Congratulations to 2019 Student Project Grant Winners

On Wednesday, November 20, our Tech Hub Student Project Grant finalists pitched their project ideas to a packed crowed with representatives from across the university. Presenters shared how their innovative uses for technology will solve timely and serious challenges facing our society today. 

Audience members voted for their favorite pitches to receive funding, and the judges deliberated to determine the top picks and funding allocation. Congratulations to the following 2019 Tech Hub Student Project Grant winners.

Riding the VR Bus: Development of a Virtual Reality Bus for Community Mobility Training | Sarah E. Anderson

Public bus systems are vital for burgeoning urban communities, but this mode of transportation is not always accessible to everyone, particularly individuals with cognitive disabilities. That’s where Sarah Anderson’s project comes in. Sarah plans to develop a virtual reality program to train individuals with cognitive impairments to use the bus safely and effectively.

The primary goal of Riding the VR Bus is to simulate the following tasks using a commercial head-mounted display: boarding a bus, riding a bus and disembarking at the appropriate stop using an accurate bus replica, true COTA route and video recordings of the route environment. By simulating the transit process virtually, patrons can learn to ride the bus in a controlled environment that provides a safe, immersive and realistic transit experience.

The SOAR Initiative | Pranav Padmanabhan, Dennis Pales, Varshita Chirumamilla, Yasmeen Quadri, Larkin Cleland and Peter Campanelli

Despite increased media attention and financial resources devoted to the opioid epidemic, Franklin County is on track for almost the same number of overdose deaths in 2019, with an even greater proportion now caused by fentanyl. The SOAR Initiative aspires to mitigate the opioid epidemic by providing life-saving Fentanyl Test Strips to local homeless shelters. In January 2020, SOAR will initiate the pilot Fentanyl Test Strip distribution program at Faith Mission, a downtown Columbus homeless shelter and clinic.

To multiply the power of the Test Strips distributed, SOAR plans to launch a Bad Batch text alert system. Users who receive Test Strips will be asked to report the results (positive or negative) either online or at a clinic. When fentanyl is detected, SMS alerts will go out via a mobile app to a list of securely stored phone numbers gathered through an opt-in subscriber system. This information will also help first responders better prepare for overdoses that may occur.

119 | Jennifer Schlegel and Anders Sondergaard

In Columbus alone, nearly 12,000 community members suffer from at least one chronic illness. This population frequently deals with unnecessary emergency calls made on their behalf by well-meaning bystanders, causing a financial and social burden on these individuals and their families. 119 is a subscription-based service for use on a smartwatch or smartphone that notifies bystanders of how to respond in the event of a health issue.

In its current prototype iteration, 119 is manually triggered by a user with a chronic illness at the start of a symptomatic event. Further development seeks to use biometric indicators to trigger the system. On-screen prompts explain the situation to the bystander and provide the appropriate response to the incident. 119 gives users control of their health by redefining the medical emergency.

Plastic Across the World | H. Jai Tiarks

The goal of Plastic Across the World is to recycle and repurpose plastic found in protected aquatic environments across two disparate communities: one in rural Ohio and one in rural Uganda. Plastic Across the World will build on an existing project, Water Across the World, which aims to educate about water; however, it largely ignores the role plastic plays in affecting water quality and anthropogenic-induced change to aquatic ecosystems.

Jai’s goal is to evaluate how plastic enters these freshwater environments and to critically consider how discarded plastic can be repurposed or reused using STEM. One way Jai plans to reuse the recyclable materials is by melting the plastic to create 3D printer filler. The filler will then be used to create school supplies for students in Uganda. Jai will work closely with each community in Ohio and Uganda to teach children about water quality and sustainability.

Maji Marwa Monitoring System | Daniel Ma, Vikas Munjal, Mike Reese, Patrick Sours and Alejandro Duque

Access to freshwater has invaluable social, cultural and economic impacts for communities across the world. Over the past four years, Buckeye engineers on the The Maji Marwa Project in Tanzania have built three rainwater harvesting tanks and established a strong rapport with the community. The Maji Marwa Monitoring System seeks to design, prototype and build water quality and water usage sensors on those rainwater tanks and the Pangani River.

Data collected from the sensors will aid Buckeye engineers in designing sustainable water treatment and distribution systems in Marwa. By fostering a strong relationship with the community, Ohio State students plan to educate and empower the people of Marwa to monitor and allocate water resources as needed going forward.

TAPES | Studio Vicieux

Reviving the art of home video, the interactive film installation TAPES welcomes you to the family of two transgender individuals re-contextualizing their experiences while pursuing gender transition. Viewers of the installation will be able to splice, scramble and mix video to their liking, creating their own stories mixed from animated film and archival VHS tapes. The goal of TAPES is to allow the viewer a guided journey between past and present, where they experience curated video art and create their own narrative.

TAPES records over material that engages with gendered expectations, specifically animated children’s films. While recording over this material, there is a literal transition between appropriated and original content, which is digitized and sewn together with archival footage. The transition from analog to digital (binary) information discusses the struggle to move beyond rigid social constructs to represent self authentically.

Proteo-Search: Eliminating Human Disease A Byte at a Time | Austin Underwood

The science of proteogenomics is growing at an extremely rapid pace. Gene editing is being used to treat rare genetic diseases and will eventually be used to treat other diseases, such as cancer, that have genetic origins. Thus, it is increasingly more important that we understand the effects that genetic changes have on our bodies. Enter Proteo-Search, a cloud-based application to analyze complex proteogenomic data for diagnosis and new drug development.

This high-performance cloud-based computing tool will close the gap between data generation and data analysis, accelerating our understanding of cancer and providing a knowledge base for the development of new cancer therapies. The final output will allow for gene/protein identification, quantification and integration of our knowledge of human diseases. Proteo-Search’s user-friendly interface will allow bioinformatics experts and lay users alike to employ the tool and revolutionize how we see data

Zero by Design | Rhys Gruebel

A new approach to economic development called the Circular Economy proposes a different path forward than the linear “take-make-waste” model. In the Circular Economy, waste is eliminated by design through holistic approaches to manufacturing and consumption. Through a web-based, multi-media storytelling experience, Zero by Design will strive to spark a Circular Economy revolution at Ohio State.

Creator Rhys Gruebel argues that Ohio State’s waste management policy relies too heavily on recycling, and policymakers should expand it to include waste-elimination strategies based on Circular Economy principles. Zero by Design will raise awareness of these issues through a dynamic web-based, multi-media tool that includes educational videos, photographs, audio recordings, infographics, maps and written essays.

Thank you to all who applied, presented and were involved in voting. We were blown away by the quality and innovation evident in the proposals we received. We will be sharing the progress of the grantees throughout the next semester.

Please reach out to Tech Hub ( if your department would like to collaborate on Student Project Grants in the future. If you are interested in grant funding for your tech project, our next round of applications will open August 2020.