OTT | RSS Feed Developing the Future Fri, 20 Nov 2015 21:33:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Vote LiteWater Mon, 02 Nov 2015 22:51:27 +0000 Read More]]> LiteWater, a company started by two professors at The University of Alabama, needs your help. LiteWater are finalists in the statewide business plan competition, Alabama Launchpad. A small portion of the competition gives out $1,000 to one team selected by the audience.

Audience members can watch a one minute pitch from the company –You can see LiteWater’s above, and then vote for your favorite. You can see all the pitches and VOTE HERE, but we are admittedly biased. We hope you will join us in our support for LiteWater.


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AUTM Eastern Meeting: Top Ten Tue, 15 Sep 2015 21:33:15 +0000 Read More]]> Two weeks ago,  our office was privileged to take part in the AUTM Eastern Regional meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. We learned a lot, met new cool people, and ate some really great food. It was such a wild ride, it took weeks to settle down and write this blog post. (Editor’s Note: This was supposed to publish last week — Oops.)

We would be remiss if we didn’t share some of our experience with you. So without further ado, here are our top ten experiences from the AUTM Eastern Regional meeting.


10: TSA Pre-Check

For some of you this might seem trivial, and to those people I say you must have never experienced the sheer bliss that is TSA Pre-Check. Everyone knows there is no better way to start off a trip than by taking off your shoes and belt, digging through your carry-on for every possible electronic, and throwing away any stowaway liquid bottles. Then walking through the metal detector for it to go off, then you have to walk back through because that quarter you thought lost when you were paying for that biscuit you didn’t need was actually there the whole time. Wait, none of that is fun you say? It sure looked like it as we expediently strolled through the dedicated Pre-Check line and did none of it. We actually felt left out and thought about going back through and joining the seemingly endless wait time, then the awesomeness that is the speedy Pre-Check line hit us and we came to our senses.

9: Gigantic Turkey Legs


IMG_0005 autm eastern meeting: top ten

Rick and Chris with their turkey legs.

Our first night in Raleigh was spent dining with our friends from Meunier, Carlin, and Curfman LLC. Once everyone had found their way to the downtown Marriot, we marched to a quaint little restaurant called the Raleigh Times. The Raleigh Times was a dimly lit restaurant resembling an old fashioned reading parlor with menus printed to appear like a newspaper, which initially caused quite the confusion. After large helpings of nachos – topped with good ole Eastern style Carolina BBQ — and fried pickles were consumed, it was time for entrées. There was a wide range of food from my fish and chips to shrimp tacos to a single blueberry topped with balsamic dressing. The most
interesting entrée came when I looked to the opposite end of the table to our director, Rick Swatloski, and Chris Curfman eating a ginormous smoked turkey leg that could easily have been confused with a toddler’s leg. Seriously they were so huge, I began questioning whether I was in Raleigh for a high tech conference, or in Bedrock dining with Fred and Barney. The legs looked awesome and the entire meal was outstanding, culminating in banana pudding that was insistently ordered by our friend John Z. – who will get his moment in the spotlight later in the countdown.

8: Couch to 5K Goals in tact

I know eating heaping helpings of nachos, giant turkey legs, and banana pudding may not sound like we kept these goal intact, but we promise we did. See, our office is participating in a campus wide training program called Crimson Couch to 5K. During the program, we need to log our physical activity as we progress to a 5K. Let us tell you that throughout the entire conference we kept moving. We walked everywhere that was feasibly possible in dress attire. Scout’s honor.

7: Startup Ecosystems of the Research Triangle

During the first full day of conference, we sat in on a session detailing the inner workings of the startup and entrepreneurship ecosystems of Duke, North Carolina, and NC State. Despite their rivalries on the hardwood, these three schools work extremely well together. Seriously, Democrats and Republicans should come perform a case study of how people who don’t see eye to eye come together to achieve common goals. These three schools believed in putting the right people in the right places to see start up ideas succeed. So, maybe the idea was created at UNC, but a Duke student could have the connections and know how to get it to market. These two would then work together to bring the idea to market. It was really refreshing to hear. Another interesting aspect of their ecosystem is the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund. This fund allows for four to seven awards of up to $75,000 for university-based start-ups. It uses external reviews to help provide feedback to the entrepreneurs and allows the technology to get ready for licensing or add-on funding.

6: Reception at the Stockroom

To finish off day one was a networking reception at the Stockroom. It was walking distance from the hotel, so of course, we got our steps on and made it over. After all, we have to keep up our 5K goals. At the reception there were cavalcades of awesome such as good food, good beverages, and good conversation. Need I say more? No? Moving right along.

5: Software and Peer to Peer Lending

Software is seemly easy to develop and commercialize, which of course, means it is difficult to protect and defend. To help educate ourselves, so we can share with everyone at UA, we decided to check out the Protect and Accelerate: Commercialization of Software and Information Technology. Lots of interesting topics where discussed, but might be a bit techy for this blog post. Additionally, John Austin from Groundwork Labs provided copious peer to peer lending websites that can be used not only for software based business but anything under the sun. Definitely a great resource for our entrepreneurs!

4: Web Portal Submissions are Actually Read

You know those standardized web portals that all the big companies have? The ones that force you to fill out web forms and submit a text file? The same ones that you submit to and think no one is ever going to read this? Are we the only ones that think this? If you do think this, then we have good news for you. During one of the industry forums, we were given a glimmer of hope when the industry panel said there were dedicated personnel to making sure these submissions find the right department within the company. So keep posting, there is an actual person receiving and evaluating your tech.

3: Industry Lunch

One of the goals of AUTM meetings is to get industry people and tech transfer people together and Eastern Regional Meeting did not disappoint in this regard. All three of us got to eat lunch with various industry representatives. Since our technologies tend towards the natural sciences and engineering, we dined with representatives from Eastman Chemical and BASF. It was a great experience to learn more about the companies and what types of technologies they are seeking. We made some great connections for sure!

2: Design Patent Seminar

Admittedly, we were a bit green on design patents. Of course we knew what they were, but didn’t have much practical experience with them. We attended this session to support our aforementioned friend John Zurawski. John is a patent attorney at Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia, who is goofy and ultra-likable. Naturally, we can relate to these traits. During his session, we were privileged to learn many things such as how to monetize design patents and that Rick has 30 pairs of Snoozie slippers. To say that John Z. rocked the stage and nailed the session would be putting it lightly. He took an otherwise mundane topic and turned it into an entertaining and engaging session. We were especially pumped to learn how design patents can be used to protect the user interface of software programs. Now, because of this session, we are starting to reconsider our stance on the patentability of software.

1: Twitter Traction

This may sound simple to some of you, but as a small office, this was awesome for us. We were able to capitalize on the small yet intimate audience at the Eastern Regional meeting. We gained new followers and found new accounts to follow. It was a good couple of days for @UAOTT. Below are some of our tweets from the meeting. We hope you will follow along, as we continue to grow and share our awesomeness.


That’s it. It was a great time and we can’t wait to go back next year. We hope you will join us next spring in San Diego for the national meeting, and next fall  in Philadelphia!

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AUTM Eastern Regional Conference 2015 Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:55:59 +0000 Read More]]> Well summer is winding down, school has started back, and football season is ready to explode back onto your T.V. All this can only mean one thing, time for the AUTM Eastern Regional meeting. This coming Monday, our office will be making an appearance in Raleigh, NC for the annual regional meeting. Below are some highlights of things we are super excited to check out.


When you think rivalries in North Carolina, the Tobacco Road rivalry of Duke and North Carolina may come to mind. But, the two perennial hardwood titans may not be the biggest rivalry of the state. That distinction could go to the factions of East and West – or Lexington – style barbecue. Differences between the two can be found in the sauce and hog usage. You see, Eastern style uses a vinegar and pepper based sauce along with the whole hog. In fact, Eastern style is said to include everything of the pig except the squeal. On the other hand, Lexington style adds ketchup to their vinegar and pepper base to form what is known as “red sauce.” Additionally, the Westerners only use the dark meat of the pork shoulder, which is juicier, richer, and moister.

Since we are going to Raleigh, it is only likely we will get to try the Eastern style. However, we will do our hardest to not show any favoritism in this on-going debate and attempt to get some Lexington style as well. After all, we are personally responsible to make recommendations to friends and family on the best BBQ. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

Conference Events

It should be noted that we think this event will go swimmingly well. It is led by our very own Rick Swatloski, who doubles as the Assistant Vice President of the Eastern Regional. Rick is one of Tuscaloosa’s best leaders, after all.

