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Student-owned distributor business wins prize at Cleveland's Entrovation

Danny Sheridan comes from a family of entrepreneurs -- his father invests in small tech businesses and deals in commercial real estate for medical officers, and his mother is a marketing consultant. So it was only natural that the junior at Beachwood High School would start his own business. After finding he had a knack for selling things on eBay, Sheridan started Woodside Distributors, distributing energy efficient LED lights for Solon-based Mr. Beams.
“Mr. Beams didn’t have a lot of eBay, but I was really good at eBay,” says Sheridan. “When I ran into them I immediately was able to distribute their products online. I was able to add my area of expertise, and now we’re on Amazon and other places.”
Sheridan’s business has quadrupled in the past few months and he expects to reach $100,000 in sales by the end of the year.
Sheridan, who is president of the Beachwood High School Business Club, set up a booth at Entrovation on April 19 to showcase his company and the products he distributes. “There were a ton of people -- 1,000 or so -- who just came by to say hi,” he recalls. “The biggest reaction was, ‘Hey, you’re just a kid.’ Then it was, ‘Wow, he’s actually selling.’ I was fortunate; I made a few hundred bucks that day.”
In fact, Sheridan won the Innovative Entrepreneur of the Year award, sponsored by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. He received the top prize of $3,000. “I’m excited to buy more inventory and expand even faster,” he says.
Sheridan’s business is growing so fast, he’s looking for new fulfillment options. “I’ve been using Amazon to do more fulfillment,” he explains. “But it’s getting to the point I can’t ship from my house any more. The mailman can’t keep up.”

Source: Danny Sheridan
Writer: Karin Connelly

DAAP grad embraces innovation, nurtures young Design Geniuses

Rebecca Huffman’s circuitous route to UC’s Fashion Design program both inspired and informed her non-traditional senior thesis, Design Genius. More methodology than consumer good, Design Genius is a learning module that teaches students the value of education and the building blocks of problem-solving as they design their own products.

Unveiled at UC’s DAAPWorks, Design Genius takes a fresh approach to making learning relevant for kids of all ages, which is exactly what recent grad Huffman, 24, who works for LPK, wanted. 

“I knew that I wanted to do something that would help kids,” says Huffman, who spent a year working as a preschool teacher before starting her design training at DAAP.

As she considered what her culminating project for college would be, she thought back to a studio class in which she’d designed and created a real project, then put it up for sale in real life. Through that process, and its embrace of design-thinking, she saw the value of the disparate classes she’d taken through her academic career, from math to marketing and writing to psychology. And she felt empowered.

Her work as an LPK co-op increased her experience with design-thinking, an approach to problem-solving more often seen in Fast Company than elementary schools. 

“Design Genius is an attempt to solve the problem that our kids are facing by instilling a greater sense of educational purpose,” she says. 

She describes Design Genius on her website as “the culmination of five years of study and extensive research on the Creativity Quotient, Design Thinking in education, the concept of ‘failing forward,’ sociocultural trends impacting Generation Z, and the educational and social development of Tweens.”

What that looked like, in the end, were three, one-and-a-half hour sessions in two schools—St. Ursula Villa and Pleasant Ridge Montessori—in three different classes. Fourth and fifth grade students examined case studies in the form of fictional diary entries. Then, they ideated, revised and designed real products to help solve the problems of their fictional “customers.” 

“They learned everything I was trying to teach them,” Huffman says. “It was amazing.”

The students not only learned from the project, they loved it. Huffman received unprompted thank-you notes and testimonials when the students presented their products. She’s convinced that with a little tweaking, she can develop a fully functional learning module that can help young students not only design products, but create and sell them. 

By Elissa Yancey
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CWRU researchers turn to squid beaks for medical inspiration

Researchers at CWRU have developed a material that can morph from stiff to soft, making its gradient properties potentially useful in medical implants. The research was conducted by professors Stuart Rowan, Justin Fox and Jeffrey Capadona of the macromolecular science and engineeringchemistry and biomedical engineering departments, and Paul Marasco of the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The inspiration for the new material came from studying the properties of squid beaks. “Squid beaks are a stiff material, but they have to attach to very soft tissue,” explains Rowan. “They don’t have any bones per se. Imagine a piece of steel attached to a piece of plastic and you started bending or putting stressors on it. Things would start to tear, and that’s obviously not very good for the squid.”
Capadona, Marasco and Rowan came up with the idea after reading a research paper published in 2008 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rowan and his team looked at how the squid’s beak transitions from hard to soft material. “How the squid solves the problem is with a gradient design that goes from hard to soft when wet,” explains Rowan. “We created a material with a similar kind of structure. We tried to mimic the architecture and properties.”
The nanocomposite material the researchers developed changes properties when wet -- going from a rigid material to a soft material. It potentially will prove useful in medical devices such as diabetic glucose sensors, prosthetic limbs and central vein ports. The researchers are now working with the Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs to develop uses for the material.
The research was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemistry Society.
Rowan and Capadona previously had studied the properties of the sea cucumber, developing a self-healing polymer that is useful in coating. Rowan enjoys taking his cues from natural phenomena.
“As a materials person, I can learn a lot from seeing how nature has evolved to tackle the challenges that we see in our world, too,” Rowan says. “Nature makes a wonderful variety of very cool materials. The key is in understanding how nature does that.”

Source: Stuart Rowan
Writer: Karin Connelly

UC App Lab on MainStreet unveils mobile app suites on iTunes, Google Play

Students and faculty have launched their first mobile app suites out of the new UC App Lab on MainStreet.

The University of Cincinnati opened the App Lab, a campus mobile application development center, a little over a month ago. It's a physical space where students, faculty, staff and alumni can develop apps for smartphones and tablets. It's located with ResNet and MobileCats wireless store on MainStreet, and is the only space of its type in the region.

The first two app suites are geared toward the campus community. One is for current students, while the other is for alumni.

Through Blackboard Mobile Learn, current students can access a UC campus map, check grades, track shuttles, access university sports and campus news and events. The app is free for current UC students. The Alumni app accesses campus news and networking events. It allows alumni to donate to the college, volunteer at the college, and connect with other alumni via their social networks, among other features.

This is the just the start for the App Lab, which is working with local businesses and organizations to create new mobile apps.

"We are moving pretty fast," says Nelson Vincent, vice president of UC Information Technologies. "We're working on a second release of the alumni app, and working with some startup companies to see if they are a good fit."

The App Lab is a way to cultivate the region's mobile app development talent. It's a growing part of web commerce and everyday life for millions of smartphone users. In 2012, the average person used some form of mobile 127 minutes a day, Vincent says.

"It's a real generational shift," he says. "Who doesn't have a smartphone today with apps on it? And folks who do this work in Cincinnati are in very short supply."

As the app development program matures, UC is considering partnering with private businesses for mentorship and co-op opportunities.

"This is a really exciting time," says Vincent. "A community of people are coming together to make this happen, and we think this is going to take off."

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Intern in Ohio program launches this week, connects students with internships

This week, Detroit-based Digerati launched its Intern in Ohio program to the public, which is sponsored by the University of Toledo. Like eHarmony, the program uses an advanced matching algorithm to match students with internship opportunities.
Intern in Ohio is free to both students who are looking for internships and businesses who want to post internships. To register, students and employers visit Intern in Ohio’s website to sign up and create a profile or post internship opportunities. Students fill out a short questionnaire about their preferences, and employers share information about the position. The system then identifies the top seven matches for each student, as well as for each position. When the match is made, both the student and employer are notified, and they must show interest before any contact information is shared.
“We encourage diverse companies—large and small, for-profit and nonprofit, government and corporate,” says Wendy Pittman, director of Digerati’s Classroom to Career. “It’s a great chance for employers to broadcast their company and internship program across the state and reach a larger pool of applicants.”
Only companies in Ohio can post opportunities to the Intern in Ohio website, but all types of internships are welcome. There are posts for marketing, engineering and social media, among others, says Pittman.
The program is open to all students who live in Ohio, whether they’re in-state or out-of-state students. Research shows that not only do internships often lead employment offers after graduation, but that students are more likely to remain in an area where they held and internship.
“This is the first replication of the Classroom to Career technology from Michigan to Ohio,” says Pittman. “Experiential learning is a game-changer; and we’re looking forward to working with smaller communities to make a difference.”
In 2011, Digerati launched its Intern in Michigan program, which has resulted in more than 127,000 matches and introductions between students and employers. Over 1,000 Michigan businesses have posted 4,824 internship opportunities, and 1,049 colleges and universities in the state use the site.
Full disclosure: hiVelocity's parent company, IMG, supplies content to Intern in Ohio on a contractual basis.
By Caitlin Koenig
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CSU wind power co. wins clean energy challenge, heads to chicago for regionals

For the second year in a row, Amplified Wind Solutions competed in the Ohio Clean Energy Challenge. This year the company won $10,000 and a trip to Chicago for a chance to win $100,000 in the Midwest competition.

