The team, known as TrachTech, won the prestigious award at the National Inventors Hall of Fame’s annual Collegiate Inventors Competition, where they were one of five winners awarded with The Arrow Electronics People’s Choice Award and its accompanying $2000 prize.
A member of TrachTech, Stephen Hanh, a Tulane biomedical engineering student had said of their future plans, “our current plan is to continue advancing our prototype and testing to effectively prove its efficacy and begin looking for ways to introduce our product to the market.”
The team of biomedical engineering students making up TrachTech submitted their invention, a specialized device to clean intubation tubes without “the risk of extubation” in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With ventilators in such high demand nationwide, the students recognized the vital need to ensure that these machines remain safe and clean.
As written in the submitted project description, “in at least 84% of intubation tubes, biofilm buildup occurs, restricting airflow and increasing the likelihood that patients will develop ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).” Their device being “specifically designed to efficiently remove biofilms and debris from the tubes and maintain continued airflow from ventilators during the cleaning process.”
The TrachTech team had recently completed a cohort with the National Science Foundation‘s LSU I-Corps Sites program over a six week period in which they learned about the commercialization processes involved in the invention industry. The program had included seminars and lectures on topics pertaining to copywriting, obtaining patents, licencing, customer identification, market researching, and potential opportunities for startups.
Hanh looked forward to the future of TrachTech’s decorated invention be saying “our current plan is to continue advancing our prototype and testing to effectively prove its efficacy and begin looking for ways to introduce our product to the market.”
Besides being awarded The People’s Choice Award from Arrow Electronics, TrachTech has also entered a technology competition sponsored by Tulane University. Tulane’s Novel Tech Challenge awards prizes of monetary value as well as notoriety for the best submitted ideas that improve education, health, environment, and urban infrastructure through the utilization of technology.
This challenge from the university is a collaboration between the School of Science and Engineering, the Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development. The challenge is also funded with generous support from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, allowing for Challenge winners to receive over $20,000 in prizes alongside additional financing from potential investors.
In its seventh year, the Challenge has been a notorious starting point from many new startup companies from Tulane University, allowing and enabling students to move their ideas out of the walls of the university and into the commercial realm. Recent startups taking advantage of this opportunity are the bioimaging company, Instapath as well as the regenerative medicine companies, BioAesthetics and D&P BioInnovations.
Co-director of the Novel Tech Challenge, Greg Stein told Tulane press of the annual event, “The Novel Tech Challenge provides students a chance to take an idea out of their heads and turn it into something real where they can show and explain it and convince potential investors to finance them or join their team.”
So, alongside their recent accomplishments at the LSU I-Corps Sites Program and the National Inventors Hall of Fame, TrachTech’s members: Morgan Bohrer, Stephen Hahn, Michael L’Ecuyer, Alex Verne and faculty advisor Mark Mondrinos set their inventive sights on future awards, acclaim, and above all a process of ventilator utilization that is save, clean, and effective.
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