As for workshops that we want to attend, two caught our eye. Protect and Accelerate: Commercialization of Software and Information Technology and Tech Scouting: What Industry Is Looking For and How To Be Found.

With the recent increase in mobile and web apps, we are always getting questions on the best methods to commercialize new software. A simple answer is best practice are always evolving. We hope this workshop will throw a bit of useful knowledge our way.

As a small office, we have no choice but to work as efficiently as possible if we hope to see big returns. The sooner we can align our technology with what industry needs, the better chances we have of being discovered and inking out deals. In the Tech Scouting workshop, we are hoping to get some tips or tricks that can help optimize our efforts in this area.

Overall, we hope to make the most of our two days in Raleigh by doing the things everyone loves to do at conference: networking, soaking up as much knowledge as we can, and taking a small break from the daily grind.


Meet Our Team:
Rick Swatloski, Ph.D., CLP – Director

Rick is our fearless leader and captain. No, seriously he’s a captain. As in he will fly your plane kind of captain. Not only is he our leader, but also he is the Vice President of the Eastern Region. You can catch him roaming the halls and networking like an all-star. If you see him around, be sure to say hello and strike up a conversation. He will certainly like to hear what you have to say, and we know you will like what he says. After all, it will be your captain speaking.


Whitney Hough, Ph.D., MBA – Assistant Director

Whitney isn’t afraid to cut a rug or ink a license deal. When she isn’t wearing her boogie shoes or cashing checks, you can find her speed-reading a good book. Be sure to ask her what’s currently on the list, it is sure to be a good one. If you do happen to have the pleasure, expect to leave the conversation with some awesome new facts along with a few new bestsellers to check out.


Ben Bickerstaff – Graduate Research Assistant

The only team member not a part of the three letter club, Ben is the tagalong grad student and the resident wild card. When he isn’t writing dynamic blog posts – like this one – you can catch him discussing any one of a number of things from how Ohio State’s Sugar Bowl victory was a fluke to how best to market a cutting edge piezoelectric sensor. So if you’re brave enough, roll the dice and see what kind of conversation you get.


Hopefully, we will see any or all of you next week in Raleigh. Fair warning, it is the opening week of football season, so we make no apologies for the unabashed use of our world famous catchphrase, Roll Tide!


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Congratulations Rick! Latest Member of Leadership Tuscaloosa Mon, 10 Aug 2015 14:36:54 +0000 Read More]]> Lookout Tuscaloosa, our fearless and impeccable leader at The University of Alabama’s Office for Technology Transfer is now one of your leaders too. Our very own Rick Swatloski was selected to participate in the 2015/2016 class of the Leadership Tuscaloosa program. For the past 32 years, the program has been selecting upstanding citizens of Tuscaloosa to participate in the program. The goal is to help participants develop effective leadership skills so they can have a positive impact on the community.

In our totally biased honest opinion, they couldn’t have selected a better candidate to become a prominent leader of Tuscaloosa. Rick will do an outstanding job and we couldn’t be more proud. Congrats Rick!



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Are Superpowers Real? Yes. Yes They Are. Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:42:28 +0000 Read More]]> Growing up I was always enthralled with superheroes. I didn’t play favorites either, I genuinely loved all of them from Superman to Spiderman. When I was a kid I used to leap tall buildings in a single bound. (Ok, so it was me on a trampoline and red shirt fashioned to look like a cape, but you get the picture.) However, I will say I never fully appreciated the awesomeness that is Batman until I grew up, and the Christian Bale movies. This is probably thanks to some disastrously bad Batman movies. (I’m looking at you George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger.) But as I have entered the totally overrated adult stage of my life, I have had to stifle my imaginary superhero scenarios.

Recently, I read an awesome article on CNN that cried out to my childhood dreams of being a superhero. The article details 12 technologies that make superpowers a reality. So, as an adult working in tech transfer, I may not be able to have actual superpowers, but I can help these technologies reach the market. Who knows maybe the next of people will say, “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just Steve flying to work.”

Check out the 12 superpowers that are possible today in the slider below.




