New medical technology ‘all starts with an idea’ at Solutions Challenge

February 24, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

Story and photos by Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau  

Healing broken bones outside the body.

Continually monitoring blood sugar in diabetics.

Regenerating aging facial skin.

These ideas may sound like science fiction, but they are within the realm of possibility in the rapidly advancing field of medical device technology, industry leaders told Grand Canyon University students and faculty Tuesday at the 2016 Solutions Challenge University Roadshow.

The two-hour event in GCU’s STEM building was intended to ignite ideas and encourage student-faculty teams to sign up for this year’s Solution Challenge 2016, run by BioAccel, a non-profit, Arizona-based business incubator.

The challenge is for teams of engineering, business and medical majors to identify — and solve — a current medical problem using new technology. Winners in the Dec. 1 showdown could receive up to $100,000 in seed funding.

Pam Goux, with Medtronics, demonstrates an early generation pacemaker.

Pam Goux, with Medtronic, demonstrates an early generation pacemaker.

“It all starts with an idea,” said Dr. Michael Mobley, executive director of GCU’s Center for Integrated Sciences, Engineering and Technology. “We want you, as students, to get really involved.”

The event is a first for GCU’s fledgling engineering program, which debuted last fall.

Pam Goux, associate talent acquisition specialist at Medtronic, the Tempe-based medical technology company and challenge sponsor, said the company is excited to work with GCU’s future engineers.

“We’re at the beginning stages, but we’re hoping to develop a relationship,” Goux said. Among advantages: GCU students will be invited to apply for some of the 16 internships the company offers yearly.

Medtronic displayed early and current generations of medical technology, and the differences were apparent, especially in size: The first pacemakers were enormous compared to today’s miniature versions.

Medtronic founder Earl Bakken started the company in 1949 after he was challenged to come up with a pacemaker that didn’t have to be plugged into a wall, Goux said. In those days, if the electricity went out, heart patients died.

Bakken developed a battery-operated pacemaker, Goux said, and today, Medtronic is one of the world’s largest developers of medical technology.

Goux displaying a more recent generation pacemaker.

Goux displaying a more recent pacemaker.

Several students said afterward they are considering entering the Solutions Challenge, and others said they will apply for a Medtronic internship.

Tayler Shurley, a freshman mechanical engineering major and Engineering Club president, said she enjoyed the networking opportunity and will pursue a club tour of Medtronic’s Tempe laboratory.

Students who want to enter the Solutions Challenge should apply through the BioAccel web page. Pre-submission deadline is April 30, and the full application is due Sept. 15. Finalists will present ideas to a “SharkTank”-like Scorpion Pit on Dec. 1.

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or [email protected] 


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