Pitching in for a High-flying idea
Felipe Gomez del Campo arrived at Case Western Reserve with a winning high school science project. Today, the Case School of Engineering student is founder and CEO of FGC Plasma Solutions. He has a patent pending, has garnered more than $135,000 in awards and other support, and even earned a trip to meet President Barack Obama. How did he get from a Bunsen burner experiment in the backyard to speaking at the White House? First: his own intelligence, initiative and ingenuity. Then: assistance from CWRU’s Blackstone LaunchPad, its Intellectual Property Venture Clinic and Sears think[box] innovation hub, and an initial gift from an alumnus.Gomez del Campo’s device injects a precise amount of plasma into jet fuel to allow the engine to burn more efficiently. These days, he’s refining his technology at NASA Glenn Research Center. If he succeeds, the device will lower fuel consumption and reduce emissions in airliners and industrial gas turbines. Who knows—someday he might be one of those alums investing in student startups.
Felipe Gomez del Campo isn’t the only one to benefit from campus resources for student entrepreneurs. The year also saw budding business minds develop robotic teddy bears, hospital bedside cleaning devices and a pedal-powered machine to charge cell phones in areas without electricity. There’s even a big-data-analysis system to improve medical treatment. All told, our students attracted more than $200,000 in local and national competitions. The success teaches their classmates a key lesson: Product pitches really can pay off.
The law school’s Intellectual Property Venture Clinic gives students a win-win: Hopeful inventors get essential information, and aspiring advisers get practice offering guidance. Part of the newly launched Spangenberg Center for Law, Technology & the Arts, the clinic also offers interdisciplinary educational programs where students from different schools work together to develop an idea, devise a business strategy and address legal issues involved in commercialization.
Michael Goldberg wants to introduce you to someone you should know. The venture-capitalist-turned-management-faculty-member revels in linking students with professionals across the globe. They might get advice…or an investment…or even a job. Now, Goldberg has expanded his networks exponentially: His new massive open online course, or MOOC, has enrolled nearly 100,000 students in 190 countries, with translations into 14 languages. His latest connection? Putting engineering students here in touch with a hopeful entrepreneur in Namibia.