Young students receive opportunity to attend ASU education camp

July 16, 2014

For one week each summer at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus, high school students from around the nation come together to learn what it takes to be a teacher at the Hunnicutt Future Educators Academy. In June of 2014, more than 30 students participated in the overnight camp hosted by Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College – many on scholarship.

Devon Ferguson, a senior from Harper High School in Chicago, heard about the camp – named after the late Harold B. Hunnicutt, a former professor of education at ASU – from his school counselor, who encouraged him to apply. After submitting a statement indicating his interest and financial need, he received a full scholarship to make the trek to Arizona and explore what it would be like to pursue his passion: becoming a special education teacher at his former elementary school. Hunnicutt Future Educators Academy 2014 Download Full Image

“Teaching means a lot to me because you can help to change somebody’s life,” Ferguson said – a sentiment made even more powerful when you learn that his high school, which was featured in a February 2013 NPR news story, is located in a Chicago neighborhood plagued by gang violence. “I want to show kids that anything is possible if you go for it.”

A total of $5,000 in funding was made available this year to qualified Hunnicutt participants by Teachers College’s Office of the Dean. Ferguson was one of about 20 students who received full or partial funding to attend the academy, which typically costs nearly $400 per person.

“It’s nice to help someone who wouldn’t otherwise have had that opportunity,” said Corey Stevenson, a student recruitment coordinator senior in Teachers College who helps lead the camp experience.

While scholarship consideration is given to students from both in- and out-of-state, it is particularly helpful for those students who also may incur travel expenses to attend. This year, out-of-state Hunnicutt participants traveled to the Phoenix area from Nevada, California, Ohio and Illinois.

“No matter where these students are from, or what their background, when they all get together, they’re just kids and care about the same things,” Stevenson said.

Aside from simply hanging out and having fun, for Ferguson, that meant touring the ASU athletics’ facilities on the Tempe campus and hearing from current faculty and students about what it means to be in college and major in education.

He expressed particular excitement over the high employment rate for Teachers College alumni. An ASU exit survey of 2012-2013 graduates found that 93 percent of Teachers College undergraduate students pursuing jobs were employed or had at least one job offer 90 days after graduation.

And to sum up his experience? Ferguson had just three words: “Camp was awesome.”

Medical device modeling software sparks tech startup

July 16, 2014

ASU spinout promises global market impact

A business startup formed to commercialize technology developed by an Arizona State University engineer and his students has won an Arizona Innovation Challenge award from the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), the state’s leading economic development agency. Frakes EndoVantage team Download Full Image

Recipients of the award “represent innovative Arizona entrepreneurs who are creating technological solutions with the potential for global impact,” the ACA said.

The award brings the company, EndoVantage, a grant of $250,000 to support development of its business operations. The venture is based on a novel software platform that simulates the effects of deploying small medical devices (stents, for example) into blood vessels, as well as simulating the resulting blood flow changes.

EndoVantage is one of six ventures to receive an Arizona Innovation Challenge award so far this year from among 135 applicants.

The startup was also recently selected to receive support from ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative – $20,000 in seed funding, along with office space and other resources at SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, and mentoring from business experts.

In addition, the venture was accepted into IBM’s Softlayer Incubator, which is providing mentoring in software engineering and business-related services.

In 2013, EndoVantage received a $100,000 grant from the Center for Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic and the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University. The competition, which included 20 ASU and Mayo Clinic teams, was intended to promote personalized health care, the next frontier in patient-specific medicine.

David Frakes and Haithem Babiker invented the EndoVantage technology platform in ASU’s Image Processing Applications Laboratory with help from Brian Chong, a physician at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.

Frakes is the chief science office for EndoVantage. He is an associate professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, and in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, two of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Babiker is the chief technology officer. He is a postdoctoral research associate in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering.

Justin Ryan, a biomedical engineering doctoral student working in Frakes’ lab, is contributing to EndoVantage by providing 3-D virtual modeling of blood vessels.

With the EndoVantage platform, clinicians “now for the first time can design the optimal endovascular treatment strategy for each patient before surgery,” Frakes said. “This improves the quality of treatment and reduces costs.”

The technology will also enable medical device companies to perform virtual testing of medical devices in hundreds of different virtual patient anatomies. That capability will help improve product design and prevent product defects and other risks to patients, Frakes said.

“Ultimately, the EndoVantage technology will lead to better medical devices, and better use of those devices in the clinic to save patients’ lives,” he said.

The spinout of EndoVantage from ASU was facilitated by Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), ASU's technology transfer organization. AzTE has worked with Frakes’ team throughout the process from commercialization to startup and revenue generation.

Longtime Arizona health care entrepreneur Robert S. Green has joined the venture as president and chief executive officer. Green founded and operated six successful companies, and is past president of the Arizona BioIndustry Association.

“ASU is on the leading edge of universities supporting research commercialization efforts by faculty,” Green said. “The support we have received from AzTE and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group has been critical to our success to date.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering