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Beyond the Senses

Inside Sears think[box], the university’s 50,000-square-foot innovation space, students and the public use technology—from 3D printers to laser cutters and more—to create the next big thing, or simply their next passion.

One key to a successful invention is to solve a nagging problem.

For students in the law school’s interdisciplinary entrepreneurship program known as Fusion, the irritant was barking dogs.

Their solution? A relaxing scent.

Open to graduate and professional students in law, management, engineering and science, Fusion aims to give students the knowledge and skills needed to evaluate and develop potential commercial ventures based on complex technologies. In the 2018–19 academic year, the program included time in the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], where students could learn technical fundamentals and design prototypes to accompany their pitches.

“Students typically learn how to be professionals in ‘their lane.’ Their value is extremely limited unless they take those blinders off.”

—Ted Theofrastous
Fusion co-founder

For the team trying to calm howling hounds, Sears think[box] provided the space and technology necessary to turn a popular at-home diffuser into a dual-chamber system with sensors and a microcontroller. Their creation, Lavender Retriever, releases lavender oil, known for reducing stress, and dog-soothing pheromones when its sensors detect barking.

Just as important as the free access to top tech, team member Rebecca Lindhorst (LAW ’18) explained, was the group’s disparate expertise, united by the Fusion program.

“Because we all had different backgrounds,” she said, “we were able to pick up ideas from disciplines that we wouldn’t have thought of before.”

As adjunct law faculty and Fusion co- founder Ted Theofrastous explained: “Our hope is that the students take these analytical tools with them and apply them in their careers in the broader ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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