News @ the Beach

Cal State Long Beach Engineering Innovation Challenge Students Create New Tool for Doctors

Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB’s) annual Innovation Challenge recognized Ph.D. candidate in Engineering and applied mathematics Shahab Taherian and his InFluidS design team on Thursday in the Pointe of the Walter Pyramid for their creation of a non-invasive diagnostic tool for pulmonary physicians.

Innovation Challenge photo

At the Innovation Challenge were (l-r) Dean of the College of Engineering Forouzan Golshani, Shahab Taherian, Jeremy Bonifacio, Chairman of the Innovation Challenge Advisory Committee Mike Baghramian and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering Hamid Rahai.

Four student teams competed to win up to $50,000 in value to start their own businesses in a contest sponsored by the colleges of engineering and business administration. The competition was open to any CSULB student.

“Each team that submitted a Letter of Intent received help from a mentor and we received 24 Letters of Intent,” said Barbara Barcon, a College of Engineering advisory council member. “Out of those 24, we received 16 full business plans.” Barcon said of the 16, seven were chosen as finalists and a group of judges chose the final four. Taherian’s winning team will receive $10,000 in seed money and an additional set of services that can be worth up to $40,000 which can include office space and legal assistance.

Barcon applauded this year’s attendance of about 100 including campus dignitaries and community leaders. “It was inspiring to see how the young new entrepreneurs are with great ideas and how a lot of hard work helped to put together a comprehensive business plan,” she said.  

Ph.D. candidate in engineering and applied mathematics Taherian, who plans to graduate in the fall of 2014, led InfluidS. “At InFluidS, we bring clarity and insight to pulmonary physicians’ most complex diagnostic challenges through easy, accurate and reliable computer simulations,” he said.

The Iranian-born Taherian, a Los Angeles resident, believes his Innovation Challenge participation was a great opportunity and he feels honored that the judges recognized the value that InFluidS can bring to the medical community.  “Due to the non-invasive nature of our software, we see a great potential for fast adaptation in hospitals,” he said. He extended special thanks to generous support from the College of Engineering faculty. 

Final Four team leader David Chen was proud of his group “Uncharted Innovations.” Chen, on his way to a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial design by the spring of 2015, said he and his teammates, all junior and senior industrial design majors, worked hard to develop the ultimate travel toothbrush. “We designed a toothbrush unparalleled in its portability, convenience, durability and, of course, style,” said the Long Beach resident, who emigrated from China to the San Gabriel Valley where he attended Arcadia High School.

Chen praised his team for their mix of talent and teamwork. “We are some of the most promising young designers in the CSULB Industrial Design program,” he said. “Having endured the program together for the last four years, we have a level of camaraderie and teamwork that I don’t imagine most teams can match. And it shows by how much we’ve gotten done in the amount of time we’ve had.”

Devising a business plan was a problem all its own. “I don’t have a formal business background, so in order to learn the ‘how,’ I’ve attended numerous workshops by the Long Beach SBDC and the Orange County chapter of SCORE,” he said. “I’ve logged over 2,000 miles on my car in the six months just driving to these. The hardest part was the financials, as I had to teach myself fundamental accounting over winter break. But every CEO should know their numbers, so it was worth it.”

Senior management major Isaac Pineda partnered with CSULB alumnus Alexander Gracia, who graduated in 2011 with a degree in international business and operations management, to create “TooferMe,” a multifunctional leash company. “It was our chance to unveil an innovative product that successfully satisfies every pet walker’s needs,” said Pineda, on his way to an undergraduate degree in the fall of 2014 with a double concentration in Business Management as well as Operations and Supply Chain Management. Pineda is a Huntington Park resident and a graduate of Huntington Park High School.

Pineda is convinced of “TooferMe’s” commercial potential. “The $55 billion pet industry has stood the test of time and has been able to achieve continuous growth even through periods of economic recession,” he said. “The commercial potential of our product is further reinforced by moving trends in family size, projected growth in pet ownership and in progressive standard of living statistics.”

Darin Koblick, owner and team leader of Orbital Dynamics, LLC, is enrolled in the Engineering and Industrial Applied Mathematics joint doctoral program between CSULB and the Claremont Graduate University. “We offer a marketplace providing toolboxes and algorithms coded in MATLAB to the education, commercial and government communities,” said Koblick, a Redondo Beach resident. “Our concept includes a patent pending e-commerce interface enabling easy download purchasing of astrodynamic, electro-optic, image processing, and numerical analysis routines.”

Koblick, from Wayzata, Minn., is a graduate of Wayzata High School and earned his bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado before joining CSULB in 2009 to complete his master of science degree in aerospace engineering.

The “Orbital Dynamics” business plan offered plenty of challenges. “We created our business plan last year when our team met for the first time,” he recalled.  “Subsequently our team met over many weekends at the CSULB library and, with the help of our mentors (Bruce Sparks, Kevin Peterson and Eric Schwartz), we carefully crafted and refined our concept. After several iterations, we converged on something we feel has tremendous potential.”