Amplified Wind Solutions has designed a wind amplification system that can produce up to six times more electricity than a typical wind turbine. The company is targeting the telecommunications industry.
AWS CEO and co-founder Niki Zmij had eight minutes to present the company to the competition judges. They were the second company to present, but Zmij felt prepared and that she answered the judges’ questions well. Apparently, she was right.
“The winner was not to be announced until the awards reception at the very end of the day, but during our judges’ feedback session they decided to tell us early that we had won,” says Zmij. “They said our presentation really set the bar for the entire day, and wanted to ask us to present again at the awards ceremony so the other teams could hear our pitch. It was such a huge compliment.”
AWS is a Cleveland State University company co-founded in February 2012 based on technology invented by Majid Rashidi, chair of CSU’s engineering technology department. Other company members include Terry Thiele, director of sustainable product strategies at Lubrizol Corporation and Jon Stehura, financial manager at Laird Technologies and former CFO of Park Ohio.
The company has prototypes at CSU and Progressive Field. They have now completed designs for a third prototype, and Zmij is in discussions with several telecom companies about installing the pilot model on their towers. They are also looking for a manufacturing partner. Zmij predicts AWS will be ready for commercial sale in 2014.
If AWS wins the Midwest challenge in Chicago, the company will proceed to the national competition, for a chance to win an additional $100,000.
Zmij will earn her MBA in August and will stay with AWS full-time. “I'm fairly certain the entrepreneurial bug has given me the entrepreneurial virus,” she says. “I don't anticipate it going away any time soon.”

The company anticipates hiring additional staff in the third quarter of this year.

Source: Niki Zmij
Writer: Karin Connelly

Campus Shift launches nationwide online textbook marketplace

Campus Shift recently announced the launch of their online textbook marketplace, allowing students across the country to sell and buy used textbooks locally.
Derek Haake, founder of Youngstown-based Campus Shift, says the idea was borne out of his frustration with the amount of money he was spending on textbooks during his undergrad.
“What we’re trying to do is give students a fair price on their books,” he says, noting Campus Shift does not purchase the books themselves, like a University bookstore might. “The marketplace allows student to connect with each other,” and determine a public location to make the exchange, eliminating shipping costs and time.
Haake acknowledges problems with purchasing books off eBay or Amazon, saying the student does not ultimately know what the textbook is really worth. Campus Shift works around that problem. “Our software finds what the book is really worth, so students aren’t in the dark,” he says. And it’s all done without revealing personal information. “Everything is confidential.”
Since launching in December, Campus Shift has seen hundreds of students signing up and listing textbooks on the marketplace. “All in all, we have a little over 175 campuses nationwide,” including California, Texas and Ohio. “Our biggest user base is in Ohio.”
It’s been a long, worthwhile journey for Haake, who started the Campus Shift project in 2006. He notes they’ve been working with the Youngstown Business Incubator “for about the past year,” assisting with presentations for initial seed money.
Excited for what’s next, Haake is asking readers to stay tuned for more in the near future. “We have a couple more software enhancements coming out in the next two to three weeks.”
Source: Derek Haake
Writer: Joe Baur

OSU Driving Simulation Lab revs up to study driver behaviors

Texting and talking on a cell phone while driving are just two of the behaviors that engineers at the new $1.3 million OSU Driving Simulation Lab will be studying.
The state-of-the-art facility, located on the university’s campus, is the result of a partnership between OSU, Honda Research & Development of America (HRA) and the Ohio Supercomputer Center.
According to Jan Weisenberger, senior associate vice president for research at OSU, engineers and researchers will use the lab to study a wide range of driver behaviors. “The overriding goal for studies conducted at the lab will be the design of vehicles that will minimize driver distraction, reducing the incidence of accidents and improving auto safety. Other goals include gaining a better understanding of human perception, cognition and attention to help create new vehicle designs that are less stressful and more enjoyable for drivers.”
The lab will be available for use by university, industry and government groups to investigate how drivers interact with, and react to, a wide variety of in-vehicle systems, vehicle characteristics and external driving situations. Users can also study special populations, such as teenagers or elderly individuals, or evaluate the effects of fatigue on driving accuracy.
Weisenberger points out that the auto industry can use the lab to evaluate new designs for infotainment systems in a vehicle that can minimize driver distraction, and a university researcher could study basic mechanisms of attention and cognitive workload.
The facility boasts three simulation setups with a full array of hardware and software, according to John Dirrig, senior manager/chief engineer, Corporate and Technical Communications for HRA, “The hardware includes projection screens, motion simulators and user interfaces and equipment for measuring eye movements and gaze, as well as physiological correlates such as blood pressure and heart rate. The software allows the researcher to simulate different driving scenarios, like urban, freeway, or suburban settings, and to alter the vehicle dynamics of steering, braking and other characteristics to simulate unexpected occurrences in different weather, road and lighting conditions.”
The lab is being funded by HRA and the Ohio Board of Regents. “Additional funding from the Honda-OSU partnership is supporting operation costs as we bring the facility on line,” Weisenberger notes. “Ultimately, we hope to support operations from user fees and research grants.”

Sources: Jan Weisenberger, John Dirrig
Writer: Lynne Meyer

UC, local industry partner for game-changer in solar-powered refrigerator

A virtual trade mission taken by University of Cincinnati MBA students and local industries has turned into a very real product that could put a dent in food shortages across India.

Next year, new solar-powered refrigerator products will be tested on an aloe farm in the developing country early next year. If successful, the SolerCool could be a reality for Indian farmers, just in time for summer.

The product is a self-contained cooling unit that relies on the sun for power. It's a box that measures 10' x 7' x 11', and is topped by solar panels. SolerCool was developed through a collaboration between former and current UC students and local industries, including SimpliCool Technologies International LLC in Waynesville.

The idea for the technology came after the MBA students and SimpliCool attended a "virtual trade mission" to India in July 2011. The mission was part of a Business Law for Managers class taught by Ilse Hawkins, an attorney and adjunct professor of accounting at UC. The mission virtually brought Cincinnati and Indian businesses together to find ways of partnering to better preserve Indian produce.

Today, 30 to 40 percent of produce in India is lost to spoilage because of lack of refrigeration options, Hawkins says. India, with 1.2 million people, faces chronic food shortages.

"While we were doing the mission, we had this tiny, insulated structure that kept audio visual materials at proper temperature," Hawkins says. "We thought, 'Why couldn't we create a structure powered with solar panels like that that could be put anywhere on a farm?'"

Shortly after that meeting, Hawkins took a group to India where the idea was further flushed out. Eventually, a collaborative effort led to the creation of the SolerCool unit.

MBA students worked on a business plan, helped with the initial feasibility calculations and networked with Indian businesses who might contribute to the product.

Mohsen Rezayat, chief solutions architect at Siemens UGS PLM Software and adjunct professor in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, primarily worked on the engineering of the solar panels in the SimpliCool-manufactured cooling cube.

UC does not own the product, and therefore won't be profiting from its sales, Hawkins says. However, SimpliCool has vowed to contribute to UC's College of Business to fund further travel to India if the idea is successful, she says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

the learning egg receives $50,000 from innovation fund to enhance lightning grader web app

The Innovation Fund has awarded $50,000 to North Jackson-based The Learning Egg. Funds will be used to improve their web-based application, Lightning Grader.
“[Lightning Grader] allows teachers to quickly and easily create a learning assessment, grade 100 pages a minute, and generate an analysis of student performance,” explains Elijah Stambaugh, CEO at The Learning Egg.
He says he got the idea when he was teaching middle school math at National Heritage Academy in Youngstown. “I was frustrated with reaching kids, understanding what they knew and what they didn’t.” Stambaugh’s frustration led to a meeting with the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) during the summer break of 2010. “With YBI’s amazing encouragement and business acumen, I was able to take my dream of making teaching more effective into reality.”
Feedback from teachers has been equally amazing. With teachers subscribing to the app from Alaska to Texas (32 states in total), Stambaugh says learning professionals are “finding they rely on the 14 real-time reports as a way to measure and improve achievement among students, teachers and their respective states.” Lake Catholic High School in Lake County, Green Local Schools in Summit County, Lorain County Educational Service Center and Canfield Middle School in Mahoning County are among Ohio schools currently using Lightning Grader.
Now Stambaugh hopes to use the Innovation Fund award to make some improvements on his product.
“The Learning Egg will enhance its feature set and continue school integration across the country,” he explains. “[We’ll] also continue to integrate with other educational applications, such as books, content providers, professional development groups, and assessment solutions.”
Before long, Stambaugh hopes to refocus on building web assessment technology, so teachers can use any means to assess students. “The Lightning Grader solution is the only all in one solution for assessment.”
Source: Elijah Stambaugh
Writer: Joe Baur

ed tech idea challenge grant program launches to support entrepreneurs

Turning Technologies and the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) have launched the Ed Tech Idea Challenge Grant Program to support entrepreneurs with a passion for transforming education through innovation.
“The Ed Tech Idea Challenge Grant is a collaborative effort,” explains John Wilson, Director of Turning Foundation, an organization that aims to discover where the next great educational technology will come from and how the idea can become a marketable reality. Winning applicants of this annual competitive grant will receive up to $20,000 and access to YBI’s intellectual capital in support of starting up a business and developing an idea. The deadline to apply is Friday, December 14th at 4:30pm.

YBI has two of the nation's leading companies in the ed tech field -- Turning Technologies and Lightning Grader. Using compeition to spur innovation is the obvious next step, which Wilson and his staff believe could be the catalyst for invention.
“One of the exciting aspects of this kind of competition is that the truly innovative concepts are not something we are necessarily thinking about at this moment,” he says. “While I’m sure we will see iterations around possible mobile apps and digital content platforms for education, we also anticipate some ideas that are just not on the radar screen right now.”
The collaborative program will thrust aspiring entrepreneurs into the unpredictable waters of starting an enterprise from scratch, giving immediate real-life experience to tomorrow’s innovators.
“The entrepreneur will experience the ups and downs of developing a concept into a marketable product,” explains Wilson. “They will be surrounded by individuals at YBI at different phases of the same experience, and the collective wisdom, experience and support network will be valuable.”     
Source: John Wilson
Writer: Joe Baur

OSU invests in study to improve sustainability of campus operations

The Ohio State University (OSU) is investing in a study aimed at improving synergy between campus operations and surrounding ecosystems. The long-term goal is to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of campus operations, thus saving money while also protecting the environment.
“The goods and services provided by ecosystems are often underappreciated, particularly in our increasingly techno-centric society,” explains Bhavik Bakshi, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “We tend to think of technological solutions before thinking about whether nature can provide solutions.”
Bakshi and his staff will consider technological and ecological systems that the university depends on as integrated synergistic networks. “Such a view allows us to find win-win solutions that have economic and environmental benefits,” Bakshi says. “We believe that developing such techno-ecological networks is an essential part of sustainable development since it permits explicit consideration of ecological constraints in technological design.”
Universities across the country are looking to improve the efficiency of their operations while also implementing sustainability measures. Due to its size and prominence, Ohio State proves to be an excellent testing ground for such a study.
The university is a network comprised of technological, ecological and social systems. Buildings, roads, trees, lawns, faculty and staff make the campus what it is. “By finding synergies with ecosystems, we can discover ways to reduce costs while enhancing the quality of life on campus and moving toward sustainability,” Bakshi says. Finding synergies is also necessary to keep the university’s commitment to climate neutrality signed by President Gee.
Initially, the plan is to develop models of the technological and ecological systems in a section of campus, and use the models to help understand the impact of adopting environmentally friendly alternatives to, for example, lawn mowers and other aspects of landscaping.
“In the long run we expect to use such insight to develop a part of campus as a living laboratory for sustainability studies,” Bakshi explains. “This will involve making changes in relevant technological and ecological systems with involvement of people who use the selected area.”
Source: Bhavik Bakshi
Writer: Joe Baur

osu's social entrepreneurship program mints motivated grads bent on improving society

Ohio State University is growing the next generation of social entrepreneurs -- inspired, motivated students intent on addressing society's problems in innovative ways -- with a new program aimed at nurturing young talent.

“It was the proudest moment of my undergraduate career and shaped me into the industrial designer I am today,” says Krista Alley, a recent graduate of Ohio State University, of its Social Innovation and Commercialization (SIAC) Initiative.
Located within the College of Engineering, SIAC espouses three goals, according to Peter Rogers, Ph.D., a professor in OSU’s Engineering Education Innovation Center and a leader of the program.  “We’re looking to educate students as up-and-coming social entrepreneurs, develop products for people with disabilities to help them become more independent and provide an alternative revenue stream for the non-profit organizations with which we work,” he says.

Engineering, business, industrial design and MBA students are teamed with professionals, such as occupational and physical therapists, on projects.

Alley’s project involved designing an interactive, hand-held device to help children with Down's Syndrome become better organized. “These children can’t grasp the concept of time and time management, “ Dr. Rogers explains. “Getting them up and ready for school is a constant battle for their families because the children can’t remember which tasks come first.” Through the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, 20 families are now testing a prototype of the device.
So far, SIAC has developed two other potential products to serve the disabled – a compression vest for children with autism and programmable exercise equipment for adults with physical disabilities.

While teaching social entrepreneurism in college isn’t new, OSU’s program is unique in its emphasis on commercialization techniques to achieve sustainable growth, Dr. Rogers notes.

“Once the program’s products are manufactured and ready for sale, SIAC’s goal is to have its non-profit organization’s partners help market the products to its local and national constituents,” he explains. Profits will be divided, with a portion going to the non-profits and a portion re-invested back into SIAC to help create OSU’s first completely self-sustaining academic program.  
Source:  Peter Rogers, Krista Alley
Writer: Lynne Meyer

case western reserve university receives $4.8 million for regenerative medicine project

Case Western Reserve University is expanding their regenerative medicine research thanks to $2.4 million in funding awarded from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission. Case Western’s National Center for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) will match funds along with a variety of collaborators, including Ohio State, Nanofiber Solutions and BioOhio to provide $4.8 million for the university’s “OH-Alive Innovator Platform: A Process and Manufacturing Platform for Cell Therapy” project.
The goals, says NCRM Marketing and Operations Manager Michael Gilkey, are twofold: first, to transform medical therapy through the use of cells rather than drugs to heal tissues and organs; second, to create the commercial and academic infrastructure in Ohio to establish a self-sufficient industry of biotechnology and support services that prove attractive to cell-therapy institutions across the U.S.
If successful, taxpayers and private companies in the industry stand to benefit. “[This project] plays a significant role in building the biotechnology infrastructure in Ohio,” explains Gilkey, reiterating that lives will be directly impacted by this research. “New cell therapies will be accelerated into clinical trials and market approval, so patients will get access to effective, cutting-edge therapies sooner.”
This project will save in public health costs. “Many diseases and injuries have no regenerative or curative therapy, so costs to U.S. tax payers is often high,” says Gilkey. “For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the cost of diabetes to be $174 billion in 2007.” Functional cell therapy could cure the disease early on and eliminate the possibility of developing complications associated with diabetes, saving billions of dollars every year.
The project’s finish date is slated three years from the start of the grant in late October or early November 2012. Gilkey says the platform will result in a new startup company that will commercialize the platform’s base technology. “We hope to have a long legacy of successful spinout companies from OH-Alive whose manufacturing technology is based from work by this innovative platform.”

Source: Michael Gilkey
Writer: Joe Baur

kent state university receives $3 million for nanoscale engineering project

Kent State University (KSU) is attempting to go where no project has gone before. In collaboration with AlphaMicron Inc. (AMI), Akron Polymer Systems (APS), Crystal Diagnostics (CDx), the Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI) and Kent Displays Inc. (KDI), KSU was awarded $3 million for its “New Concept Devices Based on Nanoscale Engineering of Polymer-Liquid Crystal Interface” project.

If it is successful, the research project could have very wide-ranging consumer benefit. “The project ultimately aims to develop consumer electronic products that make the life of ordinary people better, just like the liquid crystal TVs have positively changed our lives in a manner completely unimaginable 40 years ago," explains the Director of LCI, Hiroshi Yokoyama. He lists a slew of new inventions that could be generated by the end of the three-year project, including new electronic tablet capabilities.
“The $3 million grant was awarded under the Innovation Platform Program, one of the support programs run by the Ohio Department of Development under the umbrella of the Ohio Third Frontier,” adds Yokoyama. The grant will be used to hire research staff to form a dedicated team in each partner and to purchase necessary supplies.

Each of the project partners has a different goal. “In close collaboration with Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute, KDI will develop and commercialize the next generation Boogie Board [zero-power electronic notepad using liquid crystals] with narrower line and select erase capability," says Yokoyama.

AMI’s goal will be to perfect the optical clarity of the Special Warfare Electronic Eyewear program to meet the stringent specifications required by Navy SEALs in battlefield.
For CDx, Yokoyama explains they will “advance their strength in pathogen detection systems by developing a robust design of liquid crystal interface that allows them to manufacture the device by roll-to-roll process.” 

Meanwhile, APS will develop specialty polymers tailored for the target products of KDI, AMI and CDx with mass manufacturing compatible synthetic routes. “The LCI will work together with all of them to analyze their technical issues and develop solutions.”
Yet overall, the project aims to advance technology that may soon find its way into consumers' hands while also benefiting the environment. “We are looking into lighter, energy efficient, human and environment friendly electronics products, taking full advantage of liquid crystals and polymers.”

Source: Hiroshi Yokoyama
Writer: Joe Baur
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