On Saturday, Jan. 7, a team of Sacramento State undergraduate engineers and business students won the first Idea-to-Product (I2P) Early-Stage Commercialization competition put on by the California State University System Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB). The contest took place at CSUPERB’s 24th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium in Santa Clara. About 600 CSU faculty and students from the 23 campuses attended the symposium.
Sac State’s team (engineering students Neil Gee and Jose Camacho Jr., and business students Rebecca Dalton and Michael Hebert) had honed its project for several weeks. Engineering students Jakira Jekayinfa-Brown and Jeevan Bhungal attended the contest as well because they helped design the project.
The team, one of four from CSU selected to compete, created a computer-controlled device that prepares stem cells taken from diabetic patients for injection into the patients’ feet to improve their circulation. The device is especially compelling because it could reduce the risk of amputation among diabetic patients with poor foot circulation
“Our engineering students are working on the design as their two-semester capstone project,” Professor Warren Drew Smith notes, “so they had a functioning prototype ready to show at the competition.” The business team members discussed how to market the device.
CSUPERB’s competition was designed 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 squad squared off against three other CSU teams from Jan. 5 through Jan. 7, making its presentations to a panel of judges.
The win came as no surprise to Smith, professor of electrical and electronic engineering. He predicted Sac State’s victory several weeks ago. “I am very proud of our engineering and business undergraduate students,” he says. “This successful collaboration opens the door to even more Sac State engineering and business entrepreneurial biotechnology development to help patients in need.”
“I am very proud of the team,” says Emir Macari, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Sac State offered one of the first Biomedical Engineering programs in the entire western United States. This win validates all the work we have undertaken to bring back Biomedical Engineering to the prominence once held by Sac State.”
Sanjay Varshney, dean of the College of Business Administration, concurs. “This is yet another example of high-level intellectual capital that combines business acumen and technical expertise that fuel the economic engine of the region. It also provides hope for the region’s future—all coming from Sac State.”
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– Alan Miller