Mobile medical clinic venture vying for entrepreneurship award

August 3, 2011

See video about the G3Box project and vote to support the project team in a national student entrepreneurship competition through Sept 12.

An idea that arose through class projects has become a fledgling business venture that has put a team of four Arizona State University engineering students into the finals of Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2011 Awards Contest. Download Full Image

Generating Global Containers for Good (G3Box for short) – an endeavor to convert 20- to 40-foot-long steel shipping containers into portable medical facilities – is one of five finalists vying for the national award.

The winners will receive $5,000 to help develop their business and be featured in a special section in the January 2012 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine.

The G3Box team consists of biomedical engineering junior Gabrielle Palermo and mechanical engineering senior Billy Walters, along with Susanna Young and Clay Tyler, who are pursuing master’s degrees in mechanical engineering.

Their business plan has its roots in three related projects undertaken by students in the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS GOLD) course offered through ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

In working on efforts to help provide medical and humanitarian aid, students on the project teams learned that each year charitable organizations in the United States such as Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment) and many others send large amounts of donated items overseas, using thousands of the shipping containers – but that the containers are often abandoned after delivery because of the expense of having them returned.

“The high cost of returning a shipping container to the United States is far more than its original value,” explains Richard Filley, director of the EPICS program and mentor for the G3Box team.

“The G3Box students saw a solid business opportunity when they realized that,” Filley says. “By converting those abandoned containers into 320 square feet of well-designed, sanitary medical clinic space, they could turn a widespread problem into an asset for communities across the developing world. “

Each of the three EPICS class project teams later won awards of $5,000 in ASU’s annual student Innovation Challenge competition.

The G3Box proposal then earned $10,000 in seed funding from ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, which supports students with innovative ideas for products and services.

With that funding and donation of a shipping container from Phoenix-based Swift Transportation Corp., the team is refurbishing the first of what it hopes will someday be many shipping containers repurposed for public benefit.

Palermo says she and her G3Box teammates foresee them used as a way for hospitals and health clinics to expand more affordably, for use as portable clinics in rural or remote areas, and for mobile medical emergency and disaster relief stations.

They’re goal is to form a nonprofit company to provide the converted shipping containers to existing nonprofit health organizations.

They plan to meet with leaders of philanthropic and service organizations to propose partnerships that would enable the containers-turned-clinics to be stocked with medical supplies when they’re delivered.

”Their vision is green, sustainable and affordable, and it solves several problems in current systems used by humanitarian aid organizations,” Filley says.

“We’re fortunate ASU emphasizes entrepreneurship training as part of our education.” Palermo says. “I never would have imagined I’d be trying to start a company while I was in still in college.”

The G3Box Team is one of three ASU student teams to be named finalists in the national contest. Read more.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


National news service to distribute Cronkite stories

August 3, 2011

McClatchy-Tribune News Service is partnering with Arizona State University to distribute Cronkite News Service stories worldwide.

MCT, the Washington-based news service owned by The McClatchy Co. and Tribune Co., distributes news and feature content to 1,200 media clients in the U.S. and abroad from more than 60 news organizations. Cronkite News Service is the newest MCT partner. Download Full Image

Cronkite News Service is a daily news service with news bureaus in Phoenix and Washington operated by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Student reporters cover public policy issues of specific interest to Arizona and the southwest.

MCT will distribute select CNS stories that have a national interest. The first CNS story distributed by the national news service detailed a U.S. Court of Appeals decision denying an emergency request to block the forced medication of Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused in the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting spree that killed six and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. The Sacramento Bee and other news organizations published that story.

Today news organizations from The Seattle Times to The Boston Herald ran CNS stories on Giffords return to Washington and another on federal prosecutions of illegal reentry into the U.S.

"We're pleased to welcome the Cronkite News Service as an MCT contributor," said Fred Povey, director of news services for McClatchy-Tribune. "We worked with Washington bureau chief Steve Crane for many years when he ran the Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, and we have distributed many stories from the Cronkite School's News21 project. So we're confident that the Cronkite News Service will provide MCT clients with high-quality journalism."

In addition, The Associated Press, the world’s largest newsgathering organization, will distribute select Cronkite News Service stories regionally to its news media subscribers in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana.

“Cronkite News Service has provided critically important news stories to Arizonans for nearly five years now, with CNS stories appearing across the states in newspapers and news websites as well as broadcast outlets,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “Now these powerful stories will have even more impact as readers across the region and the country will be able to read Cronkite News stories through these new partnerships with McClatchy-Tribune News Service and The Associated Press.”

Reporter , ASU News