This grant supports the development of a new undergraduate curriculum at Lehigh University that brings together students from the social sciences, business, and engineering to focus on the creation of entrepreneurial enterprises that address the social and economic issues of the working poor and homeless. In the curriculum, interdisciplinary groups of students will follow Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) process to create innovative and sustainable solutions to local community problems.
Specifically, NCIIA funding will support the following objectives: development of a new social entrepreneurship undergraduate curriculum that will conclude with a capstone project; development of a year-long pilot capstone project, “Bethlehem’s South Side Urban Agriculture Enterprise,” that will focus on developing and implementing a business model, social system, and technology infrastructure required to address the needs of that community while establishing a self-sufficient, scalable enterprise; and development of extracurricular social entrepreneurship activities with an initial focus on urban agriculture, including student competitions, guest speakers, and a social entrepreneurship club.
FLI Technologies developed Seek, a product that satisfies the ever-present need to locate misplaced items. Seek blended plastics, rubber molding, and circuitry in a manner that satisfies the criterion for performance, reliability, and style. Seek was created by Lehigh University college students for college students. The college market is a niche not targeted by any competitors. Beginning with the introduction of Seek, FLI's goal was to broaden the personal item-location market and be the leading supplier for college students.
The team was comprised of eight undergraduate students from Engineering, Design, and Finance.
Digi-me is a service that helps college-age job seekers and career changers market themselves better by putting their resumes and portfolios in a digital format. Digi-me offers clients the ability to create a digital resume and portfolio on a mini-disc or CD-ROM. These digital resumes and portfolios can include video and audio clips, CAD files, and various graphics in addition to text. An employer can get a more personal view of the applicant and the applicant's ability to communicate, as the job seeker demonstrates his/her communication skills and personality. Digi-me originated in a Lehigh University student E-Team project through the Integrated Product Development course. The project included market research and research on financial and technical feasibility.
Modern athletic teams spend extensive resources to study and minimize uncertainty in player performance. This E-Team is developing a device to test performance and correlate that information with environmental conditions. The device includes data collection hardware ("radar gun," weather station, and computer hardware) and feed collected data through a statistical program relevant to the sport played. This information allows coaches to determine how well players perform in different environmental conditions, providing data on player performance correlated with temperature, humidity, and wind conditions.
No similar coordinated system currently exists, with the main competition to the product being radar guns and weather stations. The components are arranged in a protective, transportable, self-contained, reasonably priced package. The target markets for this product are baseball, softball, tennis, and soccer leagues.
The E-Team members come from each of three colleges at Lehigh University. Students on the team major in economics, marketing, accounting, architecture, computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, finance, and business information systems.
Microfinancing is the delivery of financial services to the economically poor on a large scale and in a sustainable manner. While this approach has been highly successful tool for fighting poverty on a global scale, the small loans ($50-$500) require loan processing and laborintensive activities that result in high transaction costs. With this project, Lehigh will develop E-Teams focusing on the implementation of pilot microfinance technology in developing countries, beginning in Honduras. The projects will include:
A rigorous application and selection process
An international immersion trip with students and faculty mentors
Experiential learning based on tackling real problems with external clients
Multidisciplinary student teams developing technologies and technology services
A favorite art activity for many children is painting with tempera paints and brushes. Although kids enjoy the creative and fun exercise, they often make a mess when painting. To address this problem, the New Design Painting E-Team analyzed existing paintbrushes. From their research, they created the No-Dip-Paintstick. The No-Dip-Paintstick is a revolutionary, self-contained art utensil that eliminates the need for separate pots of paint, water for rinsing, and multiple brushes. The transparent handle of the brush contains a soft cartridge of non-toxic, washable paint. The handle's transparency allows the user to see the color of paint held within. To release the paint, the user squeezes the brush and activates the cartridge. Paint flows from the cartridge and into a funnel which controls the paint flow onto the brush bristles. The eight brushes in the No-Dip-Paintstick set have synthetic, straight nylon bristles.
Reef aquariums aim to create thriving ecosystems by growing and reproducing corals and invertebrates. To aid in that process the EcoTech Marine E-Team developed the Easy-Ionizer, a device that simplifies reef-keeping by using automation to create a stable marine environment.
In order to properly care for fish and other aquatic organisms contained within a reef aquarium, proper and stable water chemistry is required. Typical daily chores of maintaining a reef aquarium include topping off the tank with fresh water and supplementing calcium and alkalinity. The Easy-Ionizer automatically combines the multiple chores of freshwater top off and calcium and alkalinity supplementation, consolidating two otherwise expensive products into one package.
The E-Team included ten undergraduate students. Two faculty advisors with expertise in business economics and geo-environmental engineering supported the students along with several industry experts
Update: The EcoTech team has gone on to form a successful aquarium products company. Visit their website here.
EcoTech's products are now sold in 450 stores and 35 distributors across the US. The company has developed two more propeller pumps and an LED light for reef aquariums. EcoTech generated $15M in revenue in 2011, has 42 full time staff and a 4,000 square foot work space.
The FreeFeet E-Team designed a strap-in binding for a snowboard boot equipped with an adapter that allows snowboarders to combine the softer feel of strap-in boots with the more convenient step-in system. Freefeet combines the two methods by means of an attachment that allows the snowboarder to quickly "step-in" to the board while using nearly any boot she wants.
The E-Team consisted of three sophomores and one junior, each majoring in integrated business and engineering, and one senior majoring in finance and biology.
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.
This E-Team, already incorporated as Orion Security LSP LLC, is in the process of completing prototype development of their low-cost GPS location device. The company, formed in Lehigh's Integrated Product Development program, currently runs a location-based service called Findum, which provides a person's location through a cellular telephone. The user, say a parent, logs onto Findum's online application, enters their username and password, and instantly acquires the exact location of the cell phone--say a child carrying it in her pocket.
While location-based services like this represent a growing industry with several competitors on the market, the high price of location devices (from $250-$800) have prevented explosive growth. However, the team has developed a manufacturing process that allows them to sell the devices for $50-$100. The team is now perfecting that manufacturing process and designing prototypes for their three target markets: collars for pets, shoe inserts for children, and vehicle devices for business-to-business fleet management.