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June 4, 2019

Latest National Academy of Inventors results showcase range of innovations

Arizona State University has moved into the top 10 of all universities worldwide for U.S. patents awarded in 2018. The university jumped to 10th place from 17th in 2017, according to a new report by the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. 

ASU tied with the University of Michigan for the No. 10 spot on the list. Other universities listed in the top 10 include the University of CaliforniaIn this ranking, The University of California represents the entire UC system, which includes UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz., Stanford University, MIT and the University of Texas. ASU earned 130 patents in 2018, up from 100 the previous year. 

“The top 10 world ranking in patents is a reflection of ASU’s vibrant, innovative and entrepreneurial culture with a focus on impacting society,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development and chief research innovation officer at ASU. “I’m incredibly proud of the contributions and achievements of our faculty, researchers and students. This shows what can be accomplished when you empower the academic community to engage in use-inspired research focused on societal challenges.”

The National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association have published the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents report annually since 2013. The report utilizes data acquired from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to highlight the important role patents play in university research and innovation. The rankings are compiled by calculating the number of utility patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that list a university as the first assignee on the issued patent.

“These rankings demonstrate that ASU researchers are producing high-potential inventions at a world-class rate,” said Augustine “Augie” Cheng, CEO and chief legal officer of Skysong Innovations, ASU’s exclusive technology transfer and intellectual property management organization. “As these technologies move into commercial application, ASU research is kick-starting dozens of new startup companies that are attracting millions of dollars in venture funding and helping to power Arizona’s economy.” 

Among the 130 patents awarded to ASU in 2018 are technologies for flexible batteries, an immunosignature-based diagnosis of cancer in dogs and a handheld device that can read your metabolism on the spot. 

Flexible batteries

Batteries have been very useful over the years providing energy to remote areas where and when it is needed most. But a limiting factor of batteries is their relatively rigid structure. Now a team of ASU researchers have developed a way to make deformable batteries based on the Japanese paper-folding art of origami. The new batteries promise a wide range of uses where unconventional designs require a flexible battery. 

In a demonstration, a prototype battery was sewn into an elastic wristband that was attached to a smart watch. The battery fully powered the watch and its functions — including playing video — as the band was being stretched.

“This type of battery could potentially be used to replace the bulky and rigid batteries that are limiting the development of compact wearable electronic devices,” said Hanqing Jiang, a professor in ASU’s School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy who led the development team.

Dog cancer diagnostics

Our canine “best friends” continue to be affected by cancer. In fact, cancer is the No. 1 cause of illness and death in older dogs.

Through a patent, ASU scientist Stephen Johnston is developing new ways of diagnosing and preventing cancer in canines. Johnston and his colleagues at the Biodesign Institute have developed a microchip-based technology called immunosignature diagnosis that can rapidly and comprehensively measure an individual’s vaccine response, promising to take much of the initial guesswork out of predicting effective vaccines.

The idea of the work is to reshape the way we approach treating cancer in dogs by preventing it before it starts.

Recently, Johnston — also a professor in the School of Life Sciences — began a large-scale dog cancer vaccine trial, which will target several cancers common to dogs and is slated to run over five years. And if his approach can work in dogs, the same technology could be applied to people, too.

Reading metabolism

Breezing is a consumer-friendly technology that can track a user’s metabolism. It is a device that measures metabolic data, including oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, with the idea that the user can modify her or his activity to either lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight during daily activities. 

The wearable device provides precise assessments of a person’s resting metabolic rate using sensor technology based on research conducted at the Biodesign Institute. The technology provides data to help customize nutrition, lifestyle and exercise plans. 

Breezing was founded by N.J. Tao, director of the Biodesign Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors, and Erica Forzani, an associate professor at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. 

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ASU internet of things entrepreneurs create a wealth of smart stuff

May 28, 2019

What happens when you combine the opportunities created through "internet of things" technologies with Arizona State University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem? You get a proliferation of internet of things devices that can improve our health, enhance our security and increase our overall well-being. The following are a sampling of smart technologies developed by ASU faculty and students.

Smart, safe pool gates

ASU engineering students Kevin Hale and Grayson Allen wanted to design a product for pool gates to help secure pool areas and reduce drownings. This is critically important in Arizona, where child drownings occur at nearly twice the national rate.

GateSense lets users control who can come and go. Animation courtesy of Halen

The students launched Halen, a startup company, and developed GateSense, a technology that allows users to lock and unlock gates from anywhere through a mobile app or voice-activated speakers. In addition to pool gates, the product can be used on side gates, patio gates or RV gates. Users can also create schedules for when the gate should be locked and get notifications when there is activity.

GateSense can operate as a stand-alone unit or include a keypad to share an access code, which can be changed at any time. Users can conveniently and securely allow service providers to enter without a physical key or permanent access code. This application could also assist individuals renting homes for vacations.

The company is currently beta-testing GateSense to ensure that a functional and reliable product goes to market.

“We envision consumers using this product as a way to have greater security and peace of mind knowing that they can check the status of their gate at any time,” said Hale.

Hale, a software engineering major, and Allen, a manufacturing engineering major, received their bachelor’s degrees from ASU in spring 2019. They received startup support through ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation programs. 

Electronic pill to monitor health

Winner of the Skysong Innovations faculty startup competition, Vantronics was launched by Hanqing Jiang, a professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy. Jiang and his colleagues have developed an edible electronic device that can monitor gastric pH levels. This information can be important to patients with disorders such as acid reflux. Currently available techniques for monitoring gastric pH levels are invasive, uncomfortable and require administration by a health professional.

Vantronics’ edible electronics are the size of a typical pill, so patients can easily swallow them. Built-in communication systems within the pill allow the device to communicate with outside devices (such as a cellphone) to provide real-time gastric pH levels. All of the materials in the pill eventually dissolve inside the body.

Vantronics’ edible device can monitor gastric pH levels. llustration by Charles Shockley

Know your metabolic rate

Breezing has developed the only mobile diagnostic device that can measure metabolic data at gold-standard levels of precision. The company was founded in 2011 by N.J. Tao, director of the Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors in the ASU Biodesign Institute, and Erica Forzani, a researcher in the center and associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.

Breezing Pro is a metabolic tracker for health care professionals. Photo courtesy of Breezing

“The biggest breakthrough is our proprietary chemical sensor technology, which allows us to perform metabolic assessment more easily and cost effectively than any other solution on the market,” Tao said.

The company is seeking FDA registration for its technology, with which it plans to aggressively pursue obesity-related chronic disease treatment markets including Type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease.

Breezing was named a winner of the Arizona Innovation Challenge by the Arizona Commerce Authority in December 2018. The company is preparing to launch its second-generation device, Breezing Pro, later this year. Breezing Pro has been designed specifically as a diagnostic device for health care professionals, incorporating much of the feedback received from customers of the first-generation product.

Putting idle resources to work

Smartiply enables resource sharing among devices in close proximity. Photo courtesy of Smartiply

Smartiply, co-founded in 2015 by Junshan Zhang, a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, is a high-tech fog computing startup company delivering boosted network connectivity and embedded artificial intelligence for internet of things devices.

It specializes in the internetworking of physical devices, sensors, gateways and smart devices, enabling a sharing economy by leveraging idle resources on connected devices. Currently, the company has built two products that enable resource sharing (communication, sensing and storage) among devices in close proximity.

“Smartiply teams are currently building an IoT platform that applies fog computing and machine learning technologies to solve difficult problems faced by IoT applications,” Zhang said.

Cloud-free data processing

Teuvonet Technologies, led by Asim Roy, a professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business, has developed a small, self-contained “system on a chip.” Unlike other IoT technologies that process data through the cloud, Teuvonet Technologies’ system processes data internally for increased convenience and security.

It is designed to gather large amounts of data through sensors and to process that data in real time to make predictions. The system can use the analysis to change the actions of the sensor or convey the information to another system, such as a mobile device.

Applications could include predicting component failure in aircrafts, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation or infrastructure, or predicting the onset of medical problems or failure in medical equipment. Teuvonet is working on a version of the technology that can be programmed in the field based on desired application. Once this is complete, it plans to partner with advanced technology companies to create new products that would learn in real time from streaming sensor data at the edge of IoT.

Teuvonet’s system on a chip processes large amounts of data internally. Photo courtesty of Teuvonet Technologies

These are just a few of the novel products and services that ASU faculty, students and staff are creating, with many more on the horizon. Do you have a big idea for a new product or service? The following resources at ASU can help you:

ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation connects students, faculty, staff and community members with the information, resources and people to help turn their ideas into reality.

Skysong Innovations is ASU’s exclusive technology transfer and intellectual property management organization. Skysong Innovations can help you protect your IP, apply for a patent, assess whether your invention has market potential and connect with companies who may want to license your technology.

Written by Madison Arnold and Jean Clare Sarmiento

ASU engineering boot camp prepares students to make societal impact

May 28, 2019

How do first-year engineering students learn to create value for society while addressing industry’s rapidly evolving technology needs?

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University is preparing future engineers to value entrepreneurship and make societal impacts through innovative, immersive experiences like the Engineering Futures Technology and Entrepreneurial Mindset Skills Boot Camp, a weeklong residential program delivered at ASU with the help of corporate partners. Students at the Entrepreneurial Mindset Skills Boot Camp, a weeklong residential program delivered at ASU. Download Full Image

At a recent boot camp, 41 rising sophomores learned to build, fix and adapt fully-functioning autonomous robots with guidance from professors, industry professionals and nine student mentors.

The program was created by the Engineering Futures program and the Fulton Schools of Engineering Career Center to help rising sophomores become internship-ready. All participants were awarded a $300 scholarship for their continued persistence in engineering in fall 2019.

“Our students are really eager to gain experience and get internships. That’s one of the first questions they ask at orientation,” said Robin Hammond, the founding director of the Fulton Schools Career Center.

Engineering Futures, directed by Tirupalavanam Ganesh, Tooker Professor and assistant dean of engineering education, provides a support structure to help engineering students thrive and persist to graduation. Funding from the National Science Foundation helps students develop their engineering identity, which is facilitated through experiential activities such as this boot camp.

Through a build and ideation process, student teams created an operable prototype for an autonomous food delivery system and a related business idea, which they pitched to a panel of industry professionals. And the end of the week, they made final presentations based on the feedback they had received throughout the week.

Boot camp participants also learned the value of a customer-centric design process and were challenged to articulate their newfound skills on a technical résumé and in an internship interview.

From left to right: Josephine Tang, Sarah Xi, Anfernee Tsaipi and Xochitl Roman interact with subject matter experts during the customer discovery process.

Putting new skills to work

To bring the program to life, ASU partnered with the company Texas Instruments, a strategic education partner with Engineering Futures.  

Jason Rubadue, an engineer with Texas Instruments, led the build and explained the company’s willingness to support Engineering Futures.

"TI is proud to support ASU and the Engineering Futures program,” said Rubadue. “ASU is a top school and we like to hire its students. If the graduates don’t end up at TI, then we’d at least like them to be aware of and use TI when they become Engineers at other companies.”

Rubadue also has a goal to help students understand that Texas Instruments makes more than calculators, the TI is an innovative global semiconductor corporation that provides resources and tools to allow people to build robots, among many other useful technologies for society.

Texas Instruments provided each boot camp participant with a Texas Instruments Robotics System Learning Kit (TI-RSLK). Each TI-RSLK contained all the necessary components to assemble robots. Students had to learn to solder and use a crimping tool with special connectors, in addition to wiring and programming their robots after assembly. 

Rubadue appreciated watching the students “get their hands dirty” and was thrilled to see the students’ joy when they persevered to get their robots to work.

“Creating something out of scratch that now has completely independent functions; that’s something really awesome,” said Sameer Channar, a rising computer science sophomore. “And testing it to see how the different iterations got better and better over time, is speaking to how we grow in ability over time.”

Jessica Dirks, another rising sophomore who is double majoring in human systems engineering and robotics, liked the collaboration required in the building and testing portion of the program.

“Because of the company of peers and being able to see how other people were thinking about it, I’ve also grown and shifted in my own mindset,” Dirks said, which helped her to troubleshoot and fix the problems with her robot.

“As they’re building the kits, they'll realize that things don't always go smoothly,” Rubadue said. “That is part of learning how to be an engineer — to solve problems as they arrive and to think of imaginative solutions. 

According to Rubadue, the robotics kit is only the beginning. This is the starter kit, it is designed for future add-ons to make it a more complex system. Texas Instruments gave students the TI-RSLKs and 10 sensors for use at the boot camp and to keep so students can continue to tinker, make and innovate.

“As they move through their education, the robot will then become something that they start adding other things to,” he said, referencing possible addons like cameras or radar chips, which students might add to direct the robots where to go and enable them to be autonomous. 

Employing the entrepreneurial mindset

In addition to new technical skills, students in the boot camp were introduced to a new approach to problem-solving with a customer or community in mind, called the entrepreneurial mindset. This mindset is made up of the three Cs: curiosity, connections and creating value.

Miles Mabey, student entrepreneurial catalyst with the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network, describes it as “a way of going about problems that is then fueled by your technical skill set.”

KEEN is a grant-funded network of faculty members across the country who promote this kind of thinking in order to help engineering students be the best engineers they can be.

Mabey led a workshop on using the entrepreneurial mindset, in which he addressed the importance of learning who you’re designing a product for and developing pitches to better discuss complex technical matters in an easy-to-understand way.

“The pitch is a powerful communication tool,” Mabey said. “Companies look for people who can communicate their product value effectively.”

With the idea of effective communication and creative problem-solving in mind, Fulton Schools lecturer Anthony Kuhn said part of his role in the program was “making sure we’re keeping (students’) minds open to different possibilities. Just because we gave them a robot doesn’t mean every problem will be solved by a robot.”

In another portion of the boot camp, Kuhn challenged participants to use the entrepreneurial mindset to develop business models for an automated food delivery service for the ASU campus. The students were challenged to differentiate themselves from an imaginary competitor with essentially the same product.

They also had to manage input from a CEO and consider feedback from client interviews during the customer discovery portion of the program.

At the end of the week, students pitched their proposals to a panel of subject matter experts, which included a robotics and autonomous vehicles expert with a mechanical engineering background from ASU Luminosity, a regional manager from Local Motors, a traffic engineer from the city of Tempe, a data and technology analyst from the city of Gilbert and two business intelligence developers from Starbucks. 

Students plan their consumer-first food delivery system at the recent engineering boot camp.

The experts shared insights on simplicity, accessibility and safety — all of these with the convenience of the consumer in mind. It’s this type of thinking that prepares students for the workplace and “gives them the confidence to launch into the next opportunity,” Hammond said.

For Hammond, who is helping prepare students for internships and professional jobs at the Fulton Schools Career Center, it’s important that the school is not only teaching students technical skills, but also enabling them to learn about themselves.

“Why do you want to be an engineer or professional in this field, and what do you want to do with it in the future?” Hammond asked. “That is a big part of your career and questions we explore — not just what you’re paid to do, but what unique attributes will you bring to the world?”

And Ganesh emphasized, “working with community and industry collaborators around our common agenda of preparing students who bring diversity of thought and experience ready to participate in a community of discoverers in engineering is the Fulton Difference.”  

The goal of Engineering Futures is to open up opportunities for both personal and professional growth in the field of engineering. 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers 1744539 and 1834166. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Written by Summer Sorg, Science & Technology Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

ASU lecturer named 2019 Rising Star by Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network

May 28, 2019

Amy Trowbridge has made a career out of preparing students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University to rise to the challenge of solving global issues using an entrepreneurial mindset.

Since the university adopted the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) mission in 2016, the senior lecturer and director of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program at ASU has championed other Fulton Schools faculty to embrace and exercise the entrepreneurial mindset to teach students to make positive societal impacts. Amy Trowbridge (second from left) works with Grand Challenge Scholars Program students. Amy Trowbridge (second from left), a senior lecturer and director of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Arizona State University, works with incoming Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering students to develop skills to become Grand Challenge Scholars. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU Download Full Image

Now the Kern Family Foundation has recognized Trowbridge’s efforts by naming her the 2019 KEEN Rising Star. The award is given to individuals with less than 10 years of faculty experience who demonstrate a record of achieving alignment with KEEN’s mission by implementing inventive, impactful, inspiring and integrated applications of the entrepreneurial mindset.

“Since joining the faculty, Amy has been a remarkable advocate for Fulton Schools students, leading them to create value and impact as they emerge as global problem-solvers through the Grand Challenge Scholars Program,” said Kyle Squires, dean of the Fulton Schools. “Being recognized with the 2019 KEEN Rising Star award is terrific validation of how Amy’s ideas, dedication and leadership continue to make this program a success, and we applaud this outstanding accomplishment.”

In its first year, the KEEN Rising Star award went to three individuals: Trowbridge; Justin Henriques, an associate professor at James Madison University; and Sarah Wodin-Schwartz, an assistant teaching professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Trowbridge, who earned the top honor, will be awarded a $25,000 grant from the Kern Family Foundation to advance KEEN’s mission. She will also be recognized and sponsored at the 2020 KEEN National Conference. Additionally, she will be presented with the KEEN Rising Star guitar. Henriques and Wodin-Schwartz will be presented with $10,000 grants at the conference along with their awards.

A KEEN Rising Star is driven by an entrepreneurial mindset; pursues innovative opportunities that create value for others; improves the hearts and minds of students, peers and communities; ensures future generations have access and opportunities; and helps others replicate and scale ideas worth spreading.

“I am honored to be selected as the Rising Star among the excellent faculty who make up the KEEN network,” Trowbridge said. “I am grateful to receive this recognition for the work that I have been doing to encourage entrepreneurial mindset development in students at ASU and beyond through efforts with first-year engineering courses and the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program.”

Trowbridge’s teaching style has always incorporated the entrepreneurial mindset as a way to focus students on creating engineering solutions that have value for the people they serve, an important component of the Kern Family Foundation, KEEN Network and the ASU charter.

“An entrepreneurial mindset is at the heart of engineering solutions to global challenges. Amy Trowbridge’s commitment and insight provide her students with tools not only to conceptualize a sustainable, built environment that meets our societal needs, but also to go out make it reality,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “From day one in her classroom, students are using collaboration and innovation to design our future.”

Through the NAE GCSP at ASU, Trowbridge uses the entrepreneurial mindset to guide students to create meaningful solutions to the NAE’s Grand Challenges of the 21st century. Trowbridge has been involved with ASU’s GCSP since 2013 and has been the director of the program since 2014. In that time, she has identified and implemented more opportunities to expand the entrepreneurial mindset in ASU’s GCSP and at other institutions and schools within the KEEN Network, connecting communities that are all working toward the same efforts.

“GCSP is preparing engineers who identify opportunities and utilize a broad skill set and perspective to develop solutions to societal problems that help people and improve lives,” Trowbridge said. “Students need to have an entrepreneurial mindset in order to identify those opportunities and make connections between culture, policy and other societal factors to develop solutions that create real value for society. Once I recognized this synergy, I found ways to further enhance entrepreneurial mindset development in my GCSP students at ASU from the start through our first-year GCSP course.”

Trowbridge is working with other ASU faculty members to develop a three-week-long Summer Immersion Program for GCSP students at ASU and from more than 10 institutions across the country. Participants will research, design and develop a solution on a Grand Challenge theme as part of a multi-institution team. Aimed at early undergraduates, the summer program has huge potential to cement the entrepreneurial mindset in engineering students who will take these ideas to the workplace.

Senior Lecturer Haolin Zhu, who contributed to Trowbridge’s nomination, noted her innovative efforts to empower first-year Fulton Schools students have been proven to “develop a systems perspective about engineering in various ways,” as measured by a research study about FSE 150: Perspectives on Grand Challenges for Engineering.

“(Students) are able to make connections between society and technology as a result of this course,” Zhu noted in Trowbridge’s nomination letter. “More specifically, students are able to recognize value creation and other societal impacts of technologies, several societal factors that influence engineering solutions and the need for applying multiple disciplines and perspectives when developing solutions for complex societal problems.”

James Collofello, vice dean for academic and student affairs and principal investigator for the ASU Kern Grant, says Trowbridge’s enhancements to GCSP and first-year courses are sustainable and institutionalized — enabling concepts of the entrepreneurial mindset and creating value for society to reach the more than 22,400 students in the Fulton Schools and more than 3,000 new students each year.

As part of the ASU Kern Grant, Trowbridge leads efforts to encourage entrepreneurial mindset development in GCSP students at ASU and across the country through educational opportunities for students, resources for faculty and connections with industry. She is leading the development of an entrepreneurial-mindset-focused “GCSP toolkit” that includes an open-access online Grand Challenges course and curricular modules, a Grand Challenges Speaker Series in partnership with the NAE, the GCSP Summer Immersion Program and an industry workshop focused on developing the value proposition of GCSP.

Trowbridge also uses the entrepreneurial mindset to improve her own teaching methods and to learn how to better serve her students. Drawing from the KEEN Integrating Curriculum with Entrepreneurial Mindset workshop she attended, Trowbridge brought the concept to ASU as a new type of faculty workshop. Trowbridge continually assesses her teaching approach. She considers her stakeholders and draws from her own experiences to develop valuable content, activities and lessons for students. This has allowed her to take a deeper look into how her classroom strategies can meet student needs. 

Trowbridge doesn’t keep all she’s learned through developing ASU programs and activities to herself and her home institution. She actively shares her successful strategies on EngineeringUnleashed.com, at KEEN national conferences and at NAE GCSP annual conferences. Her contributions to KEEN resources and GCSP strategies have been adopted by other institutions, widening the impact of her innovative approaches to implementing the entrepreneurial mindset.

She also noticed a potential connection between the KEEN network and the national GCSP program, which led to the formation of the KEEN GCSP subnet that has broadened participation and impact of both programs.

Trowbridge is still deciding how to use the KEEN Rising Star grant to further her efforts, but she says she’s excited about having the opportunity to explore additional ways to have a real impact on students’ mindsets.

“I plan to continue to help students to develop the interdisciplinary entrepreneurial mindset they need to work on challenges society faces today and create real value for people,” she said. “I’d like to provide opportunities that will enable students to explore, learn and continue their development as engineers within and outside the classroom.”

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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Mayo Clinic and ASU MedTech Accelerator's first cohort gets expert insights and industry knowledge

May 21, 2019

An interlocking breathing tube that prevents death by accidental removal. An app that provides peace of mind concerning your sexual health. A wearable health-monitoring device that tracks movement in real time to expedite healing and prevent further wrist injuries.

These are just a few of the novel ideas coming out of the Mayo Clinic and ASU MedTech Accelerator, a collaboration between Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University designed specifically to provide early-stage medical device and health care technology companies with personalized business development plans and collaborative opportunities to accelerate go-to-market and investment possibilities.

The program began accepting applications back in January and held its official launch April 22 at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, where the six companies chosen to participate in the first cohort presented their elevator pitches to a room full of Mayo and ASU personnel.

“Those of you who know about ASU know that we’re the No. 1 university in innovation in the country. So to be partnering with the No. 1 hospital to collaborate on medical innovation is very exciting for us,” Rick Hall — the program’s co-managing partner of the accelerator and ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation clinical professor — said before introducing the participants.

The event also served to kick off the accelerator’s two-week immersion program, in which participants spent 10 days immersed in the ASU and Mayo Clinic ecosystems, learning directly from subject matter experts about such topics as human-centered design, FDA regulation and reimbursement strategy. In addition, each afternoon, participants had time to meet with mentors to identify potential collaborators. 

“One of the key differentiators of the Mayo Clinic and ASU MedTech Accelerator is its extensive access to experts and focus on business development; participants interacted with 60 mentors and experts on average during a two-week immersion”, said Timmeko Love, Mayo Clinic’s co-managing partner of the accelerator.

In total, the accelerator will last six–12 months, depending on the unique development plan for each participant, with incentives offered to participants to stay and work in Arizona. Of the companies in the inaugural cohort, one is local to the Valley, two hail from Canada and three are based in U.S. cities from San Francisco to Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

April 25 was designated as “Community Day.” Participants gathered that afternoon at Galvanize, a tech-focused coworking space in downtown Phoenix, to network and hear from a panel of leaders from the greater Phoenix startup ecosystem — including Christie Kerner, StartupAZ Foundation director of venture development; Brad Halvorsen, Flinn Foundation executive vice president; and Darryn Jones, Greater Phoenix Economic Council vice president of emerging technologies.

The panel, which was organized and moderated by Love, shared invaluable advice and industry knowledge specific to the Phoenix area, such as the ease of attracting talent and the supportive entrepreneurial culture.

“Companies can start here, but they can also scale here,” Jones assured the participants.

Life365, a digital health remote patient-monitoring company, is one of three companies that cohort member Kent Dicks has founded in the Phoenix area.

An ASU alumnus, Dicks was blunt about why he thinks the Valley is a great place for startups. Not only is it a supportive environment, it’s cheaper than other startup cities and “if you want media attention, you can fight (for it) with 500 people in the Bay Area or 10 people in Arizona,” he said.

Elyse Blazevich, COO and CFO of Securisyn Medical, was impressed with the access the accelerator afforded her team in such a short time.

“We’ve been here less than a week and already the doors that have been opened to us to some of the world’s best and brightest is incredible,” she said.

Securisyn Medical hopes to reduce the incidence of unplanned extubation — the accidental removal of a breathing tube — with the world’s first integrated tube stabilization system that utilizes an interlocking design to ensure the tube doesn’t slip out.

Every year in the United States, unplanned extubation causes 33,000 preventable deaths.

“If you don’t have an airway, you don’t have a patient,” Blazevich said.

President and CTO of BioInteractive Technologies Gautam Sadarangani got into the biomedical space after losing 150 pounds in college with the help of a wearable health monitor. His company’s take on the technology, a wristband called TENZR, seeks to empower the roughly 20 million people in North America who suffer from RSI (repetitive strain injury) in their wrists and hands by tracking movement in real time and relaying the information to a physician who can suggest therapies and better track a patient’s progress and adherence to recommendations.

BioInteractive Technologies is currently based in Canada, but Sadarangani said the company wouldn’t rule out the possibility of expansion in the Valley.

“We’ve been extremely impressed with the ecosystem here, the access to talent and the significant amount of venture capital,” he said.

The Mayo Clinic and ASU MedTech Accelerator will soon start accepting applications for the next two-week immersion program, to take place in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The complete list of spring 2019 participants

BioInteractive Technologies: TENZR
Lukas-Karim Merhi, CEO, and Gautam Sadarangani, CTO
TENZR, a patent-pending wristband that detects the use of the hand, helps people that have suffered from a hand injury regain the use of their hand faster and more effectively.

Pascal Zuta, CEO
GYANT offers a suite of asynchronous virtual-care solutions that allows health care providers to increase patient satisfaction scores, reduce costs and aid the health care workforce via point-of-care solutions.

Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, CEO
Hexoskin offers a line of smart clothes that incorporate body sensors into comfortable garments for precise health tracking.

Kent Dicks, CEO
Life365 is a digital health infrastructure development and solution delivery company that provides software for patients to remotely interface with physicians.

Ken Mayer, founder and CEO
SAFE leverages digital technology to provide a virtual health care platform and provider network that empowers patients to consult with sexual health specialists, find and book STD testing and access a trusted source for clinical information.

Securisyn Medical
Elyse Blazevich, COO and CFO, and Mark Bruning, president and CEO
Securisyn Medical hopes to reduce the incidence of unplanned extubation with a tube stabilization system that utilizes an interlocking design to ensure the tube doesn’t slip out.

Top photo: Elyse Blazevich and Mark Bruning (right) executives with Securisyn Medical from the Denver area, talk with Rahul Rao of Desert Platforms medical device consultancy at the ASU/Mayo MedTech Accelerator's Community Day on April 25 at the Galvanize coworking space in downtown Phoenix. Securisyn is taking its tracheal intubation device through the FDA approval process and is hoping to begin testing on living subjects very soon. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

EPICS Elite Pitch Competition expands impact of student projects

May 16, 2019

The Engineering Projects in Community Service program, better known as EPICS, in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University provides students the knowledge, funding and opportunity to work on real projects with actual clients who are facing social or environmental problems. Through these projects, students gain real-world experience and acquire skills that are highly valued when they enter the job market.

This year, the Fulton Schools held the first ever EPICS Elite Pitch Competition with a total of eight teams selected to compete out of the more than 40 EPICS projects currently in progress. Each team developed a five-minute pitch detailing their solution, its implementation, and their plans to grow and scale their ideas. Three students test water quality Water in Peru team members (from left to right) Samantha Stone, Daniel Hoop and Brett Goldsmith examine water quality. This EPICS team, which is working to solve the global problem of water purification monitoring, earned first place and $1,500 at the first EPICS Elite Pitch Competition. Photographer: Erika Gronek/ASU Download Full Image

“The EPICS Elite Pitch Competition was created to allow student teams an opportunity to obtain additional funding to implement their solutions, which will create value and provide a positive impact on the communities they are working with,” says Jared Schoepf, EPICS director of operations and lecturer.

The first-place team, Water in Peru, was awarded $1,500; the second-place team, Shonto Pump Track, was awarded $1,000; and the third-place team, Bridge2Africa, received $500.

Water in Peru

The Water in Peru team is working to solve the global problem of monitoring chlorine concentrations for disinfecting water. They are developing a continuous and autonomous chlorine disinfection system alongside 33 Buckets. The Water in Peru team’s system utilizes chlorine tablets to remove E. coli bacteria from reservoirs that provide drinking water to communities in Peru.

“Chlorine disinfection requires a consistent, precise dose to be effective against bacterial contamination over time,” says Daniel Hoop, an environmental engineering major and the Water in Peru team lead. “The primary goal of our system is to make the dosing of chlorine in drinking water systems more user-friendly.”

In order to improve usability, the team designed and prototyped a tablet chlorination system that contains an adjustable ball valve to change chlorine exposure to water flowing into a community’s reservoir.

The second aspect of the system is automatic monitoring of residual chlorine levels.

“Residual chlorine is the parameter set by the World Health Organization to confirm that drinking water is safe to consume after disinfection,” explains Hoop. “Currently, many communities lack the resources and training to properly test for residual chlorine. As a result, we are working on a sensor that continuously and automatically tests for the residual chlorine level in water without the need for reagents.”

The sensor is completely solar powered and compact; it can fit in a lunch-box-sized encasing. The goal of the sensor is to supplement manual water quality testing with remote monitoring through data collection. To confirm the effectiveness of the system, the team created a manual testing training that they will also provide to community members. 

Hoop says that he worked with 33 Buckets because of the alignment of the project’s mission and the organization’s origins as a former EPICS project.

“The EPICS program provides a platform for undergraduates to work through the engineering design process with a community partner on an actual solution for a client,” says Hoop. “The program provides support in the form of advisers, prototyping labs and funding opportunities to allow for projects to manifest into real-world solutions.” 

three people posing next to lakefront

Students (from left to right) Brett Goldsmith, Samantha Stone and Daniel Hoop show a prototype of their autonomous chlorine disinfection system created as part of the Engineering Projects in Community Service program. The Water in Peru team earned first place in the EPICS Elite Pitch Competition. Photographer: Erika Gronek/ASU

Water in Peru team members

• Daniel Hoop, environmental engineering

• Samantha Stone, environmental engineering

• Zachary Kobza, civil engineering

• Brett Goldsmith, engineering (electrical systems)

• Mauro Robles, biomedical engineering

• Dev Patel, chemical engineering

group of people sitting around a desk

Students (from left to right) Aly Carlson, Alexander Owen, Emma Pedersen, Christian Messner, Danielle Seedon and Jocelyn Zaman show off a model of a mountain biking pump track they designed for the Navajo Nation community of Shonto as part of the Engineering Projects in Community Service program. The Shonto Pump Track team earned second place at the EPICS Elite Pitch Competition. Photographer: Erika Gronek/ASU

Shonto Pump Track

The Navajo Nation is currently facing a public health crisis and community leaders want to incorporate some form of physical exercise that will promote a healthy lifestyle in the community.

The Shonto Pump Track team is partnering with the community of Shonto on the Navajo Nation to use mountain biking as a way to provide economic development and promote public health by creating mountain bike pump tracks.

Pump tracks are looped trails with small hills riders maneuver to gain momentum and propel themselves forward without pedaling. This technique is called “pumping.”

“We have built a pump track at the local elementary school and are in the process of building a larger one at the community center,” says Aly Carlson, a chemical engineering major. “These pump tracks give the students a place to learn mountain biking skills while helping address the public health crisis.”

The team is also building mountain biking trails that they hope will bring tourists to the town.

“They will be able to grow their economy in the form of restaurants, hotels, bike shops and other service industries,” says Carlson. “This would allow people to work close to home and their families. We have mapped out a 12-mile trail and are waiting on land rights before we can move forward with building.” 

Carlson, who has been working on this project for three years, says she has a personal connection to the project.

“I started working on this project because I love biking and being outdoors,” says Carlson. “I liked this project because I saw it as an opportunity to help a large group of people and make an impact.”

Shonto Pump Track team members

• Aly Carlson, chemical engineering

• Danielle Seddon, mechanical engineering

• Alexander Owen, civil engineering

• Christian Messner, mechanical engineering

• Jocelyn Zaman, computer systems engineering

• Kinshuk Agrawal, computer science

• Emma Pedersen, aerospace engineering

group of students sitting around desk

Students (from left to right) Nadia Jafar, Robert Lattus, Abbey Jansen, Philipe Adriane Inocencio and Rajat Arora show a prototype of a device that converts online text on a webpage to Braille. This project was part of the Engineering Projects in Community Service team Bridge2Africa, which earned third place at the EPICS Elite Pitch Competition. Photographer: Erika Gronek/ASU


The Bridge2Africa team is working to convert internet text to Braille to help bring online access to students at the Sibonile Schools for the Visually Impaired in South Africa.

“Our solution uses a software and hardware approach to allow students who are visually impaired to navigate the internet,” says Rajat Arora, an electrical engineering major. 

The next steps for the team include designing and prototyping the hardware portion of their solution, which includes a physical Braille display.

“Our software portion revolves around building a screen reader from scratch that parses through webpages,” says Arora. “This allows the user to decide whether the text is ready via audio feedback or through the Braille keyboard.”

Arora explains the members of the Bridge2Africa team all wanted to get involved in an EPICS project for the same reason: They wanted to contribute to an idea they could see implemented by the end of their college careers.

“As we progress through our engineering majors, we noticed that nearly everyone is the same: we all take the same classes, have the same technical skills and apply for the same internships,” says Arora. “At the end of the day, we wanted to be able to see an idea to the end that we had a significant impact on, and see a community prosper from it.”

Bridge2Africa team members

• Rajat Arora, electrical engineering

• Nadia Jafar, computer systems engineering

• Abbey Jansen, chemical engineering

• Phillippe Adriane Inocencio, computer systems engineering

• Robert Lattus, electrical engineering

These projects represent only three of the student-led endeavors developed to solve problems around the world. Fulton Schools students have been participating in EPICS projects since 2009 when ASU joined a consortium of 20 universities in the nationwide EPICS program.
Erik Wirtanen

Web content comm administrator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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Alum's top 3 resources to jump-start your career

May 9, 2019

Max Altschuler, ’10 BIS interdisciplinary studies (business and design studies concentrations), shares three resources that helped inspire his early career decisions.

Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss is the author of “The 4-Hour Workweek” and other books. His blog is also super insightful. I try soaking up as much of his wisdom as I can. His podcast is especially strong because he brings on fellow thought leaders to dive deep into topics such as sleep enhancement, modern diet and exercise, and much more. He focuses on creating a growth mindset. To scale our career and live our best lives, we should try to become 1% better every day. (I explored this idea in my book, “Career Hacking for Millennials.”)

Book cover of Greatest Salesman in the World

Book: “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino

My dad gave this book to me when I graduated from ASU. It’s inspiring, motivating and it’s got a great way of laying out things you need to do to succeed. No matter what profession you’re going into, there’s an element of sales in what you’ll do. If you interview for a job or push for a raise, you’re “selling” yourself. If you build a team, you need to “sell” people on joining. This book is like a spiritual guide to life in the workplace, with really good actionable nuggets and advice on how to persist.

Website: Udemy

College taught you a lot, especially how to learn. Now you’re off to figure out your own path. That means developing vocational skills and putting them into play. Udemy teaches skills you need that often aren’t taught in college. For example, I learned how to create and run a search engine optimization strategy and how to run SEO marketing ads. These are very helpful skills in building a company. In fact, they’re two of the highest-paid consulting gigs in tech right now. Udemy has great practitioner-led education, so you get training from people who are implementing the skills in their own careers.

RELATED: 4 ways to skyrocket your career after ASU

Top photo by Inti St. Clair. Alum Max Altschuler is a founder of multiple startups during and after his time at ASU. Max is vice president of marketing for Outreach, a leading sales engagement platform, and author of three books. This article originally appeared in the summer 2019 issue of ASU Thrive magazine. 

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Failing forward: 4 ways to skyrocket your career after ASU

May 9, 2019

Alum Max Altschuler shares his misses and wins in an entrepreneurial journey to success

When I was graduating from ASU, I was lucky in two ways. I had completed an education at a great university, and I had already experienced business failure.

A couple of classmates and I tried to start a bike-sharing program at the school before Citi Bike was a thing. We got a little seed money to start but couldn’t raise the capital to build the business. It was shortly after the 2008 financial crisis began, and no one was giving three 22-year-olds in Arizona a million-dollar investment.

But that failure was the best thing that could have happened to me. The experience taught me resilience, perseverance and other important skills, adding to the knowledge I accumulated in my classes.

Most recent graduates haven’t had a business they created go belly-up or faced a similar career failure. Fortunately, you don’t need to.

Here are four ways to build a career in today’s environment, whether at a company or as an entrepreneur. These steps have allowed me to thrive over the last nine years as I’ve joined startups, created my own company and sold it for millions.

Go where you’ll learn

After graduating from ASU in 2010, a few friends and I started a business helping small-business owners leverage Facebook for lead generation and advertising. It did pretty well, and we were having a nice life. But we didn’t know how to take it to the next level. We realized that if we wanted to build big careers, we needed to go work for companies and executives from whom we could learn. So we folded the Facebook business and went our separate ways.

I started looking for jobs where I could learn about the things that excited me — business, entrepreneurship, startup culture, emerging technologies and more. To figure out where jobs might be plentiful, I looked for sectors that were getting a lot of investment money.

I applied for a bunch of jobs and got rejected. But I kept at it. Persistence paid off. I was hired by a small startup run by founders who had more experience than I had and a strong business plan.

I gave it my all and helped build and scale the company. I left when I’d reached my learning plateau and began with another small startup where I could learn new skills. I kept challenging myself and worked to get to know all sides of the business.

Build a community

While at ASU, you’ve had a community on campus. As you head off into “real life” now, it’ll be up to you to create a new one.

Network. Go to events, introduce yourself and shake hands. If you’re introverted and much more comfortable in one-on-one situations, email, call or connect with people on LinkedIn and invite them to coffee or lunch. Just get to know them. You’re building connections who may help you down the road in your career, just as you may help them.

I organized a monthly invite-only event for people with similar professional interests. I called it the Sales Hacker Meetup. I decided to organize a conference based on what we discussed at our meetups. That’s how my company, Sales Hacker, was born.

Be willing to pivot

Some of the greatest opportunities that come your way will be ones you didn’t specifically pursue. I had no intention of building a nationwide or global community for salespeople. But the idea for a conference took off.

So I decided to turn Sales Hacker into an ongoing business — a social space online for the best sales advice, and a series of conferences and meetups across the country and around the world. I saw the conference business become saturated because I had experience. So I put more effort into the website, webinars and podcasts, turning it into a successful digital media business.

Other people I know have made similar career pivots. They’ve created startups that originally focused on fulfilling one need, then found a market for something very different. Similarly, some people go to work for a big company and discover that they’re interested in working for a department that they never thought would be the right fit. So they learn the skills, make the jump and thrive.

Soft skills are the new hard skills

As you develop your career in this era of digital disruption, you’ll see how quickly things are changing. One of the big changes is that artificial intelligence and machine learning are taking over more and more of the rote skills that people have done in the past.

This means that businesses need workers who excel at uniquely human skills such as empathy, listening and relationship building. These were once considered “soft skills.” Not anymore. So the strengths you develop to be the best person you can be will become increasingly relevant in your work.

You’re entering the professional world at an incredible time, filled with opportunities. Have a blast. And be sure to take good care of yourself — and give back — along your journey.

RELATED: Top 3 resources to jump-start your career

Writte by Max Altschuler; photo by Inti St. Clair. Altschuler, ’10 BIS interdisciplinary studies (business and design studies concentrations), is a founder of multiple startups during and after his time at ASU. Max is vice president of marketing for Outreach, a leading sales engagement platform, and author of three books. This story originally appeared in the summer 2019 issue of ASU Thrive magazine. 

InvestU event brings ASU students, entrepreneurs and investors together for advancement

May 6, 2019

An innovative idea, the right pitch and an affiliation with Arizona State University may be the winning combination for two companies participating in the InvestU pitch event on May 20.

Surf Entertainment is focused on customizing passengers’ ride share experiences, while EndoVantage is assisting surgeons with complex procedures. Both companies must persuade accredited investors to invest money and resources in their ventures in a format similar to the show "Shark Tank." Download Full Image

"Phoenix is one of the fastest-growing cities and ASU is the most innovative university,” said Robby Choueiri, associate director of ventures and investments for Arizona State University Enterprise Partners. “There are a limited number of funding options in Arizona during a company’s early stages. We’re building a community entrepreneurial ecosystem to introduce capital and resources, which leads to growth, job creation and more innovation.”

Eli Chmouni, founder and chief executive officer of Surf Entertainment, is excited to showcase his company at the pitch event that provides hands-on learning for ASU students who assist with selecting the companies and researching them for the investors. 

“I’m an ASU grad, and I’ve been teaching at ASU for eight years,” Chmouni said. “With Surf we’ve been going beyond Arizona for funding. It’s very exciting to pitch and raise funds locally. It’s a nice endorsement stamp and kind of cool to pitch in front of the ASU (community).”

Chmouni earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from ASU and teaches entrepreneurship classes in the W. P. Carey School of Business. Previously, he taught engineering classes in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Surf is Chmouni’s fourth startup and provides free in-car information and entertainment for Lyft and Uber passengers using a tablet mounted to the back of the passenger headrest. The platform launched in Phoenix in March 2018 and operates in nine other markets. It is meant to be similar to in-flight entertainment and is customized by time of day to offer news, streaming music, funny videos and a list of nearby dining options. Brands and businesses can promote themselves through advertising on the tablets, and drivers earn revenue when passengers use the tablets, which are installed in the cars at no charge to the drivers. 

The other company vying for an investment and relationship with investors is EndoVantage. The company provides a tool for surgeons to use 3D modeling and visualization to simulate treatment options and insertion methods for stents and other devices in patients with aneurysms. The goals are to reduce patients’ risks and improve outcomes. The technology is already being used at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. EndoVantage’s technology was developed by ASU engineers. Robert Green, president and CEO of the company is an academic associate and venture mentor at ASU, Brian Chong is the chief medical officer of the company and associate medical director of development at Mayo Clinic, which works closely with ASU. Haithem Babiker, EndoVantage’s chief technology officer, earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering, master’s degree in biomedical engineering and a doctorate of philosophy in biomedical engineering all from ASU.

InvestU was formed by Arizona State University Enterprise Partners and the former Thunderbird Angel Network to provide funding opportunities for companies that need a financial boost as they scale their companies. The first InvestU pitch event was held in March with two ASU faculty-affiliated companies: CYR3CON and Breezing. Both companies matched with investors from the event and are working on deals.

Paulo Shakarian, CEO of CYR3CON, was grateful to raise funds for his cybersecurity firm where he lives and works after traveling to several other U.S. cities to meet with investors.

“It means a lot to have it all be a single ecosystem,” Shakarian said. “If you look around the country at other hubs like Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Denver, all of these places have the right technology, an innovative university, entrepreneurs and capital. You need all of those things together in one place. It makes it easier to move quickly.”

Shakarian is an ASU Fulton Entrepreneurial Assistant Professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and specializes in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, which led to his company’s development in conjunction with ASU.

The other firm to match with investors in March was Breezing, which measures metabolism over time using a mobile metabolism tracker and a breathalyzer with biosensors, enabling users to implement a personalized diet and exercise plan to improve their metabolism. Breezing is being used to combat obesity, Type 2 diabetes and maintain healthy weight gain during pregnancy.

Andrew Steele, CEO of Breezing and a member of the board of advisers for the HEALab at the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, said the InvestU event has enabled Breezing to advance to the next level. That means commercially launching a second generation tracker that will be used with physicians to help patients with obesity and other medical conditions and obtaining FDA approval for additional medical uses.

Breezing’s chemical sensor technology was developed by researchers in the ASU Biodesign Institute before it evolved into the ASU spin-off company.

To participate in an InvestU pitch event, business leaders must apply and have a connection to ASU as an alumni or faculty through the firm’s board members or executives, and the business must be at the revenue-generating stage of growth or show compelling traction. Company representatives pitch to an advisory board, and ASU students conduct company research about the startups for the investors. During the pitch event, the students present their research findings and the company representatives pitch their companies. Then investors express their interest in investing and conduct their own diligence in the following few weeks. No final deals are made at the event.

Companies participating in InvestU have customers and are looking to raise between $100,000 and $2 million, Choueiri said. Additionally, they are looking to build relationships through investors’ connections, enter new markets and acquire additional customers.

Investors must be accredited and typically have an affinity to ASU as donors, faculty, staff, alumni or their family members.

This event is open to the public.

If you go:

When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 20 

Where: ASU Fulton Center, Sixth Floor, Lincoln Room, 300 E. University Drive, Tempe


Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners


Meet this year’s Sun Devil 100 honorees from The College

May 3, 2019

Each year, the Arizona State University Alumni Association selects and honors leaders of organizations from around the world who demonstrate innovation, growth and entrepreneurial spirit. Twenty graduates of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were recognized at the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2019 reception this year, an increase from last year’s 11 inductees.

“We are proud to honor this group of talented business leaders who showcase the unlimited opportunities for success that come from a liberal arts and sciences degree,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College. Sun Devil 100 awards Twenty graduates of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were inducted into the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2019. Download Full Image

Meet this year’s honorees from The College:

Lisa C. Bayne

Owner, Bumble Bee Air Conditioning

Lisa Bayne and her husband, Jim, are owners of Bumble Bee Air Conditioning in Tempe. Bayne is the former owner of Here on the Corner, a boutique she sold in 2012 that specialized in Arizona-based brands and philanthropic fashion such as TOMS. She serves on the Tempe Sister Cities Selection Committee and is a volunteer with Tempe Leadership Class. Her two children, Helen and Brevik, are non-degreed alumni of ASU. Bayne is a member of the ASU Alumni Association and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from The College in 1988.

Molly D. Castelazo

Chief content strategist, Castelazo Content

Molly Castelazo serves as chief content strategist at Castelazo Content, a Phoenix-based marketing firm she established in 2008. Castelazo served as vice president of communications for the American Marketing Association’s Phoenix chapter from 2013-14. She previously was an economic analyst and writer for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. She is a volunteer teacher with Junior Achievement of Arizona, and co-chair of the Arizona Technology Council’s workforce development and education committee. Castelazo has been an adjunct professor at ASU. A Barrett honors student, she received dual bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science from ASU in 2002.

Scott Cooper

CEO and co-founder, MEJDI Tours

Scott Cooper co-founded MEJDI Tours in 2009. The company provides groups and individuals with customized itineraries for travel to locations worldwide. Cooper describes himself as a “serial social entrepreneur currently working on changing the world through travel!” Prior to launching MEJDI, he served as co-executive director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, a position he held for almost seven years. He previously worked as a personal banker at JPMorgan Chase from 2004-07. He also has worked for the U.S. Institute of Peace on a project focused on evaluating peace-building programs in conflict zones. He received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. Cooper received a bachelor’s degree in political science from ASU in 2003. He received a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University in 2010.

Ben Ellis

Founding partner and designated broker, E & G Real Estate Services

Ben Ellis has been the designated broker and founding partner for E & G Real Estate Services since September 2013. He previously was an associate broker at IRENT4YOU Inc. from 2011-13. He began his real estate career in 2008 as the marketing and transaction coordinator for the real estate investment firm Marcus & Millichap. Ellis served as a volunteer project manager for the Valley Eruv Project from 2008-13. He is a director for the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix and a member of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council. He received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. Ellis received a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2008 from The College.

Kathleen Duffy Ybarra

President and CEO, Duffy Group Inc.

Kathleen Duffy Ybarra has served as the president and CEO of Duffy Group Inc. since she founded the recruitment firm in 1991. Prior to starting her own business, she was the director of research for Tirocchi-Wright Inc., another recruiting firm, from 1983-90. Previously, she was president of the National Charity League Moon Valley chapter. She is a founding member of the Arizona Human Resource Executive Forum and currently serves as vice chair of the Phoenix Steering Committee for 2020 Women on Boards, an organization whose mission is to increase the percentage of qualified women on public boards. In 2018, Duffy Ybarra was awarded the Athena Business Woman of the Year Award in the private sector. She is a cabinet member of the Campaign ASU 2020 Council. As an ASU student, she was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority, on whose chapter advisory board she now serves. She also was involved with student government and Devil’s Advocates while attending ASU. She was a founding member of the ASU Greek Advisory Board. Duffy Ybarra is a former trustee of ASU, a member of the President’s Club and a member and past chair of the ASU Alumni Association. She established the Duffy Ybarra Family Scholarship at ASU. She was a Sun Devil 100 Award recipient in 2018 and received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 1981.

Eric Flottmann

Chief operating officer, Higher Ed Growth

Eric Flottmann has been the chief operating officer for Higher Ed Growth since 2007. Higher Ed Growth provides services ranging from lead generation and management to consulting and web design to higher education institutions. Flottmann also serves as the chief technology officer for Green Nurture, a firm that helps companies incorporate sustainability into their operations, and is the co-founder of MobileLeads.com. He previously served as the sales manager for Yardcrew.com. He received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. Flottmann received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 2001. He received an MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2007.

Kara Goldin

Founder and CEO, Hint Inc.

Kara Goldin founded Hint Inc., best known as a manufacturer of fruit-flavored waters, in 2005. The company grew out of Goldin’s search for an alternative to the carbonated beverages that she blamed for causing her to gain weight. Goldin served as the vice president for electronic commerce and shopping at AOL from 1994-2001 and previously held sales positions at CNN and Time magazine. She has received numerous accolades including inclusion on Fortune’s list of Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and Forbes’ 40 Women to Watch Over 40. Goldin is a regular keynote speaker at business events and writer on business and entrepreneurial topics. In 2016, she launched The Kara Network, an online digital resource and mentoring platform for aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Goldin is a member of the Campaign ASU 2020 council and the Alumni Council. She received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 1989.

Andrew Gutierrez

President and CEO, Gutierrez-Palmenberg Inc.

Andrew Gutierrez has been president and CEO of Phoenix environmental consulting firm Gutierrez-Palmenberg Inc., which operates Phoenix Internet, since 1997. Phoenix Internet, founded by Gutierrez, is a local internet service provider. Gutierrez also served as a youth mentor through New Pathways for Youth and was active in Rotary International. He received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. Gutierrez received a bachelor’s degree in economics from ASU in 2011.

Jessica L. Irwin

CEO and founder, S.E.E.K. Arizona

Jessica Irwin is the founder and CEO of S.E.E.K. Arizona, an agency that provides therapies and services to children and young adults with behavioral disabilities. S.E.E.K. Arizona is accredited by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, a recognition that is given to firms with the highest level of quality service and accountability to its customers. Irwin has worked in social services since 1995. She serves as president and CEO of the Foundation for Exceptional Kids, a nonprofit aimed at providing educational programs and therapeutic support to children with developmental disabilities. Previously, Irwin volunteered as a Girl Scouts leader for four years where she led a troop of special needs children. She serves on the psychology board at ASU and is a member of the Sun Devil Club and ASU Alumni Association. Irwin received a master of education degree and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from ASU in 2011 and 2003.

Charles Reagan Jackson

Owner, CEO Etc.

Reagan Jackson is the owner of several Texas-based technology businesses. He has owned CEO Etc., which also is known as CEO Technologies and Computers, Electronics and Offices Etc., since 2009. His other businesses include Crosspoint Data Centers, Nalcom Wireless Communications Inc., East Texas Broadband and CEO Security. He also is a principal of Shiftspin.com. He received ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 awards in 2016 and 2018. Jackson received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 2004. He was previously a student at Abilene Christian University from 2000-01. 

Jennifer Kaplan

Owner and founder, Evolve Public Relations and Marketing

Jennifer Kaplan founded Evolve Public Relations and Marketing in 2010. She was previously the director of public relations for Spark Design LLC. She was a co-founder and partner in PRIME 3 LLC, a Phoenix-based public relations, marketing and event planning firm, from 2005-09. That firm merged with another in 2010. In 2017, she was named by Arizona Business Magazine as one of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business. She received ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 awards in 2016 and 2018. Kaplan received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 1996.

Joya Kizer Clarke

CEO, CASA Unlimited  

Joya Kizer Clarke serves as the president and CEO of her family’s business, CASA Unlimited. Established in 1989, CASA operates airport retail stores at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, as well as in the Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles airports. She is the owner and managing member of Desert Jewel Enterprises, a retail consulting business that has been in operation since 2000. She started her career in 1998 working part time for the airport food-service company HMSHost and continued working there full time until joining her family firm in 2001 as a store manager. She and other family members established the Kizer FTD Dementia Awareness Foundation in 2014 in honor of her mother, who was diagnosed with an extreme form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Kizer Clarke was appointed to Rep. Ruben Gallego’s Women Advisory Council in 2015, and she is a board member for the Arizona School for the Arts. She was named one of the 40 Hispanic leaders under 40 in 2013 by Valle Del Sol. She serves on the ASU Alumni Association board of directors. Kizer Clarke received a bachelor's degree in zoology from ASU in 2004.  

Jeffery C. Long

Attorney, LeVangie Law Group

Jeffery Long is an attorney for the LeVangie Law Group in Sacramento, California. Long specializes in professional malpractice, premises liability and insurance law. Prior to joining the LeVangie Law Group, he was an attorney for Hewitt and Prout, an insurance attorney in Hollywood, California. He is a member of the Northern California Association of Defense Counsel, the American Bar Association, and the New York, Nevada and California State Bar Associations. He was recognized as a Rising Star in California from 2012-16, an award given to accomplished attorneys in each state who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional development. Long received a bachelor's degree in political science from ASU in 1997 and a JD from St. John’s University in 2003.

Jodette “Jodie” Low

Founder and CEO, U & Improved LLC

Jodie Low founded U & Improved, a leadership development and training company, in 2009. The company works with both small and large companies and individuals to deliver “heart-based leadership” training. In 2016, she launched the U & Improved Foundation to provide leadership training to teenagers. Low was previously the chief relationship officer for Amplify U, another provider of training programs. She was the co-founder of Girlfriend University, a training and coaching firm developed to empower and educate women about strategies for creating successful businesses. As an ASU student, Low was a member of Alpha Phi sorority. She received a bachelor's degree in communication from ASU in 1994.

Carol May

Chair and CEO, United American Industries dba Wisdom Natural Brands

Carol May has served as president of Wisdom Natural Brands since January 2012; she became its CEO in April 2017, a month after the death of her husband, James May. She previously served as the company’s senior executive vice president and the executive assistant to the president. Wisdom Natural Brands was founded by James May, who helped popularize the natural sweetener stevia in the United States. May was working as a marriage and family therapist when she and her husband decided to launch their company, which began in their garage. In 2015, she was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona by AZ Business Magazine. May received a Master of Counseling and a bachelor's degree in psychology from ASU in 1982 and 1977. She also received a master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University and participated in an executive education program on marketing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Frederick “Fred” Petti

Partner, Petti and Briones PLLC

Fred Petti co-founded Petti and Briones PLLC in 2011. Petti represents all types of clients but he has particular interests in tribal gaming law and white-collar criminal defense. A former assistant U.S. attorney in both Arizona and Oregon, Petti has authored or co-authored several legal articles and received numerous accolades. He is a fellow of the Litigation Council of America. His work in white-collar criminal defense has earned him a listing in Best Lawyers in America and being named a Southwest Super Lawyer. He also was named one of Arizona’s Finest Lawyers in 2011. Petti received a bachelor's degree in history from ASU in 1980, a master's degree in history from NAU in 1982 and a JD from the University of Arizona in 1987.

Jessica Reese

Chief clinical officer, Intermountain Centers for Human Development

Jessica Reese has been chief clinical officer for Intermountain Centers for Human Development since July 2014. She has been with the organization since 2008, first as its clinical director for children’s out of home services for three years and then its director of behavior interventions. Before joining Intermountain Centers, Reese was the director of behavior consulting services for H.O.P.E. Group LLC from 2001-08. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Grand Canyon University. Reese received a bachelor's degree in political science and a bachelor's degree in sociology from ASU in 2003 and 2004. Reese received a master of education in special education with a board certified behavior analyst certification from Northern Arizona University.

Susan “Susie” Timm

Owner, SCM Timm Enterprises dba Knife & Fork Media Group

Susie Timm founded SCM Timm Enterprises in 2010. The firm specializes in providing marketing, public relations and strategic communications with an emphasis on restaurants, gourmet products and the food and beverage industry. She started her career in the food service industry in 2009 when she co-founded Foodies Like Us, a business that hosted culinary events for home cooks. Previously, she had a successful banking career, serving as community bank president for UMB Bank from 2007-09. Only 27 at the time, she was the youngest bank president in Arizona. Before joining UMB, she worked at JPMorgan Chase, rising to vice president of business banking before leaving the firm. She was named to the Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and Women Leaders in Business lists. As an ASU student, she served as chair of the ASU College Republicans. She received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. She received a bachelor's degree, cum laude, in political science from ASU in 2000.

Johnathan Chase Williams

Co-owner, The Coaches Group LLC

Chase Williams is the co-owner of The Coaches Group, a North Carolina firm that operates the Institute for Speech and Debate (ISD). The ISD holds speech and debate summer camps in both North Carolina and Florida for youth from across the country. Williams also serves as a senior faculty member and co-director at the camps. In August 2018, he was named a teacher and head debate coach at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan. He previously served as a speech and debate specialist at the Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio. Before becoming an educator, Williams was a political operative and consultant who worked on the campaigns of several Arizona Democratic politicians, including on former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s 2011 mayoral race. Chase served as an Arizona delegate to the Democratic National Convention during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign. He received a bachelor's degree in political science from ASU in 2011.

Ray Ybarra Maldonado

Co-owner and attorney, Ybarra Maldonado Law Group

Ray Ybarra Maldonado is an attorney and human rights activist. He focuses his work primarily on immigration, criminal defense, civil rights and personal injury law. Maldonado has been very active in promoting immigrants’ rights. He co-wrote and co-produced a documentary titled "Rights on the Line: Vigilantes at the Border," which was about the Minuteman movement on the U.S.-Mexico border. He is frequently quoted in the media regarding immigration issues and has given lectures on immigration, vigilantism and the militarization of the border at a number of universities. Maldonado played baseball at Cochise Community College. He received a bachelor's degree in religious studies from ASU in 2002. He received a JD from Stanford University in 2007.