Interactive Guest Paging System

Florida Institute of Technology, 2004 - $11,500

This E-Team developed the Interactive Guest Paging System (IGPS), a new restaurant pager that allows the customer to play games, view the menu, and check on the estimated waiting time while waiting to be seated. The system consists of handheld pagers with video screens and buttons wirelessly connected to a base station equipped with a touch screen, mouse, keyboard, pager charging bay, software to update the menu, and a wireless transceiver.

The team, which consisted of five undergraduate electrical engineering majors and one business administration undergraduate, planned to target casual dining chains such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, etc.

Wireless Crop Protection

University of California, Berkeley, 2004 - $15,900

This E-Team developed a wireless frost protection system for California vineyards. When the temperature in vineyards reaches frost levels (38-40 degrees), the system automatically turns on frost-prevention equipment and alerts the field manager of any trouble. The system consists of temperature-monitoring Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) deployed in the field, a computer interface showing the field manager a map of the vineyard and the temperature at each WSN, and ultra-bright LEDs in the field acting as beacons that communicate system operation and temperature zones, allowing a field manager to drive around and gauge vineyard condition from afar.

The current method of protecting crops from frost is simple and effective, but antiquated: when temperature dips, an alarm wakes the field manager, who drives around the vineyard checking thermometers and manually activating wind generators, which pull in warm air from higher elevations. Field managers usually do not go back to sleep to ensure no problems arise with the generators, leading to extreme sleep deficiency during frost spells. The E-Team's system automatically turns on the generators and allows the field manager to check on their operation remotely.

The E-Team consisted of two mechanical engineering PhD students, a mechanical engineering graduate student, an MBA candidate, and an industrial design student. Advisors to the team included the director of the Management of Technology program at UC Berkeley, a winegrowing manager for Gallo Vineyards, a viticulturalist, and a product design and strategy consultant.

Development and Commercialization of Novel Linear Displacement Sensor (Sentrinsic)

Georgia Institute of Technology, 2004 - $14,800

This E-Team developed a new sensor technology, the Non-contacting Resistance Displacement Transducer (NRDT). Used primarily in the metalworking, military/aerospace, and automotive markets, displacement sensors allow accurate control of everything from robotic arms to manufacturing assembly lines. The dominant sensor on the market today is the Linear Variable Displacement Transducer (LVDT), which, while precise and robust, is expensive due to its complex structure. While researching an unrelated problem, this E-Team came up with the NRDT, a device that offers far better performance than LVDTs at a fraction of the cost. NRDT's advantage lies in its simple design, allowing the device to get less expensive as it gets smaller, while still delivering optimal performance. LVDTs, on the other hand, become more expensive as they get smaller.

Update: After winning first place in the "Most Fundable" category of the 2005 Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition, the NRDT team took its product to market. They have formed a company, Sentrinsic (intrinsic sensing), have two patents pending, have received over $150k in funding, and made their first sale in April 2006.


Pennsylvania State University, 2004 - $6,000

This E-Team developed the Shelton Wing in Ground Effect (SWIG) vehicle, a type of airplane/boat that skims the surface of water. Flying near the ground reduces drag and increases lift, allowing Wing In Ground (WIG) vehicles to move at high speeds while consuming little fuel. However, traditional WIG vehicles have significant stability and control problems, causing frequent wrecks and preventing them from achieving commercial success. Computerized flight controls have solved the stability problems of large WIG vehicles, but are too costly to be practical for small WIG vehicles. Three-axis airplane-like controls solve the stability problem as well, but require special pilot training, creating a barrier to wide commercialization. To solve these problems, this E-Team innovated the WIG, adding forward wheels to the wings (skis for water operation) that stay in light contact with the surface. The wheels balance the pitching of the vehicle, creating a reliably safe, fast, and fuel-efficient transport.

The E-Team consisted of two senior finance majors, a senior astrophysics major, a senior advertising/public relations major, and a senior aerospace engineering student with pilot experience. Advisors to the team included three professors of aerospace engineering, a patent attorney, and a financial consultant.

