ASU startup partners with College of Health Solutions to put its product to the test

May 22, 2014

While helping his parents with yard work one summer, Arizona entrepreneur Stephen Walden wondered how he could prevent the sore, achy muscles that inevitably seemed to follow the rigorous task of digging and shoveling. Determined to find a way to make the work less painful, Walden set out to build a better shovel.

Armed with glue and some PVC pipe, he created a prototype of a shovel with a rotating center handle incorporated into its shaft. Unlike standard shovels, Walden’s prototype allowed him to keep his hands in front of his body and at the same height, ensuring that the load was evenly distributed between both hands. Bosse Tools founder Stephen Walden Download Full Image

Realizing that he could apply this design to a whole range of tools, Walden founded Bosse Tools with Arizona State University graduate Aaron Gagleard, who earlier this month earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the W. P. Carey School of Business. Together, the two are developing a line of ergonomically designed hardware tools that aim to reduce injury and increase productivity by diminishing strain on the back, shoulders and wrists.

"What started as a simple idea for a shovel has really taken off into something I never expected,” said Walden, who serves as the company’s president and CEO. “It’s a whole new look for all hardware tools, promoting ergonomics and safety in the workplace."

Thanks to a partnership with ASU’s College of Health Solutions, Walden and Gagleard had the opportunity to put Bosse’s shovels to the test during the spring 2014 semester. The two teamed up with Health Solutions faculty member Erin Harper, a kinesiology instructor, and her students in the Biomechanics Lab to compare a traditional shovel to a Bosse shovel from a biomechanical perspective. The partnership allowed Walden and Gagleard to collect data about the efficacy of their product while giving ASU students the opportunity to participate in hands-on field testing with real-life applications.

Over a two-week period, the students conducted testing that measured angles of flexion (how much the body bends) of the trunk, knees and wrists while using a traditional shovel, and then while using a Bosse shovel. The students also conducted electromyography (EMG) testing to measure differences in muscle usage between the tools.

The test results showed that on average participants experienced a decrease in muscle activity of the measured arm and low back muscles while using a Bosse shovel. This reduction in muscle usage gives an indication that shoveling with a Bosse shovel might be relatively easier than shoveling with a traditional shovel. Additionally, some participants showed a positive change in trunk and knee flexion when using the Bosse shovel.

"I think the take-home message was that when the participants used the Bosse shovel, there was substantially less muscle activity (in) the lower back," Harper said. “We know from previous reports on snow shoveling injuries that a large number of injuries come from musculoskeletal exertion. If a person can complete the same task with less muscle activity, the onset of fatigue may be delayed, which may help prevent musculoskeletal injuries that usually result from compromised or poor movement technique.”

Though still a young company, Bosse Tools has already garnered national attention. The Bosse shovel was featured on Popular Science’s “10 Best Things” list in the magazine’s February 2014 issue, and stories about the company have appeared in nearly 50 media outlets, including USA Today, Fast Company Design, the Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Business Journal. Capitalizing on the media buzz, in 2013 Walden conducted a highly successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, raising more than $64,000 for the company.

Also in 2013, the company was accepted into the ASU Startup Accelerator, an ASU program that provides services to Arizona-based startups.

"Bosse Tools is one of approximately a dozen startups participating in the ASU Startup Accelerator, which supports and guides Arizona-based startup companies as they develop products and services, build a customer base and secure funding," said Mitzi Montoya, vice president and university dean for entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU. "Participating companies benefit from mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs, training and resources designed specifically for startups and opportunities to secure funding from investors."

Walden and Gagleard, Phoenix natives who attended Brophy College Preparatory together, agreed that the ASU Startup Accelerator has been crucial to Bosse’s success.

“The ASU Startup Accelerator has been a springboard for Bosse Tools,” Walden said. “A combination of mentorship and resources has really allowed us to focus on building our company.”

The ASU Startup Accelerator is now accepting applications for its next accelerator cycle. Arizona-based ventures in all sectors are encouraged to apply by May 30. The program is open to both ASU and non-ASU applicants, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

An evening with Nathan Fillion and friends

May 23, 2014

ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Department of English and the Center for Science and the Imagination will host an intimate conversation and fundraising event with actor Nathan Fillion on the importance of reading in the lives of young people.

“Serenity, Softwire, and the Science of Science Fiction” will feature Fillion as well as ASU professors Dr. Jim Bell, Dr. Ed Finn, Dr. Peter Goggin and Dr. Sara Imari Walker, and will be facilitated by science fiction author PJ Haarsma, who penned the popular “Softwire” series. The event takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 7, at ASU’s University Club, 425 E. University Drive, Tempe. Parking is available in the University Club lot at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional parking will also be available in the Fulton Center garage across University Drive; fees may apply. flier for the event: "An Evening with Nathan Fillion and friends" Download Full Image

The engagement is limited to a small group of 50 guests and the cost is $250 per person. Hors d'oeuvres and cash bar will be provided. To purchase tickets:

“The evening should prove to be a fascinating fusion of science, science fiction and literacy,” said James Blasingame, a professor of English who organized the event. “Nathan Fillion is not only a famous actor of several science fiction television and movie hits, but also an active supporter of school reading programs. Guests will also have the opportunity to pose questions to discussants and interact with them during a brief social in the University Club.”

Fillion is a Canadian-born actor best known for his role as Richard Castle on the ABC series "Castle," as well the FOX television series "Firefly" and its feature film continuation "Serenity."

He has also acted in Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic "Saving Private Ryan" and the comedy "Blast From The Past." In addition to film and television, Fillion has acted in Internet-distributed films, soap operas, theater and video games.

Fillion grew up the son of English teachers in Alberta, Canada, and attended Concordia University College of Alberta and the University of Alberta, where he became active in local theater and improv comedy. He made his screen debut in the 1993 television movie “Ordeal in the Arctic.” He relocated to New York, where he landed a role in “One Life to Live” and garnered a Daytime Emmy nomination in 1996 as Outstanding Younger Leading Man.

In the spring of 2009, Fillion starred as a novelist who joins forces with a detective to solve mysteries in the ABC series "Castle."

Net proceeds for “Serenity, Softwire and the Science of Science Fiction” will benefit the ASU Department of English Fund and will be deposited with the ASU Foundation for a New American University, a nonprofit organization that exists to support Arizona State University.

For more information call 480-965-7611 or visit:

Reporter , ASU News