UC Irvine Engineering Student Projects “Wow” NPI Services!

Ingenuity 2014, a showcase of this year’s top student projects from the schools of information/computer sciences (ICS) and engineering at UC Irvine, impressed NPI Services visitors with the “wow” factor for the importance and depth of the students’ work. A spokesperson from each student project group gave an overview to all the assembled guests in the Beckman Center auditorium. Later, individual attendees had the opportunity to meet each student group at their respective display tables at a patio reception.

The presentation in the auditorium featured keynote speaker Jeff Margolis, Chairman & CEO of Welltok, Inc., known for his successful innovation in optimizing healthcare systems to promote health and reduce the dominance and high costs of “sickcare.”  The health theme continued in the presentations to this year’s awards from the engineering and computer science schools. The UCI Samueli School of Engineering Award went to Gerald R. Solomon, executive director of the Samueli Foundation, recognizing his years of work promoting health and education in addition to his legal career. Bob and Barbara Kleist received the UCI Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences Award. His stellar engineering career and her health care career clearly inspire their support for research at UCI in bioengineering, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism spectrum disorders, among their many other philanthropies.

There is no way to do justice to the outstanding and innovative work of these talented students in a few short paragraphs. The official project list from the program gives some notion of the variety and depth of their work. The ICS students created working applications for professional and personal use. One of the student-created applications, called Cappegories, helps users to select the most appropriate apps for themselves among the often many available for any given purpose. Another application, which the students personally demonstrated to NPI attendees, was sponsored by the UCI Facilities Management, Police Department, and Office of Information Technology. Named for the Anteater rallying cry, “Zot! Zot! Zot!” Zotfinder is a minutely detailed GPS system for the Irvine campus, inside and out. It also includes on-campus emergency support contacts. Expect this application to be embraced by incoming freshmen and transfer students this fall! The first place winner in the Butterworth Product Development Competition at the Bren ICS School was Sparky. Student developers of Sparky, using Bluetooth Low Energy based iBeacon technology, hope to enable professionals using Sparky to share their business contact information directly into each other’s smart devices, while they socialize. Is this app in our business networking future?

The showcase of projects from the Engineering students offered an opportunity to see products up close and personal, with a team of student engineers to field our questions. The five top projects include a prize winning aircraft in this year’s international Cessna/Raytheon AIAA Design/Build/Fly Competition, an innovative, practical, and economical mobile water treatment system for treating and reusing flowback water from hydraulic fracturing operations, and three health-related projects. These last three include a portable system for better and safer imaging to diagnose scoliosis, an improved guidewire for excisional biopsies which resists dislocation, fracturing, melting, and their associated health complications, and the first-place winner of the Beall Student Design Competition at the Samueli School of Engineering, Spero Diagnostics. The Spero team automated a digital microfluidic device (DMF) with image analysis and control software to totally automate the movement of droplets on the device, also adding blister packs to store and dispense the correct type and quantity of reagents onto the DMF. A DMF enhanced with the Spero software and Spero blister packs promises to allow a “minimally trained user to perform complicated assays with a DMF device in many settings.” A targeted application for such sophisticated diagnostics in the field is the early detection of sepsis, a common and often deadly condition that is often overlooked and recognized too late. The potential savings in lives and the cost of treatment from early detection of sepsis staggers the imagination!

NPI Services, Inc. salutes the wonderful work of these student scientists and engineers. We hope to see their many useful and important innovations in the market, enhancing and improving our lives. Remember, just a few short years ago, these university students were school kids like those we see all the time in our neighborhoods. Supporting and encouraging science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education from the youngest levels, and at home, helps create the creators of improvement and innovation! NPI Services is proud of our contribution and commitment to education and development for all our futures!