The Wi-Fi Enabled Portable Internet Radio

Case Western Reserve University, 2004 - $18,500

This E-Team developed a Wi-fi-enabled portable internet radio. The device is a standard MP3 player with the added ability to access internet radio through existing Wi-fi networks. The operating system for the device has a plug-in that is essentially a streamlined web browser with access to one internet site, created by the team, that provides links to all available internet radio stations (estimated at 10,000 in 2002).

There are no portable internet radio devices on the market. Satellite radio is the only similar service; satellite radio, however, offers 122-125 channels depending on the provider, and has content very similar to traditional radio. On the other hand, thousands of internet radio stations are in existence, offering a much more diverse selection of music.

The Helping Hand

Rowan University, 2004 - $14,395

This E-Team developed The Helping Hand, a holding device for writing instruments designed for individuals with limited hand function. The device consists of an ergonomically designed, ambidextrous top shape that lets the hand rest in its natural position, a clasp for the writing instrument, and a base plate with roller bearings. The device naturally sits in the "up" position, and, through the use of a light spring, is pushed down by the weight of the person's hand when writing. The person uses forearm and shoulder movements to write, and when ready to move to another spot on the paper, simply lifts up the arm and rolls the device across the paper.

Converting Coconuts into Value-Added Products in Developing Countries

Baylor University, 2004 - $17,500

This E-Team is working toward establishing profitable, sustainable, coconut-based business ventures owned and operated by poor people living within ten degrees latitude of the equator, where coconut trees thrive. The team is researching the marketability and effectiveness of four coconut-based products: bio-diesel (from coconut oil), pig and chicken feed (from the white "meat"), particle board (from coconut shells), and anti-erosion matting (from the fuzzy fibers on the coconut shell). The team has already made bio-diesel for rural electrification using diesel generators, and demonstrated that pigs and chickens will eat and prosper on coconut meat. With NCIIA funding the team is developing simple, affordable technologies to separate the coconut's meat, shell, and fuzz and convert them into feed, particle board, and matting.

The E-Team consists of two undergraduates in engineering, one graduate in engineering, and two MBAs. The distinguished professor of engineering at Baylor, as well as the head of the department of mechanical engineering at Papua New Guinea Technical University, are team leaders. Advisors to the team include two professors of management and entrepreneurship at Baylor.


Early Detection of Acute Renal Failure

Johns Hopkins University, 2004 - $12,000

This E-Team developed a new device designed for the early detection of acute renal failure (ARF). The device uses laser technology and Raman spectroscopy to provide data on metabolite excretion rates in near real-time (high levels of metabolite excretion are indicative of ARF). The device enables the detection of ARF in hospitalized patients up to 48 hours earlier than current detection methods. The detection of other biomarkers using this device is also possible, making the device useful in aiding with a number of clinical diagnoses.

ARF is seen in 5% of all hospitalized patients, and 4-15% of all patients who undergo cardiovascular surgery. It accounts for 30,000 deaths per year. Current detection methods are not effective in providing early detection of the disease, which is essential to effective treatment. By providing early detection capabilities, this device can give healthcare providers a jump start on effectively treating ARF.

EEG Keyboard

Johns Hopkins University, 2004 - $14,400

This E-Team developed the EEG Keyboard, a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) typewriter system capable of translating electroencephalogram signals generated from electrical activity in the brain into characters on a screen. Electrodes are attached to the user's scalp, and he or she chooses characters either by focusing on a certain row or column in a flashing six-by-six matrix or by staring at a region of the screen flashing at a certain known frequency. Initially the product was targeted at the Locked-In Syndrome (LIS) community--individuals with paralysis of all voluntary muscles in the body, leaving them virtually unable to communicate.

The E-Team consisted of two professors of biomedical engineering (one of which won the 2003 BCI competition), eight biomedical engineering undergraduates, and three faculty advisors: one from neurology, one from biomedical engineering, and one from business.

A Novel Device to Perform Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy for the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure

Stanford University, 2004 - $18,369

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.

Soda Sentry

Lehigh University, 2004 - $9,241

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.

