April 28, 2011 (Durham, NC)—A cross-functional team of graduate students at North Carolina State University recently received an award for their achievement in product design in the field of medical devices.
The Carolinas chapter of the Product Development and Management Association awarded the NC State team as the winner of its graduate product design and development competition at its annual Innovate Carolina conference on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on April 15, 2011. The award’s sponsor, Charlotte-based innovation firm Enventys, presented the team with a product development services package valued at $8,000.
The team, representing NC State’s Product Innovation Lab, developed a product called the Fluency Assistant, a portable and unobtrusive medical device that utilizes speech recognition technology to track the improvement of stuttering patterns using tools taught by Speech-Language Pathologists. The Fluency Assistant development group consisted of six students. Victor Conner, undergraduate student and Sean Jalleh, graduate student, are both in the school’s industrial design program. Caesar Qin represents the school’s graduate program in industrial engineering. Ben Furr, Phil Pearson, and Ty Hagler were all students the Jenkins Graduate School of Management’s master of business administration program.
“I am so proud of our team for taking first prize at the PDMA competition,” stated Hagler, principal at Durham, NC innovation management firm Trig Innovation. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of talented people—it represents the power of bringing together teams from diverse backgrounds to collaborate on the complex problems of developing a marketable new product.“
People who stutter will use the device to improve self-awareness, practice techniques taught in therapy, and interact with their respective Speech-Language Pathologist or peers who stutter. It will be effective for varying levels of severity. Speech-Language Pathologists will, in turn, use the device to track the progress of their patients outside of the typical clinical setting .It will allow the clinicians to view the results prior to subsequent therapy sessions, enable them to plan more individualized treatment sessions and provide consistency for their clients throughout the course of therapy.
The student team has partnered with two professional Speech-Language Pathologists, Lynn Fox, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Rita Thurman, coordinator of the Raleigh, NC chapter of the National Stuttering Association and Board Recognized Specialist in Fluency Disorders, to collaborate in the ongoing development of the Fluency Assistant. Both of these leaders in the field have already made significant contributions to the invention and have a role to play in guiding the future development of the product to ensure it will be a useful tool for thousands of patients who stutter.
The Fluency Assistant team has also partnered with Office of Technology Development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to engage medical device companies in the licensing of the intellectual property.
About the North Carolina State University Product Innovation Lab
The North Carolina State University Product Innovation Lab is a multidisciplinary course that convenes students from the College of Management, College of Engineering, and College of Design to form teams to develop marketable products. The Lab has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the Top 10 most innovative business school courses in America.
About Trig Innovation
Trig Innovation is a Durham, NC-based innovation management consulting firm dedicated to delivering a toolkit of new product development services and strategies to inventors and corporate product teams.