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How to Explain Rocket Science Fri, 19 Jun 2015 17:59:53 +0000 Read More]]> We’ve all heard the saying when someone is explaining a simple concept: “It’s not rocket science.” For most situations, this is an absolutely factual statement.  But what about the times that IT IS rocket science that is trying to be conveyed? How do you explain a super complex subject to someone that isn’t as versed in the subject as you? Maybe you need to present the technology to a panel for additional funding, and you want to ensure their full understanding of its importance. Well, we will make sure you do just that, thanks to our simple three-step process to make every situation feel like you aren’t explaining rocket science. (Yes, even if it actually is rocket science.)

To get the full effect of the process, let’s look at one scenario. Say your technology is a

method for extracting archaic deoxyribonucleic acid from fossilized structures to reproduce large extinct reptilian life forms through genetic sequencing.

That sounds really complicated, right? Not many people outside of geneticists would be able to read that description and understand it the first time. What we need to do is condense the description down to one digestible sentence. How are we going to do this? In the immortal words of Michael Jackson, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

1. Condense down to just one sentence

We have established that our goal is to describe technology in one sentence. The hardest part is knowing where to start, and the best way to begin is to ask yourself questions. What kind of questions you may ask? We want to ask value discovering questions that determine the overall importance and goal of the technology. For example, questions such as: What are the most important aspects? What is the overall goal of the technology? If I were to sell this technology, what would be my product?  That last question is probably the most interesting. This is because it forces you to think like a consumer. Just imagine your technology on the open market. Who would want to buy it and why? Is it something that end consumers would buy, or is it a complimentary product? A simple example of this is automobiles. Perhaps your technology is a new car engine. Would car buyers purchase your engine? No. However, automobile manufacturers would, so they can put your engine technology into their cars to then sell them to end consumers. So, looking from this angle helps you to understand how to package your technology and determine who would find it valuable.

In our initial scenario, what are the important aspects? Extracting deoxyribonucleic acid definitely sounds important, as does large extinct reptilian life forms and genetic sequencing. Now that we have the important points, what the overall goal is or end result?  It would seem that it is to “reproduce extinct reptilian life forms via genetic sequencing.”  So, what would we sell? Well in this example, it seems we don’t have an end consumer product because of the word method. What we do have is a process for producing something. In this case, that something is large extinct reptilian life forms. This means you would sell your process to whoever produces large extinct reptilian life forms. Now, maybe our sentence could sound something like:

My technology is a process for reproducing large extinct reptilian life forms through genetic sequencing.

2. Substitute in Layman’s Terms and Analogies

Once we have distilled the technology down to just one sentence, we need to decide if the sentence is easily understood and digestible. By this we mean, would the average person be able to grasp the concept after only hearing it once? Right now, our sentence is actually not really spoken in layman’s terms. To make it easier to comprehend, we want substitute in everyday terms or analogies that help people easily comprehend.

Here is the sentence again

My technology is a process for reproducing extinct reptilian life forms through genetic sequencing.

Sure, for some people this may be perfectly understandable, but we can make it better. Take “large extinct reptilian life forms” for starters. What exactly does that mean? Well extinct means no longer living or present on Earth, and the only large reptilian life forms that I can think of that are extinct are dinosaurs. So, that is what we will substitute into the sentence, dinosaurs. The first part of the sentence claims there is a process for reproducing these dinosaurs. So if the dinosaurs were extinct, but you are reproducing them, does this mean they are live dinosaurs? Absolutely – you wouldn’t make dead dinosaurs, right? Essentially you have a way to make actual dinosaurs, so why not just say that?

Here is our new sentence:

My technology makes living, breathing dinosaurs.

3. Take the sentence for a test run

Before you use the sentence at your presentation, you need to test its effectiveness. Find someone that is close to you that will listen and tell you if they understand. Perhaps use this as an excuse to finally try to explain to your grandmother what it is you do at “school.”

Now you might be thinking, isn’t the sentence a little rudimentary? The answer to this question is always no.

Think of this process like climbing stairs. We don’t start climbing half way up, right? We start at the first go up. So when explaining complex technologies, it is best to be as simple as possible. This is because the listener won’t be distracted or intimidated by words they don’t know or understand. Now you have their full attention and they can begin to ask questions, and just like walking up one step at a time, you can answer their questions to reveal more technical details about your technology.

It is reasonable to envision our sentence situation going something like this during your presentation:

Inventor, “I have a technology that makes living breathing dinosaurs. How do we do this you may ask? Well, we take DNA from fossils to recreate the necessary genes to clone dinosaurs.”

