Brent Nowak, Ph.D., Executive Director
Office: (616) 331-6843
Dr. Brent M. Nowak, PhD is the founding Executive Director of the applied Medical Device Institute at Grand Valley State University. aMDI is a non-academic unit of the College of Engineering and Computing that provides doctoral-level, multi-disciplinary engineering analysis, design, fabrication, and testing of emerging medical devices and science at the pace of industry, while serving a broad range of clients from the healthcare to medical device manufacturing industries.
Over the last 30 years, Dr. Nowak has led product and technology development programs spanning ideation through commercialization; field use and application in areas including robotic systems, autonomous underwater vehicles and medical devices; and entrepreneurial ventures in formation, pre-seed, and seed stages that have been successfully transitioned to industry.
His career has been a balance between academia and industry, as Dr. Nowak proudly works in the “applied” research domain where almost 90% of his work today is in industrial, military, or commercial use. A number of his developments have been in the medical device arena, and have resulted in eight patents; several of these developments are in active licensing negotiations, resulting in the incubation of a new medical device company, OrthoForge. Dr. Nowak is a successful founder, CEO, and/or principal of numerous life sciences and medical device start-ups.
Prior to his position at Grand Valley State University, Dr. Nowak was the founding Director of the Robotics and Intelligent Machines laboratory at the University of Texas at San Antonio; was the Assistant Director of the Manufacturing Systems Department at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI); and a US Space Shuttle Flight Controller at the Johnson Space Center. Dr. Nowak has been a returning Research Fellow at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research/Fort Sam Houston and at the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center – Newport, Rhode Island for four years.
John Hall, Principal Engineer and Project Manager
Office: (616) 331-5751
John Hall is a principal engineer and project manager at the applied Medical Device Institute (aMDI) within the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University. John has developed creative solutions in a wide variety of clinical areas throughout his career. His efforts have resulted in 18 issued US patents and more pending patents. With his previous R&D experience in medical devices companies and at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, he has developed a strong talent to translate clinical needs into technical design requirements and innovative design solutions. Developing simple solutions to complex problems is an underlying theme for his innovative process. John’s career has included successful medical device development and product launches within startup companies to large multinational corporations.
John is active in his church, plays hockey several times a week and enjoys hiking, camping, and fishing.
“I’m excited to join Grand Valley State University and mentor students in medical device innovation, design and product development. aMDI provides a great opportunity for companies and inventors push their technology forward with the talent and resources available at GVSU.”
Bonnie Dawdy, Operations Manager
Office: (616) 331-5798
Bonnie Dawdy is the Operations Manager for aMDI and oversees the day-to-day operations of the institute and manages the client support services, marketing and outreach. She is also responsible for coordinating the activities of aMDI by working collaboratively with clients, industry professionals, national, state and local grant funding agencies and community entrepreneurial support organizations.
She came out of retirement after working 23 years for Grand Valley State University to join aMDI in May 2018. Within her various roles at GVSU, she was the Operations Director for both the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative (WMSTI), a life-science incubator and GR Current, which was a spinoff of WMSTI with expanded emerging technology incubator services. During her temporary break from GVSU, she worked as a Program Manager of the Michigan SBIR/STTR Assistance Program at BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting and as Operations Manager for the Michigan Business Innovation Association. Bonnie is also the Founder and CEO (Chief Environmental Officer) of E3-Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Environments - creating an environment to support entrepreneurial innovation across the state of Michigan.
Her educational background includes business management, graphic design and civil and community engagement from GVSU and Davenport University. She has 15 years experience operating a life science and technology incubator and accelerator, 25 years experience working in a university environment. Her expertise is in community engagement through outreach, educational and entrepreneurial event coordination and collaboration among entrepreneurial resource networks.
She is a member of the Women of MichBio Committee, Vice Chair Person for the Health Sciences Early College Academy Committee (Kent Career Technical Center), a member of the planning committee for the Great Lakes International Innovation Summit (GLIn2), a member of the Michigan Business Innovation Association (MBIA) and a member of the International Innovation Business Association (InBIA) with a certification in incubator management.
Her passion is engaging with ESOs and "startups" with an emphasis on inclusivity and providing them the tools and environment they need in order to succeed within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Cody Rash, Project Administrator and Lab Supervisor
Office: (616) 331-5864
Cody Rash graduated with a Biomedical Sciences major from Grand Valley State University, with the hope of one day becoming a Physician's Assistant that specializes in Pediatrics. Cody grew up in White Lake, Michigan and was always fascinated by the medical field, and what it had to offer. His final goal in life would be to open up a practice of his own in order to help people live a better day-to-day life.
Cody's current responsibilities at aMDI include researching, testing, creating graphs or charts from data and assisting with general office work. His background in the sciences makes his research skills valuable in looking for critical new areas of growth in the industry.
Spencer Adamczyk, Undergraduate Lab/Project Assistant
Spencer Adamczyk is a undergraduate student at Grand Valley State University in his second year, studying Biology with an emphasis in Education. Spencer's main responsibilities include 3-D modeling in SolidWorks for design concepts, researching, and time management.
At aMDI, Spencer has done multiple research projects and aided in the development of testing fixtures for a variety of projects, using his growing education in biology to document and develop new testing procedures. Additionally, this allowed for Spencer to assist in research for new areas of development in each project, aiding in time management and project ideation.
Wael A. Mokhtar, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Wael Mokhtar is the Director of the School of Engineering at GVSU. His educational background consists of a B.S. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Alexandria University, 1994; a M.S. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Alexandria University, 2001 and a Ph.D. Department of Aerospace Engineering, Old Dominion University, 2006
Dr. Mokhtar’s research is in the areas of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). He worked in several experimental and numerical projects in cardiovascular system. He worked in developing biomedical training tools such as blood flow phantoms. His research in the area of Bio-Fluid Mechanics focuses on using CFD tools to simulation blood flow. He studied several cardiovascular diseases such as carotid artery stenosis.
Samhita Rhodes, Ph.D., Electrical & Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Samhita Rhodes is the Assistant Director for the School of Engineering as well as the Chair for the Biomedical Program. Her educational background consists of a B.E., Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, University of Pune, 1994; a M.S., Biomedical Engineering, Marquette University, 1997; and a Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Marquette University, 2003 and a Postdoctoral Anesthesiology Research, Medical College of Wisconsin, 2007
Dr. Rhodes is the Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Committee at Grand Valley State University. In 2007, Dr. Rhodes received an NSF grant ($700,000) to establish the Master’s program in Biomedical Engineering at GVSU. Her current research interests are in the area of Biomedical Image Processing and Signal Processing. She collaborates with Dr. Anthony Chang at the Van Andel Institute to improved automated image processing techniques for the detection of tumors in small animal models. She is also working with neurosurgeons at Spectrum Health in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit to accurately model the behavior of localization-related epilepsy, and extract information regarding network relationships between recording sites during ictal, pre-ictal, inter-ictal, and post-ictal periods. Dr. Rhodes maintains an active interest in using advanced signal processing techniques to study mechanisms affecting the initiation of cardiac dysthymias for which she was the recipient of an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant from the National Center. Dr. Rhodes also holds a joint appointment as an Adjunct Research Faculty member at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she collaborates in research with Dr. David Stowe.
John Farris, Ph.D., Product Design & Manufacturing Engineering
Dr. John Farris education background consists of a B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University, 1987; a M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University, 1993 and a Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Rhode Island, 1998
Dr. Farris focuses on medical device design. He works in an ongoing collaboration with the Lincoln Developmental Center, a Grand Rapids public school serving approximately 120 severely impaired students, and Mobility Opportunities Via Education/Experience (MOVE). Through this collaboration, they have developed the prototype for a lean-activated wheelchair that responds to the user’s upper-body deflection as it improves trunk strength. Full-time graduate students in GVSU’s Biomedical Engineering program are playing a key part in getting this wheelchair to production as they work with Dr. Farris to improve its design as they participate in translational research.
Trevor Ekin, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Trevor Ekin is currently a Visiting Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Grand Valley State University, teaching sophomore level introductory E.C.E. courses. He instructs lectures and labs for EGR 214: Circuit Analysis 1, EGR 224: Introduction to Digital Systems, and EGR 226: Microcontroller Programming and Application. While pursuing his articulated B.S.E./M.S.E. at GVSU, Trevor worked at aMDI as an embedded engineer, designing and programming embedded systems for a variety of projects around the lab. After graduation, Trevor had planned to go into industry and pursue a career in embedded systems, however when offered the chance to teach at Grand Valley, he couldn’t give up the opportunity.
While instructing at GVSU, Trevor has returned part-time to the aMDI team to contribute project management and a lead engineering role for new electrical and computer engineering projects.
In his free time, Trevor enjoys spending time with family, participating in men's-league hockey, and playing video games with friends.
Noah Keefer, Product Design and Manufacturing Engineer
Noah Keefer is an undergraduate student at Grand Valley State University. He is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Product Design and Manufacturing Engineering with a Design emphasis and expects to graduate in the Winter of 2020. He is interested in product development, sustainability in engineering, and overall improving his skills in the creative process. A previous role as an assistant to the Laboratory Supervisor of the Keller Engineering Laboratories of GVSU provided Noah with extensive knowledge in the operation of mills, lathes, and other machine shop equipment to assist students and professors in the development of prototypes for research and senior projects.
Noah’s responsibilities as part of the aMDI team include the mechanical design and fabrication of relevant components specific to each project. He is experienced with solving a wide variety of problems and needs presented by clients. This includes preliminary sketches, 3D design, and prototyping of designs created by the team. These experiences have helped him excel in creative thinking and problem solving. Skills that he has gained while working with aMDI include: proficiency in SolidWorks (CAD, CAM, FEA, and rendering of 3D models), design for 3D additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping using a wide variety of fabrication strategies, and testing procedures involving force analysis, accelerated aging, and analysis of mechanical properties.
In his free time, Noah enjoys backpacking and traveling. He has backpacked in Arizona, Utah, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, and various locations in Michigan.
John Doneth, Software Engineer
John C. Doneth is an undergraduate student at Grand Valley State University. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and has been studying programming since he was a kid. He currently works as a Software Developer at aMDI.
John has worked on many open source projects. He has spent extensive time developing applications written in native programming languages such as C, C++11, C++14, and Rust. As well as developing mobile applications on Android with Java. He also has experience working as a full stack developer for web applications and websites with technologies such as Node.js. Finally, he also has experience using various other languages such as, C#, Python, Typescript, Lua, etc, where needed.
Recodeo Rekod, Computer Engineer
Recodeo Rekod is a graduate student at Grand Valley State University. He has completed his undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering at GVSU as well. He currently is pursuing a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems with an emphasis in Bioinformatics and he is expecting to graduate in the winter semester of 2020. Since he has joined aMDI as a graduate assistant, he has performed research in machine learning and works on a variety of different projects in order to apply these skills.
Reco’s hobbies include reading, digital drawing, and hiking.
Lear Brougher, Mechanical & Biomedical Engineer
Lear Brougher is a graduate student at Grand Valley State University, currently pursuing the Articulated M.S.E/ B.S.E program with his Bachelors in Mechanical and his Master’s in Biomedical Engineering. He is expecting to graduate in the April of 2020. He has a fond interest in the medical industry since he had surgery and is trying to learn and explore as much as he can about the industry. He has always been interested in the product and medical device area of the industry and how people go from Idea to a finished product. At aMDI, he is working on general assistance with device research and development (R&D), and a UV project.
When he is not working or in school he is hanging out, playing video games, or playing all types of sports with friends, like basketball, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee.
Soni Jha, Software Engineer
Soni Jha is a graduate student at Grand Valley State University, pursuing Master of Science Degree in Computer Information Systems with specialization in Biomedical Informatics and expects to graduate in April of 2020. Prior to this, Soni worked as a lecturer of Mathematics at University level in India as well as in Dubai. She completed her first Masters program in Computer Science from Mumbai University (India) and a Bachelors Degree in Information science from Visveswaraya Technological University (Bangalore, India). At aMDI, she works as a Software Engineer and is eager and passionate about learning trending technologies and utilizing it to contribute towards the goal of the organization.
Apart from programming, she also has an inclination towards painting and travelling.
Brendan Beauchamp, Computer Engineer
Brendan Beauchamp is an undergraduate student pursuing his degree in Computer Engineering. Ever since Brendan was a little kid, he has been reading his Mom’s Medical text books and learning about the body in his free time. He was empowered when he saw the aMDI laboratories and the opportunity to implement design thinking into medical devices. He is deeply inspired by both autonomous design and kinesiology, while his professional field of interest is Computer Hardware Engineering. He recently published his first paper integrating sEMG for Human Interface Devices to IEEE and aspires to continue this research in graduate school.
In his free time I design and play musical instruments, hike, and research in the fields of evolutionary computation and kinesiology.
Garrett Graves, Software Engineer
Garrett Graves is pursuing a Computer Information Systems degree at Grand Valley State University with the goal of working for a Fortune 500 company as a CIO. Garrett was raised in Brighton, Michigan and has been coding and building computers since he was 12 years old. His responsibilities at aMDI include designing, implementing and programming software based on a specific clients needs. Garrett's extensive history of programming make him especially equipped to deal with these tasks.
Garret's interests are programming, music, cars and working out.
Aldo Fanelli, Mechanical Engineer
Aldo Fanelli was a graduate student at aMDI and graduated in April 2019 from the M.S.E/ B.S.E program with an emphasis in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering. His duties at aMDI included general assistance with device research and development (R&D), and implementation especially as it pertained to the 3D Additive Manufacturing. He recently completed an engineering internship with MedPlast, a contract medical device manufacturer in the area.
Outside of school and work, he enjoys working out and digital photography, and he formerly played intramural football, basketball, and soccer.