UW Tacoma Students Awarded Prestigious NSF I-Corps Grants

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The $2,500 grants will help students develop a customer base for their innovations.

Four groups of University of Washington Tacoma students have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Grants.  The NSF I-Corps grants are designed to help students and/or faculty take their ideas and make them commercially viable. 

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The $2,500 grants will be used to solicit input from potential customers with the goal of evaluating an idea’s business value. The UW in Seattle serves as an I-Corps site which distributes federal funds through its CoMotion program. CoMotion acts as a hub connecting entrepreneurs to resources both locally and around the world.

Here is an overview of the students and their projects.


Students: Damiene Stewart, Rucha Nimbalkar, Jumana Karwa, Samir Sbai, Pooja Vade, Xinhe Wang, and Sri Vignesh are all graduate students with the Institute of Technology.

Project:  The team received a grant to further cultivate a project called iTrajectory. The group developed the idea for iTrajectory during a geographic information systems class taught by Dr. Mohamed Ali. “The technology is an innovate approach to processing geographical information about the proximity of friends and the locations they visit,” said Ali. 

Speech Automation

Students: Mark Dela Rosa, Javier Serrano, Ren-Wei Larry Chang, Mae Oreiro, and Jonathan Suh are also students with the Institute of Technology.From left to right: Mark Dela Rosa, Javier Serrano, Ren-Wei Larry Chang, Mae Oreiro, and Jonathan Suh.

Project:  The students developed a speech automation program. “Our program is able to interact with your installed programs on your computer as well as browse through the internet using only voice commands," said Chang. The group hopes the software can be used to help people with disabilities or those who are not well-versed with a computer.

Photo-based Reviews

Students: KoreFrom left to right: Thomas Kuljam, Korey Padilla, and Jim Thatcher.  Not pictured: Derek Youngy Padilla is a graduate student in the Urban Studies program. His team is comprised of Urban Studies faculty member Jim Thatcher, Center for Data Science project manager Derek Young and VIBE Director Thomas Kuljam. 

Project: Padilla and his team received the grant for their mobile app. The program functions as a kind of photo-based review system. Users will be able to view and save geotagged pictures of businesses and use a map to see which is closest. “Receiving this grant is really exciting. It means a group of people at CoMotion, the Buerk Entrepreneurial Center [part of UW Seattle’s Foster School of Business], and NSF thought we had a pretty good idea and that it was worth investing some resources for customer research and development,” said Padilla.

Monitoring Blood Pressure

Students: Jeff Lytle, Mindy Huynyh, William Jensen and Jared Herdlevar are seniors in the Institute of Technology. Sarah Lytle, a recent graduate from the Institute, is also on the team. From left to right: Jeff Lytle, Mindy Huynyh, William Jensen, and Jared Herdlevar.  Not pictured: Sarah Lytle.  Photo by Cody Char.

Project: The group of computer engineering majors received the grant to help build a customer base around a device that uses a new technique to monitor blood pressure.  “Heart disease is a big problem and we wanted to find out if we, as computer engineers, could help this problem in any way,” said Jeff Lytle. The prototype uses light to measure pulse transit time. The information is relayed to an app that records and stores the data.

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / March 17, 2016
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu.