The ASU Founders Lab provides Barrett, The Honors college students with ideas and opportunities for entrepreneurial honors for thesis work
Barrett, The Honors College students seeking ideas, technical assistance, and opportunities to develop their thesis and business ventures can find them at Arizona State University’s Founders Lab.
In 2019, more than 35 Barrett students took part in the Founders Lab. Last year there were 98. In 2021, more than 100 students are expected to take part.
Barrett, The Honors College students (from left) Gage Reitzel, Aira Sadiasa and Marina Filipek have teamed up at the ASU Founders Lab on a project called Water Works.
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Founders Lab is a “thesis incubator” where students get thesis ideas that they can develop into innovative and interesting projects, said Jared Byrne, Project manager of the Founders Lab.
“Students get a dynamic, interactive, applied experience that they can bring their own creativity to,” said Byrne.
How does Founders Lab work?
Founders Lab is a team-based, experiential Barrett Honors Thesis / Creative Project that empowers students to “find their inner entrepreneur” and start a new business. Participants design and apply unique marketing and sales strategies, as well as business and financial models. The students work in teams of at least three people. Students from all fields of study can take part.
Founders Lab provides attendees with a thesis committee, business resources, connections to industry networks, mentors, and access to resources that will help them succeed, Byrne said.
Gage Reitzel, an aspiring fourth-year Barrett student with double degrees in global health and psychology with a certificate in social science research methods, attended the Founders Lab last year.
He worked on a team with Marina Filipek, who received her bachelor’s degree in finance and business law in May, and Aira Sadiasa, an aspiring fourth-year student majoring in computer information systems, on a project called Water Works, which deals with water uncertainty and its Risks, including impairment of health and psychosocial well-being.
Reitzel said water insecurity due to natural and man-made disasters is a growing problem worldwide.
According to a project description by Reitzel, the waterworks is focusing on a new device for the delivery of water, food and medicine, which is intended to alleviate the hardship and uncertainty between the interruption of a water supply and its restoration.
The device, known as the Personal Water Reclamation System or PWRS, is a water purification device originally developed by NASA engineer Michael Flynn for use in space missions. PWRS is a filter bag that uses forward osmosis to produce high quality distilled water. This process does not require electricity to function and relies on the evaporation and condensation of water molecules flowing through a membrane.
The portable and lightweight PWRS can provide clean and safe water in the event of long-term water and power outages and allows the addition of Enfamil baby formula, Pedialyte electrolyte drink and medication.
“I have achieved my lifelong dream of working with NASA in an operational role. These engineers were some of my greatest heroes, ”said Reitzel.
Reitzel, Filipek and Sadiasa took part in the ASU Venture Devils funding competition with their project and were awarded Social Impact Scholars.
Reitzel said this year the team began working with Medline Industries, the largest privately held health care product manufacturer and distributor in the United States. They also joined up with Suresh Shenoy, former chairman of the National Capital Region of the American Red Cross and president of the Wheels Global Foundation, an organization that aims to educate the public and educate new technologies on water purification and finding new water sources, to discuss how Water Works can be used to alleviate water scarcity in India.
The Water Works team also presented their project to the Deans Council of the WP Carey School of Business.
Reitzel said of the most important lessons he learned at the Founders Lab:
- The idea of failing quickly and not holding onto it is a hallmark of innovation by Dan Purtell, Director of Innovation at the British Standards Institute.
- The right people make or break ideas and experiences, and you need a team that gives you everything directly and that you can really sit down and work with.
- Especially during the coronavirus pandemic and in other situations in which many things require your attention, it is important to maintain momentum and traction through consistent use.
- There is often a perceived separation of science and the real world, but the important thing to remember is that if one believes in its mission, a project need not remain an educational exercise.