And so on and so forth. The point is that it is easier to be a main character in Game of Thrones and survive (Spoiler Alert! – Poor Jon Snow), than it is to relieve someone’s confusion. So, take solace in stair stepping them through your technology and never feel that it is too simple.

The reverse of this situation is that the sentence wasn’t simple enough and your listener didn’t understand. This is quite all right, and exactly the reason you picked someone you are close with. Simply ask them which parts they didn’t understand and repeat step two. Find relatable terms or maybe even an analogy. Incorporate this feedback and refine your sentence until you arrive at making living breathing dinosaurs.

There you have it, the three easy steps to explaining rocket science to non-rocket scientists. If you learned nothing else, just remember it is always better to start simple and get techier than to start techy and go simple. Even if it is as simple as I make really powerful rocket fuel, or I can create living breathing dinosaurs. The faster you can get the other parties on the same pager, the faster you can have constructive conversations. Oh, and if you happen to actually have this dinosaur technology, rumor has it that it would kill in a theme park. (See what we did there?)

Three steps to explaining rocket science rocket science

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What You Need to Know About 3D Printing Fri, 12 Jun 2015 19:03:55 +0000 Read More]]> 3D printing may seem like the “it” technology of the moment. But, what if I told you that it has been around since the early 1980s? That’s right, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has been in regular use in some form since 1982 when Hideo Kodama of the Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute published the first account of a printed solid three dimensional figure. So, what else don’t you know about our “it” tech? In this post, we are going to explore the in’s and out’s of 3D printing and perhaps debunk a few myths.

First, what exactly is 3D printing? 3D printing is the process of applying additive substances in a layer by layer method to match a computer generated model. In simple terms, someone sits at a computer and designs an object, then sends the design where a material such as plastic, is heated and layered onto a flat surface by the printer. It should be noted that is different from 3D sculpting, otherwise known as subtractive manufacturing. This is where an object is carved or sculpted from a solid block of material.

Companies value 3D printing because it allows for rapid prototype creation. With this method, companies can create small batches of new products and test them sooner than traditional manufacturing methods. In this methods, companies can prevent product defects by finding them before they proceed into production.

In addition to defect prevention, companies can produce actual size representations to examine how the design will appear on the end product. Suggested changes can be quickly implemented and examined thanks to the rapid prototyping of 3D printing. It is essentially equivalent to building a house in the same time it would take to make a Lego replica.


1 3d printing


After grasping the concept of the 3D printing, the next logical question to ask is what material are these printed objects made of. The answer is that it can be made of one or several different materials from metals to polymers with each material coming with its own set of pro’s and con’s.

Plastics are the most widely used 3D printed material. This is mainly because plastic is easy to heat up, mold, print, and quickly cool to a usable state without incurring many defects. Additionally, plastic is a relatively affordable material. This means companies can quickly churn out prototype designs in a cost effective manner.

Another benefit of printing plastics, is that a printer can produce plastic molds with a complex geometry which allow for more structurally stable products. These molds can then be used to cast and produce metal products.

Speaking of metal, did you know that it can also be 3D printed? That’s right, metal can be printed in a similar fashion to plastics. One key difference from plastic is the heating and cooling process. Metal must be heated to a much higher temperature than plastic and can easily develop imperfections during the cooling process. Because of this, metals command a much higher cost to print.


2 3d printing


Dr. Kevin Chou, a professor of mechanical engineering here at The University of Alabama, has developed a support system to help with the cooling problem associated with metal printing. His support acts as a “heat sink” which allows for uniform cooling of the metal. Think of it like baking a cake. If the cake doesn’t cool evenly, then it will likely sink in. This is the same concept except applied to superhot 3D printed metal.

Two things consumers might be most interested in printing are food and organs. As for food, there are currently printers on the market that can print items like chocolate and sugar based treats or something such as a pizza. A company called Natural Machines produces a printer they have dubbed, Foodini, that can print cuisine that is savory, sweet, and fresh. The company’s goal is to make their printer as ubiquitous as microwaves. Unfortunately, the Foodini isn’t available for consumers yet, but you can expect it hit shelves soon.

Printing organs is something that seems to come straight from a futuristic science fiction movie, but the process is already being developed in today’s world. Researchers at Princeton and John’s Hopkins have developed processes to make rudimentary body parts, such as ears and bones. These body parts are not necessarily made of organic material, but biogels and bio-polymers. The long term goal of the research is to be able to print organic material and ease the dependence of donations for vital organs such as kidney or the liver.

As awesome as the 3D printing industry is, it isn’t without its share of problems. The main problem is the inability to print conductive material, material that allows for the flow of electricity. As of now, printers can only print non-conductive material, which limits companies’ ability to produce innovative new products with electrical components.

Here at The University of Alabama, we have developed a few novel technologies with the potential to solve this problem. Dr. Jason Bara, a professor of chemical engineering, has created a novel polyimide material with customizable properties. For example, he can make a material that is harder and stronger, or one that is more moldable and bends easily. Where Dr. Bara’s technology becomes important in solving the conductivity conundrum, is that one of the customizable properties is conductivity. This means his material can be used to fabricate polymers, or plastics, which will be allow the flow of electricity. These polymers/plastics can then be inserted to a 3D printer and printed.

Another possible solution has been developed by Dr. Hwan-Sik Yoon. He has created a novel protocol for 3D printers to embed electronic components. In a nutshell, the protocol would interface with printers to stop printing and instruct an operator when to input the electronic components and then continue with printing.

Now you know the important basics of 3D printing. It will be incredibly interesting to see where the field goes and how it impacts our society. Who knows, maybe one day shopping for clothes and groceries will be as simple as printing them in your living room.

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Spring Recap: Venture Development Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:41:41 +0000 Read More]]> Student internships are often filled with frivolous menial tasks like filing paper work or making coffee runs. Essentially, interns are glorified grunts hired to do the tasks people higher on the proverbial totem pole don’t want to do. At the Office for Technology Transfer (OTT), that just simply isn’t true. OTT relies heavily on its venture development interns to develop commercialization strategies for new cutting edge technology. Teams of students with both business and technical backgrounds worked all semester to evaluate their chosen technology and create the best commercialization path. Their internship concluded last Friday at AIME Day, when the students delivered their final presentations to a room full of attorneys, venture capitalists, and other industry professionals. But before we continue, what exactly is a commercialization strategy?

A commercialization strategy is a plan to transfer an invention from the laboratory to the marketplace. For the interns to be successful, they must first understand their technology. Not on the same level as the inventor, but enough to convey the concept to someone else on an 8th grade level. Next, they need to understand the advantages it provides over current technology, and which industries find these advantages valuable. Finally, the interns must determine which key resources are needed to take the final step into the market. These resources could be items like financial investments, or new equipment needed to manufacture a product. Once all of these questions have been answered, the interns are asked to make a recommendation on whether or not the technology should continue forward or not. For example, if a new invention was an improved typewriter, an intern would probably recommend not to continue forward because there isn’t a market for typewriters. (Because, you know, there are these things called computers) But, say a technology was an efficient way to wirelessly charge your electronic devices, the intern would probably recommend to continue forward. Because who wouldn’t like to stop plugging their cell phone into a wall outlet?

Below is a description of each team and the technology they worked on for the semester.



IMG_0590 venture development

Steve and Doug of Fiberionic


Fiberionic focused on an efficient process for producing smart textiles. Current methods utilize gold and silver to coat the materials. This method requires dangerous volatile mixture and is detrimental to the mechanical integrity of the fibers. Also this process is quite obviously expensive, as it uses the precious metals gold and silver. Fiberionic’s process provides a much safer alternate by using ionic liquids to coat the fibers. Their process is much safer and protects the integrity of the fibers. The team was comprised of Doug Fair and Steve Spellmon. Doug is a senior majoring in Biology with a specialization in sales and minor in Spanish. Steve is a junior in Chemical Engineering.


IMG_0595 venture development

Pablo and Davis of Dynamix


Lego’s have been a staple in kids’ toy boxes for years. The main problem, as the Dynamix team pointed out, is that anything built with Legos is static, meaning it doesn’t move. The Dynamix team pitched an idea that would electrify the building blocks. These would integrate with existing Lego blocks to make them dynamically controlled with control devices like smartphones. The team consisted of Davis Snead, a first year MBA student, and Pablos Ramos Ferrer, a freshman chemical engineering student.




