To ensure that Utah leads the life science and engineering business sectors, those who enter the workforce must be appropriately trained and educated well beyond the classroom. 

BioInnovations Gateway (BiG), a life science incubator supported by the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) and the Granite Technical Institute, is leading the way for the next generation of scientists and engineers by providing resources and access to life science companies. The ultimate goal for the collaboration between Granite School District and BiG is to partner curious students with entrepreneurs and innovators.

Recently, students from Cyprus High School teamed up with two companies, nView and Stat Slate, that are utilizing BiG’s incubation space or consulting services to develop product prototypes. nView is developing a portable CT scanner, while Stat Slate is developing a disposable clip-on card to be used by emergency medical personnel to record triage data in an emergency event.

Scott Marland, executive director for BiG, says that pairing students within the Granite School District with life science entrepreneurs provides invaluable experience. In return, companies get great work, insight and energy from the students. In addition to the work they do, a company can connect with young, curious minds.

“The students get real world experience in positions that make an impact for the companies,” said Marland. “What they do makes a difference. Beyond that, they get to see people chasing their passions. I believe it is incredibly important to be around inspiring people like those in our start-ups.”

nView’s portable CT scanner/operating table prototype was constructed by Mark Olsen’s woodshop class, and incorporates hi-technology with woodwork and industrial design. The group was given an artist’s rendering, and worked with Cristian Atria, founder and CEO of nView, to brainstorm additional ideas. 

“At different points, we had to start over again to find something that worked,” said Olsen. “My students played a key role in this because they presented several ideas that solved the problems we were encountering. I have always told them the most important tool in the shop is their brain. This was a marvelous project, because every step required the use of problem solving skills that tested all of us, including me.”

Olsen said making the prototype from wood eliminated the need to make all the parts of the machinery that would ultimately have to be done to manufacture the final product, which can cost thousands of dollars. nView wants doctors to be able to see a replica and give input for changes.

Atria said the students in Olsen’s woodshop class showed creativity, enthusiasm and problem solving skills that were crucial to the prototype’s creation.

“Our work with Cyprus High School on this project mixed high-tech with woodwork and industrial design,” said Atria. “Scott Marland and BiG brought the school and our start-up together to complete this project.”

To produce the prototype for the Stat Slate, Aaron Bodell’s advanced production graphic students at Cyprus High School had to determine the appropriate production method for the disposable clip-on card. After researching printing methods, various substrates and ink adhesions, the class determined that corrugated plastic was the optimal substrate for the Stat Slate because of its rigidity and resistance to liquid, a requirement of Stat Slate’s founder Richard Crangle, due to possibly wet conditions in which the product is likely to be used.

The collaboration with BiG and Stat Slate has exposed Bodell’s students to a standard research and development practice that’s used in many industries today. While it’s the first time this kind of project has been implemented in any of his courses, he’s certain the experience and lessons will stick with these students and serve them in their future endeavors.

“This experience has taught them the importance of isolating variables, communicating effectively with a client, and presenting results and findings to a group,” said Bodell.

Crangle enjoyed working with the advanced production graphic students so much, he’s even considering hiring some of those students in the future. 

 “All of those involved were competent, creative and resourceful,” said Crangle. “They all participated to integrate the essential technology applications needed. This shared experience has provided instructional and learning opportunities for all of us.