The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis aspires to discover the unknown, educate students and serve society. Our strategy focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, and security. Through innovative partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — we will contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.
Washington University in St. Louis is dedicated to challenging its faculty and students alike to seek new knowledge and greater understanding of an ever-changing, multicultural world.
Nathan Brajer (right), a 2014 graduate in biomedical engineering, and Evan Madill (left), a 2014 graduate in biology, won $10,000 in the Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal Global Impact Awards Oct. 6, sponsored by the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
Their company, called ViFlex, offers simple, low-cost eyeglass kits to people in developing countries. In the spring, the team, then called Envisioning Solutions, tied for first place in the 2014 Discovery Competition at the School of Engineering & Applied Science.
Another Discovery Competition finalist, ZnDermal, was a finalist for the Global Impact Award and received $2,000.
The winner of the Global Impact Award was Nanopore Diagnostics, which is developing a rapid and portable bacterial diagnostic test to take the guess work out of prescribing antibiotics. The team won $40,000. Nanopore also won the 2014 Olin Cup Competition.
Read more about Brajer and Madill in Fast Company.
Members of the ZnDermal team (from left): Andrew Chang, Nicole Ensz, Braden Perkins, Julie Knowles.
In 2013, Suren Dutia, a Washington University Engineering alumnus, and his wife, Jas Grewal, created the Global Impact Award for Washington University students and alumni. Their goal is to encourage entrepreneurs and assist them through education and access to mentors and capital in a nurturing environment that would allow them to grow and scale their ventures.
All are welcome to join the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Monday, Oct. 6, as it celebrates the finalists in the competition and announces the inaugural winner of this honor.
The event will feature a cocktail hour from 4-5 p.m. with posters and demonstrations from the finalists and the announcement of winners at 5 p.m.
The finalists include:
· Janji, with designs inspired by a country and proceeds helping that country with clean water or nutrition, Janji is the first running brand built around giving back;
· Nanopore Diagnostics LLC, developing a rapid and portable bacterial diagnostic test to take the guess work out of prescribing antibiotics;
· UStrive Inc., an innovative college admissions technology that serves as both a matching tool and social network for students and mentors throughout the entire admissions process;
· ViFlex, developing a pair of low-cost, adjustable eyeglasses as part of a sustainable and scalable solution to reduce the burden of poor vision for the 700 million in the developing world who have untreated refractive error;
· Visiolog has developed an efficient screening tool for underdiagnosed early-childhood vision disorders;
· ZnDermal, a transdermal zinc delivery system, has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of diarrhea diseases in developing countries, saving and improving the quality of millions of lives. The team is made of up Engineering students.
Judges for the award include:
· Joni Cobb, founder and president, Pipeline
· Mary Jo Gorman, founder, Advanced ICU Care
· Ronald Kruszewski, chairman and CEO, Stifel Nicolaus
· Gary Rayner, founder and CEO, LifeProof
Have an idea for a business venture that would create social change? That idea could win you up to $50,000 through a new awards program through the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
Alumnus Suren G. Dutia and his wife, Jas K. Grewal, have established a global impact award to assist promising entrepreneurs and high-growth entrepreneurial ventures to catalyze social change.
The award is open to current WUSTL students, postdoctoral researchers and alumni who have graduated in the past five years. The application deadline is noon March 24; the first award will be presented in September.
To learn more, plan to join Skandalaris Center Managing Director Ken Harrington in a Google Hangout on at 4 p.m. CST Wednesday, Feb. 19: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cenji1bi6cve915h0l3ab08nov0
For more information on the award, download the Welcome Kit.
By Ethan Green and Zachary Berman
Imagine it’s your first day at a new job. Your boss drives you out to a 50-acre field of grass, hands you a single blade of grass and says, “Find all the blades of grass that are just like this one.” What do you do?
Even an expert would say, “I can find all of the similar blades, but it will take at least a week,” but your boss says you don’t have a week. That’s where simMachines comes in.
