Student Innovations Inspire the Inventor in All of Us
By: Vivian Lee, M.D., Ph.D., MBA | May 16, 2012 11:29 AM
The event was the second annual Bench2Bedside competition, an idea that was conceived of and is run by students (under the faculty guidance of co-directer John Langell, M.D., assistant professor of surgery). This year, fourteen teams comprised of over 80 engineering, medical, and business students had $500 and six months to work together to identify a clinical problem and develop a solution.
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During the evening, student teams were showcasing their medical innovations vying for top prizes of $1,000 to $20,000 (a total of $70,000 in prize money was awarded). They enthusiastically made their pitches to judges that included venture capitalists, biotech entrepreneurs, and academic leaders from the schools of engineering, medicine, and business.
Across the room, you could hear the students eagerly talking about:
- Why their products needed to be developed. “Nurses ignore these monitors because they have way too many false alarms; we need to protect these babies.”
- How their engineering designs were most innovative. “With this simple adaptor, your iPhone becomes a laryngoscopic camera.”
- And, most importantly, why they were the best investment. “With manufacturing costs of only $12 and a target of 70% of the market share, we could realize billions in net profit.”
“That’s why we need all 3 disciplines,” Matt Sorensen, medical school student leader of the program and biomedical engineering graduate, explained. “Without the medical students, we don’t get the clinical problem. Without the engineers, we can’t get the prototypes. And without the business students, we don’t get the funding. Ultimately, the collaboration of these disciplines and learning to cross the lines of 'your speciality' allows you to think about problems in new ways to get a better solution.” It’s clear that these students intuitively understand the benefits of collaboration. But what also struck me was how much this resonated with our faculty. More than 100 faculty members volunteered to be mentors to these students—more than were even needed. Which makes me believe that these students have tapped into something at the University of Utah that we need to keep fostering: thinking outside the box, working together, and coming up with brilliant solutions.I suspect there’s a little bit of an inventor in all of us. The key is to acknowledge it and cultivate it.
I wonder, what is the greatest clinical problem in your area? What might be a solution?
I’d love to hear from you. (click on the comment link below to add a comment)