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ECE Chair Highlights Benefits of I-CORPS Program in Op-Ed Article

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By: 

Audrey Grayson

In laboratories and research centers across the country, new inventions and discoveries are being made each and every day. However, very few of these ideas make it out of the laboratory and into the consumer marketplace. One program dedicated to translating more research into the marketplace is the National Science Foundation's (NSF) I-CORPS Program.

Badri Roysam, chair of the Cullen College's electrical and computer engineering department, contributed an op-ed article to the ECE Source, a publication of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA), highlighting the benefits of participation in the I-CORPS program.

The Innovation Corps (I-CORPS) Program aims to prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and bring select, NSF-funded projects to the commercial market. Wei-Chuan Shih, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Cullen College, is the latest UH engineer to win one of the coveted I-CORPS awards. 

Shih and his Ph.D. student, Yu-Lung Sung, were experimenting with the application of heat to the transparent biopolymer polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a material that is widely used for soft lithography. Sung and Shih accidentally stumbled upon the fact that droplets of PDMS on a glass surface make superb lenses that can be attached to smartphones. The lenses, when placed over the smartphone's camera, can render the phone into a handheld microscope. Moreover, the lenses cost a grand total of only 3 cents per lens to manufacture.

"This three-way partnership at the project level is priceless," Roysam wrote in his article. "The student inventor learns the ropes of the innovation ecosystem under the joint guidance of an ECE faculty member, and a faculty member from the College of Business. The project team is additionally networked closely with the I-CORPS sites and nodes, and this provides world-class knowledge sharing and project tracking benefits."

Read the full article at http://ecedha.org/ece-media/newsletter/september-2015/i-corps-2015/.

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