ERC-RMB Students Attend Workshop on Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare in India

Outcome/accomplishment: In October 2012, a seven-member team from the Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials (ERC-RMB) participated in a week-long workshop on Disruptive Innovation at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) in the city of Chennai, India. The team included three PhD students, one undergraduate student and three faculty members from North Carolina A&T State University and the University of Pittsburgh; partners in the ERC. IITM is ERC-RMB’s international outreach partner. The ERC participants attended workshop presentations and interacted with the subject matter experts. They visited a local biomedical research incubator and toured a spectrum of hospitals to learn first-hand the practice of health care in a population-dense developing country experiencing huge economic growth rate. Plans were made for follow-up research and educational collaborations.

Impact/benefits: Disruptive innovations represent a combination of appropriate technology with a socioeconomically-appropriate business plan. As the economy of developed nations has slowed considerably over the past five years, several developing high-population nations including India, China and Brazil have continued a high level of GDP growth. These markets represent high potential for export of US goods and services, especially in high technology goods and services. American engineering students and researchers, especially the entrepreneurs and innovators that Gen-3 ERCs are trying to train, need to be cognizant of the scale of the need, the economy and the infrastructure, all of which strongly affect the choice of appropriate technology and the need for right-sizing rather than supersizing. This exposure for our students starts them thinking about global needs and opportunities for their research and entrepreneurship and thus makes them more valuable as contributors to American industry and society.

Explanation/ background:  The student participants were strategically selected for this exploratory international initiative to maximize diversity and broader impact. They included one undergraduate student of chemical engineering (Brittany Sloan), and three doctoral students (male) of biomedical engineering (Da Tren Chou) and mechanical engineering (Leon White and V. Giridharan) from across two ERC partner institutions. All students have a leadership role in ERC-RMB’s Student Leadership Council (SLC). The workshop organizer and facilitator, Prof. Venkatesh Balasubramanian, is one of RMB’s international collaborators. An Associate Professor of Engineering Design at IITM, he heads that Institution’s Rehabilitation Bioengineering Research Group. This group is a collaborative of faculty members from four engineering departments, and a large number of graduate and undergraduate students. The technical presentations on progress and initiatives in health care technologies that focus on scalability, ease of deployment, and a low level of dependence on extensive sterile infrastructure.

Workshop at IITM Department of Engineering Design

 Visit to IITM Research Park (off-campus)

Visit to Healthcare Technology Innovation Center within IITM Research Park