Warren Drew Smith, professor of electrical and electronic engineering, is excited about Sac State’s chances in the upcoming California State University symposium in Santa Clara. “I think our team is going to win the competition,” he says.
Smith’s optimism seems warranted. Sac State’s team (engineering students, Neil Gee and Jose Camacho Jr., and business students Rebecca Dalton and Michael Hebert) has honed its project for several weeks. Engineering students Jakira Jekayinfa-Brown and Jeevan Bhungal will attend the contest as well because they helped design the project.
The team, one of four from CSU selected to compete, has created a computer-controlled device that prepares stem cells taken from diabetic patients for injection into the patients’ feet to improve their circulation. “Our engineering students are working on the design as their two-semester capstone project,” Smith notes, “so they will have a functioning prototype ready to show at the competition.”
This year CSUPERB (California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology) is initiating an I2P (Idea to Product) competition at its annual symposium to encourage “the integration of coursework, hands-on practice and participation in multidisciplinary, team-based research projects.” Sac State was invited to the pilot competition because of the University’s strong engineering and business programs.
The Hornets’ squad is bolstered by Adjunct Professor John Chapman, CEO of Stem Cell Partners. Smith met the locally based entrepreneur, who specializes in stem cell technology, a year ago and was eager to work closely with Sac State students in the laboratory. The professors’ felicitous pairing dovetails with CSUPERB’s philosophy “that the best way to engage, recruit and retain students in life science industry careers is to provide access to and opportunities in real world biotechnology research settings.”
Business students Michael Hebert and Rebecca Dalton.
College of Business Administration Professors Seung Bach and Anne Fuller identified the business team members, whose presentation will discuss how to market the device. The squad will square off against three other CSU teams from Jan. 5 through Jan. 7. The teams will make oral presentations to a panel of judges Jan. 5 who will provide feedback. On Jan. 7, the teams will make their final presentations.
The Sac State squad’s computer-controlled device is especially compelling because it could reduce the risk of amputation among diabetic patients with poor foot circulation. That is why Smith is bullish on the team’s chances.
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– Alan Miller