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Life Science Inventions of NJIT Students Take Top Prizes in TechQuest

First place winners at NJIT's TechQuest/Innovation Day.

Three life science inventions that may one day heal wounds faster, improve surgical outcomes and build stronger muscles took $10,500 in prize money for further research and development at NJIT’s recent TechQuest/Innovation Day.  The inventions competed against 30 developed by undergraduate teams.

TechQuest was the brainchild of a retired Honeywell scientist, James F. Stevenson, PhD, of Morristown.  Inspired by thoughts of passing on knowledge while helping young inventors succeed, Stevenson also funded the program.   

The NJIT event resembled a similar one still held annually at the University of Wisconsin, where Stevenson attended graduate school.  The generous donor worked feverishly for months to develop the program with NJIT Associate Vice President of Technology Development Judith Sheft and Assistant Professor Michael Ehrlich.  It debuted last Friday.  Judges along with Stevenson included scientist Richard Bye, Morristown, also a recent Honeywell retiree; current Honeywell Senior Scientist, Martin Baker, of Budd Lake; NJIT Professor Gordon Thomas; Associate Professor Grace Wang; and Assistant Professor Cesar Bandera.

The three winning projects offered the following:

A novel hemostatic wound dressing, ChitO2-Clot developed by four NJIT biomedical engineering majors, took the $6,000 first place price.  The cost- effective dressing will facilitate coagulation/clot formation while providing oxygen to the wound, said team leader, senior George Ulsh, Mullica Hill.  Other team members were Dung Le, Mullica Hill; Maxwell McDermott, Clinton and Jennifer Moy, North Caldwell.  “The product is composed of a micro/nano sized fibrous mat made of chitosan that is doped with per fluorocarbons, an oxygen carrier,” said Ulsh.  “The user packs a hemorrhaging wound with ChitO2-Clot to stop the bleeding.  The chitosan in ChitO2-Clot rapidly absorbs the blood in the wound bed and forms a gelatinous clot that fills the empty void.  The gelatinous clot filling the void in the tissue applies pressure to the damaged vasculature, which prevents further bleeding.”

My Own Physical Therapist/Personal Trainer (My OPT), a compression sleeve to record electrical signals from a rehabilitation patient or a strength trainer's muscle, took the $3,000 second place prize.  Seniors Ali Mustafa and Hassan Muhammad, both of Clifton, were the inventors.  “The device uses previously acquired data to calculate when muscle fatigue sets in,” said Mustafa, also in ADHC.  “It finds the "sweet spot" for optimal muscle building and outputs that data in an easy-to-read and encouraging fashion to a smart phone application and to a physician.  While exercising for personal strength training or undergoing rehabilitative exercise, the piezoelectric material in the sleeve generates power that performs all the calculations providing for a convenient, easy-to-use, and independent strength training and/or muscle rehabilitation device.”

A multiple stitch producing device developed by undergrads Margaret Christian, of Lake Hopatcong, Alexis Ipekci, Pooja Sheth and Luis Urdanivia took the $1500 third prize.  The solution highlights a new surgical instrument to reduce operating time from 60 to 40 minutes, while saving $122 per minute of operating room costs.  The device will reduce complications, increase surgical precision and simplify a common procedure.  Instead of making many stitches, the patent-pending device makes multiple simultaneous stitches.  Prize money will be used to help bring these inventions to market.

Several students behind the winning entries are participants in the Interdisciplinary Design Studio (IDS) a unique program offered through NJIT’s Albert Dorman Honors College that teaches students how to become innovative entrepreneurs.

One of the nation’s leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT’s multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of 11,400 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $121 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT has a $1.74 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey.