Students take top honor at statewide innovation competition

Team Fluition: Andrew VanDyke, Brittany Taylor, Kathryn Christopher, Briauna Taylor and Leah Bauer.
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Team Fluition: Andrew VanDyke, Brittany Taylor, Kathryn Christopher, Briauna Taylor and Leah Bauer.
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A group of Grand Valley students who competed in the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize won the Masco undergraduate prize February 14 in Ann Arbor.

Team Fluition, which includes three product design and manufacturing engineering students and two business students, developed a device that helps hospital patients move from sitting to standing. The students competed against 16 teams from Michigan institutions and won $20,000 to commercialize their product.

The competition, hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, is a six-month program that enables teams to go from an idea to venture launch. Teams members were trained and paired with mentors to help them move their company forward and learn the skills needed to start a successful company.

Brittany Taylor, a business major, said the team plans to use the prize money for a consultation with a patent lawyer and to manufacture three devices to be placed at selected hospitals for testing purposes. “We are in the process of forming an LLC, and are all extremely excited to start this journey together,” said Taylor.

The project began in October 2013 in a product design class led by John Farris, professor of engineering. He connected the students with physical therapists at Spectrum Health who expressed a need for a different sit-to-stand device.
 
Leah Bauer, a product design and manufacturing engineering major, said the device was designed to be used in critical care centers to provide staff with an easy patient loading system and patients with proper standing motion.

“We believe our device will improve the comfort of the patients while decreasing their time in the hospital or care center,” said Bauer. “We designed it to be easy for medical staff to use, reduce the risk of injury associated with lifting patients, and decrease the number of staff needed to operate the device.”

The group includes Bauer, Taylor, Kathryn Christopher, a product design and manufacturing engineering major; Briauna Taylor, a business major; and Andrew VanDyke, a product design and manufacturing engineering major.