Digital Receipt Team

Stanford University, 2004 - $11,000

This E-Team developed a digital receipt system for retail and online stores. The system consists of a credit card-sized smart card with an embedded 1 Mb memory to store receipt data, a card reader/writer for stores, and a card reader/writer for the consumer’s personal computer that allows her to upload receipts from the card, organize them by category, and process them using spreadsheets. For an example of how the system works, take a typical return: the consumer hands the smart card to the cashier, who places it in the reader, finds the correct receipt, and matches it with the store’s receipt. With this device the team is looking to solve hassles with paper receipts, make check-out faster, save businesses money, and give the consumer an easy way to manage purchases.

The E-Team consisted of two electrical engineering undergraduate students and one biomechanical engineering undergraduate. David Kelley, founder and CEO of IDEO and currently a Stanford professor, advised the team.

Chest Protector

University of Miami, 2004 - $11,095

This E-Team developed an enhanced chest protector aimed at little league baseball players. More than any other sport, baseball players are susceptible to sudden cardiac death (SCD) as a result of a baseball hitting the child’s chest, particularly the silhouette of the heart located in the upper-left quadrant. The team built a chest protector that disperses the force of a direct hit over the chest, mostly through extra padding.

Three are three giants in the baseball equipment market: Rawlings, Mizuno, and Wilson. Each offers different chest protectors using different materials, but none offer a protector explicitly aimed at preventing SCD. Their protectors rely on impact absorption, whereas the E-Team’s protector focuses on impact redistribution, with extra layering around the heart.

The E-Team consisted of five biomedical engineering undergraduates, a professor of biomedical engineering, a professor of architecture and design, a local entrepreneur, and a cardiologist (who initially brought the project to the team’s attention).

An Innovation Curriculum: Introduction to Innovation and Innovation Teams

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Major changes are underway at UCCS, which will culminate in the development of a new series of degrees: a Bachelors of Innovation (BI) and a Masters of Innovation (MI). These degrees encompass traditional disciplines, such as computer science and business, but also provide students with an extensive “innovation core” of courses intended to make them familiar with the process of innovation. NCIIA funds provide support for the development and implementation of two elements of these majors: a freshman-level “Introduction to Innovation” course and the central course of the innovation core, the six-term “Innovation Team” course. The first introduces students to innovation processes, problem-solving, teamwork strategies, etc.; the second involves them in a hands-on project in a multidisciplinary team comprised of eight to twenty students, ranging from sophomores to graduate students.

New Elements for International Idea to Product (I2P) Program

Illinois Institute of Technology

The University of Texas at Austin received NCIIA funds in 2003 to further develop their pre-existing Idea to Product Technology Commercialization Program (I2P™). NCIIA funding provided seed money to E-Teams generated by the I2P Competition process to help improve the quality of their products and prototypes and increase the potential for taking their ideas to market; helped faculty initiate an international intercollegiate component of I2P Program; and helped faculty develop a new, innovative Austin Technology Incubator Affiliate (ATI) initiative.

In 2005 NCIIA funded the I2P Program again, this time with money going toward strengthening and institutionalizing the international competition component of the I2P™ program and thus significantly expanding the potential number of E-Teams generated.

The International I2P™ competition is modeled after both the MOOT CORP® competition and the UT Austin I2P™ regional competition. It's designed to be a pre-launch, pre-business plan competition that assesses the market opportunity, technological feasibility, and intellectual property position of innovations from teams representing the leading research universities around the world. The competition has grown from six teams in its inaugural year to thirteen teams this year and will be expanded next year to at least twenty teams. To date, the UT Austin I2P competition, which also focuses on the creation of entrepreneurial ventures grounded in science and technology, has attracted approximately 200 teams made up of a mix of ethnically and gender diverse undergraduate and graduate students from a broad cross-section of UT’s colleges and departments

Multidisciplinary Entrepreneurship Thematic Learning Community (E'ship TLC) - Creating Opportunities for Entrepreneurship Education from Top to Bottom

Babson College

The University of Kansas School of Engineering, in partnership with the Office of Technology Transfer, is implementing a university-wide program in entrepreneurship: the Multidisciplinary Entrepreneurship Thematic Learning Community (E’ship TLC), creating a culture of entrepreneurial thinking across the campus. The E’ship TLC will be open to participation from faculty and students (graduate and undergraduates) across all disciplines. A subset of the students will also be enrolled in entrepreneurship courses that integrate business into subject-specific courses. A part-time administrator will manage the courses and be responsible for publicity across the campus community. Students in new upper level multidisciplinary courses areas will form cross-functional entrepreneurship teams to explore faculty inventions. The E-Teams will evaluate the technology from a science, engineering, legal, and business perspective, creating a strong foundation for commercialization. In addition, faculty inventors will be involved in the entrepreneurial process. Underclassmen in the TLC will interact with students in the advanced courses and learn from their volunteer experiences. The program will initially focus on bioengineering-related disciplines.

Service through Design and Entrepreneurship Certificate Program

Rowan University

Pennsylvania State University’s Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), a student-led organization, was created in 2001 with the goal of providing undergraduate students with design and research opportunities that directly impact the lives of people in developing communities through active collaboration with university partners and host nations. Faculty in the Department of Engineering Design at Penn State are now creating a Service through Design and Entrepreneurship certificate to be offered through the College of Engineering in conjunction with the Entrepreneurship Minor.

Students receive the certificate after successful completion of a three-course series: Entrepreneurship Business Basics, which teaches intellectual property, finance, and marketing; Entrepreneurship and New Product Development, which examines the concept of new product launch within a mainstream company as student teams design, prototype a new product family, and then present the product concept to venture seed fund representatives from companies like General Electric; and Engineering Cultures, Appropriate Technology and Product Design in Developing Communities, which discusses appropriate technology and initiate collaborative team development between Penn State students and host university students working on preliminary problem recognition and design study.

Each year, two to four interdisciplinary E-Teams of four to six members are formed to address an infrastructure or product design problem in a developing community, specifically focused on addressing the needs of individuals living on less than $2 a day. Faculty, practicing engineers, NGO representatives, and community development practitioners work with teams as mentors.

Design for Sustainability: Courses of Study for Electrical Engineers

Stanford University

Waste produced by the disposal of outdated computer systems presents a serious environmental problem. A team of business, engineering, and liberal arts faculty at Auburn University is developing balanced design curricula for junior and senior electrical engineering students that focus on sustainability design for computer equipment through teaching modules incorporated into existing courses and the development of Recycling the Toxic Computer, an elective senior design course. Auburn will also host a nationwide workshop on sustainable engineering curriculum development to disseminate the results of the program at the end of the three-year grant period.

Through modules inserted into laboratory courses, junior-year students learn the social, economic, and environmental impacts of computer system product design and manufacture. Senior-year students have the ability to incorporate sustainability constraints into the design of a computer system product, and seniors taking the elective design course demonstrate the design of a computer system product that meets sustainability requirements and generate a business plan for the product with the goal of bringing it to market.


University of Southern California, 2004 - $19,939

Today, computer users must work with a traditional 2D mouse or trackball to manipulate 3D images, a counterintuitive method that leads to inefficiency and frustration. To solve the problem, the ZDimension E-Team developed a mouse-like peripheral, the ZMouse, which works with 3D autostereoscopic (AS) displays and software already on the market to allow the user to interact comfortably with floating 3D images in mid-air. The images float in front of or behind a special monitor that looks like a standard LC Display.


Tulane University, 2004 - $12,680

With the help of a 2004 Advanced E-Team grant, this Tulane University E-Team created Deflexion, an electronic board game that combines the strategic appeal of chess with modern technology. Players take turns moving Egyptian-themed, mirrored pieces around the playing field, then fire a low-powered laser diode to bounce light off the mirrors and illuminate their opponent’s pieces, eliminating them from the game. The goal is to defeat your opponent by strategically maneuvering pieces so the laser hits the “pharaoh” piece, similar to a king in chess.

Along with being a commercial success, Deflexion (now called Khet) has received significant press and industry recognition. The game was featured at the New York International Toy Fair; named one of Wired magazine’s “supercool” toys for 2005; dubbed “very cool” by Playthings, a toy industry publication; and praised as “innovative” by BusinessWeek. Khet is commercially available through the company’s website (khet.com) and select retail outlets around the US.

DigiTails LED Taillights

Drexel University, 2004 - $16,530

The DigiTails E-Team developed replacement taillight assemblies that combine the visual appeal of “Euro” style taillights (consisting of individual red lenses in a chrome housing) with the benefits of LED technology. The first prototype emulated different designs and the beta included software for creating customizable lighting designs. LEDs provide lower power consumption than incandescent lights, lower operating temperature, and a 20x longer lifespan.

The team members were from diverse academic backgrounds in business, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. The team’s advisors and faculty had experience in entrepreneurship and engineering.

Update: The DigiTails team went on to found Spaghetti Engineering, a company built around DigiTails technology. Read a profile of company founder Michael Muhlbaier here.

Location Specific Alarm Relay

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Residential fires kill and injure thousands of Americans and cause billions of dollars in property damage each year. More than 428,000 home fires occurred in 1996, which resulted in a residential fire every 74 seconds, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). By the mid 1980s, laws that required alarms in all new and existing residences existed in 38 states and thousands of municipalities. Systems wired throughout the house are expensive to install and provide only a general alert, while standard smoke alarms are not interconnected. This E-Team’s Location Specific Alarm Relay (LSAR) system is designed to be installed in individual rooms, but has the ability to transmit data and can relate the location of smoke in the event of a fire. For example, the existence of smoke in the basement will be relayed to the second floor bedroom through a combined horn and voice alarm

Patient Rotation System for 3D Mammography

Vanderbilt University, 2004 - $18,500

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. Current mammography screening techniques, which use polychromatic X-ray sources and compression techniques to obtain images of the breast, have a number of shortcomings.

This E-Team developed a compressionless monochromatic 3D mammography screening system to improve on the old model. The Patient Rotation System is a model table on which a patient can be rotated to allow the system to produce accurate three-dimensional images. The team made the table movable, able to rotate with the breast as a center point in order to easily screen the breast and chest wall, and improved the comfort of the experience for mammography patients.

Feasibility study to analyze the economic value proposition and related marketing strategy for a modular, pressurized anaerobic digestion reactor

Stanford University

Dairy farmers, animal processing facilities, and wastewater treatment plants use biogas generated from the anaerobic digestion of organic matter to stabilize their waste streams, facilitating processing for disposal or its conversion into usable by-products. NCIIA funding supports this E-Team in completing a technical feasibility study for a modular reactor that pressurizes and purifies biogas produced from anaerobic digestion of biomass using a closed-loop system. This will be the first step toward the commercialization of biogas-producing technology for use by commercial, industrial, and consumer clients who could benefit greatly from a reliable source of clean, renewable energy.

The US water supply and wastewater treatment is a $110 billion industry, of which $32.1 billion (30%) was spent in 2002 on capital improvements at municipal wastewater treatment facilities. In the next six years, municipalities are expected to spend an additional $100 billion to meet state and federal environmental standards. The team’s goal is to determine a practical system design and identify appropriate markets for commercialization, developing a thorough understanding of the economic value proposition for this technology

Automated Page-Turner

University of Rhode Island, 2004 - $10,000

This E-Team developed a single-switch automated page-turner designed to aid people lacking manual strength and dexterity in reading a hardcover book. The device is user-friendly, single-switch activated, affordable, reversible, lightweight, portable and easy to load, utilizing a washable and renewable commercially available adhesive.

Arsenic 3

University of California, Berkeley, 2004 - $20,000

This E-Team developed a prototype device for removing arsenic from Bangladesh's drinking water. The device uses chemically treated bottom ash (residue left over from coal combustion) as the medium for removing arsenic. The invention is based on coating the surfaces of bottom ash particles with ferric hydroxide, and using this treated ash to react with, remove, and immobilize arsenic in water supplies. Lab results demonstrated that 5 gm of treated bottom ash can reduce arsenic concentration in 2.4 liters of water from 2400 ppb to 10 ppb.

The E-Team believes the final product’s pricing model will be proportional to table salt, costing <.30/kg per person per year. The business costs are also comparable to table salt.

The team consisted of four lab-based professionals in chemical engineering and physics.

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