IMG_0593 venture development

Hunter and Vlad of Neurelectirc

Have you ever thought about how much power and electricity you use? This is becoming a question that more and more people should ask as the Earth’s natural resources wane away. The answer to this question has always been to move away from using fossil fuels as an energy source. This isn’t something that can be done cold turkey. So to smooth the transition and get the most efficient use out of current power systems, the Neurelectric team developed a commercialization plan for an artificial neural network that integrates into engines. This network would take into account all variables and automatically detect the most efficient way to achieve the desired output. A simple example is a car using cruise control going up a hill. This network would take into account variables like the elevation of the hill, wind speed, and grade to help the car maintain a constant speed over the hill. Hunter Bonham, a sophomore chemical engineering student, and Vlad Voykhanskiy, a senior majoring in Economics, made up the Neurelectric team.

As you can see, our teams were from a diverse group of majors and age groups. Not only was this not your typical internship, but it was a great experience and even better resume booster. Doug Fair had this to say about his experience:

“Working with the Office for Technology Transfer has been an incredible experience. Being responsible for the direction and scope of a detailed commercialization strategy was a perfect opportunity to learn the ins and outs of bringing a product to market. Analyzing the viability of complicated technologies allowed me to grow in my critical thinking skills and practical usage of my science knowledge. Finally, I learned how to work with ambiguity, and to have confidence in myself as a presenter, designer, and researcher. I liked the internship a lot”




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Attention Students: We are hiring! Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:39:23 +0000 Read More]]> Have you ever wanted to be involved with cutting edge technology? Are you interested in working with startup companies? Would you like to gain experience talking to real industry professionals before you graduate? Do you want a paid internship with flexible work hours that doesn’t require making copies? If so, then The University of Alabama Office for Technology Transfer (OTT) is for you.

First, what is OTT? The Office for Technology Transfer (OTT) works to protect and commercialize the intellectual property of the university. In layman’s terms, that means we help inventors take their creations from the lab to the marketplace. Currently, OTT is looking for bright, ambitious students to work and assist with the development of these cutting edge technologies.

Students who want to help impact the development of new inventions are encouraged to apply for the venture development position. A full description of the position is listed below.

Venture Development

Interns will work with OTT staff to develop commercialization strategies for UA-based intellectual property in technical fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, etc. The scope of the commercialization strategy will include: assessing a new technology, conducting market research to determine the correct market(s) for the technology, determining the technology’s position within the market, and developing a recommendation for commercialization (i.e., license to established company, start-up a new company, or develop technology jointly with an established company). Interns will be required to present their findings each week, so that progress may be recorded and tracked. The ultimate goal of the internship is to identify promising technologies that have a high chance for commercialization. These technologies will be presented to judges with both technical and business backgrounds along with the UA community at a technology showcase in November 2015. The interns will gain valuable experience in preparing commercialization strategies, delivering elevator pitches and presentations, working in multidisciplinary teams, and the chance to interact with angel investors, venture capitalists, industry leaders and executives.

The time commitment is approximately 5-10 hours per week. Weekly meetings with OTT staff and other interns are mandatory and last a maximum of 1-2 hours. There will be a mandatory boot camp the week of August 17th – August 21st and will last approximately 2 hours.

Pay for this position will be commensurate with educational level and experience.

So, if you are looking for on-campus work where you can truly help make a difference, don’t wait any longer. Apply now!

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Congratulations Dr. Marcus Ashford! Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:32:01 +0000 Read More]]> The Office for Technology Transfer would like to congratulate Dr. Marcus Ashford on receiving a patent entitled “ON-BOARD VAPOR RECOVERY SYSTEM AND APPARATUS BACKGROUND.”

His invention involves a sensor that would detect and capture vapor, like hydrocarbons, that escape from fuel storage tanks in motorized vehicles. The vapor that escapes from fuel tanks is often very harmful to the environment. Dr. Ashford’s invention will capture this vapor so that it can be used as a fuel source for actions such as cold starting the vehicle. 60-95% of hydrocarbon emissions occur the first 60-90 seconds after a vehicle is cold started. Dr. Ashford submits that his sensor can eliminate the hydrocarbon emission altogether.

Since this technology can be easily retro fitted to any motor, or built into new ones, it has applications in the automotive industry.

Dr. Ashford is a professor at The University of Alabama in the Mechanical Engineering department. His research focuses on alternative fuel, advanced combustion engines, and methods to reduce emissions and improve efficiency.

For more information on Dr. Ashford’s technology, or any of the other technologies at OTT, please visit


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