What is simMachines?
simMachines may be the fastest similarity search engine in existence. While standard search engines, like Google, look for specific keyword matches, similarity search takes in an object, such as a picture, and returns other objects that share characteristics with the first object.
Arnoldo J. Muller-Molina, the brain behind simMachines, has a simple idea – find objects that are similar and find them faster than anyone else.
When we first talked with Arnoldo, he showed us a demo of how his search engine could take a picture of a shoe and find other shoes exactly like it – the same color, heel and style. But similarity search can do much more than find a pair of shoes.
What can big data do?
Similarity search can recommend a new song, discover what a customer might buy next or even analyze data from rockets shot into space. Data scientists all over the world are analyzing larger amounts of data than ever before, and as the problems get bigger, finding the solutions takes longer.
As a user listens and votes on more songs, Pandora gets better at recommending new titles; but the more data Pandora has, the longer the search for a new song could take. Arnoldo and his team have created a number of different similarity searches that are faster than ever before, and now he is building a company with his solutions.
The CELect Project
As part of the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, we – Ethan Green, Austin French (MBA ‘14) and Zachary Berman – have gotten the chance to work with simMachines. We are conducting a message audit and performing a full market analysis to help Arnoldo take his incredibly fast similarity search engine to the world of big data. We want to make sure simMachines’s message accurately depicts the value simMachines can provide to its customers through its products. In order to market such sophisticated products, understanding the customers’ needs is critical.
After our meeting with Arnoldo, we were blown away by just how much similarity search can do, and how much he has accomplished. We believe that with the right structure and market positioning, simMachines will be extremely successful in bringing its proprietary similarity search to companies across the globe.
— Ethan Green and Zachary Berman are both seniors in the BS/MS program in computer science in the School of Engineering & Applied Science with second majors in entrepreneurship through the Olin Business School.
Washington University in St. Louis alumni in the New York City and San Francisco areas can present their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges for feedback at two upcoming IdeaBounce events.
In addition to the opportunity to present entrepreneurial ideas, the events also allow alumni, friends and parents to connect and network. All audience members and participants must register to attend.
The WU Club of New York and the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University will host an IdeaBounce event from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 29 at AppNexus. The cost is $25 per person and includes a networking reception with appetizers, beer and wine.
For more information or to register, visit http://alumni.wustl.edu/Events/Pages/Event-Details.aspx?eventId=e631f987-5c0b-e311-8984-005056a800bc&type=event.
The WU Club of San Francisco/Bay Area and the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies will host a second IdeaBounce from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 5 at Box. The cost is $10 per person.
For more information or to register, visit http://alumni.wustl.edu/Events/Pages/Event-Details.aspx?eventId=d292fadc-820a-e311-8984-005056a800bc&type=event.
By Joshua Siegel
IDEA Labs is a bioengineering design and entrepreneurship incubator founded in 2012 by Avik Som, an MD/PhD student. It is a joint venture of the School of Medicine, School of Engineering & Applied Science and the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS). Teams of undergraduate, medical students and graduate students work together to create solutions to real clinical problems. We bring clinicians in to share clinical problems and ideas and give students the chance to work in teams to develop innovative solutions. Teams of three to four engineering students and three to four medical or graduate students then brainstorm, research, design, implement solutions and develop prototypes. We provide teams with funding, lab space, and guidance from clinical mentors and technical advisers. Teams present final designs at Demo Day to a panel of judges from the St. Louis entrepreneurial and medical communities. Our objective is to nourish a culture of innovation at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
We were fortunate to receive an outpouring of support from the Skandalaris Center and other contributors that made our inaugural year successful beyond our expectations. Multiple project teams from last year continued development after Demo Day. Teams have gone on to seek venture capital and win monetary prizes in other engineering design competitions. We are excited to kick off our second year with Problem Day at 7 p.m. Oct. 11, 2013, in the Connor Auditorium at the Farrell Learning & Teaching Center at the School of Medicine. Visit our website ideas.wustl.edu to learn more and fill out an application by Oct. 1.
— Joshua Siegel is a third-year MD/PhD student at Washington University School of Medicine.