Academics & Research News

Bauer students win first place, $10,000 at global competition

Four Bauer College of Business students won the San Diego State University’s LeanModel Start-up Competition and $10,000 for their business plan focused on smart cement technology in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The global competition’s motive is to assist and reward student-based start-ups that utilize both a solid business model and customer testing mentality.

Marketing and entrepreneurship senior Dylan Senter, one of the four Bauer students, said the group’s work was not easy like any other project, and there were obstacles they had to overcome in order to succeed.

“We have had many obstacles and road bumps along the way, just like any start-up business will,” Senter said. “The difference with our team is that we never stop or slow down.”

The group maintained their efforts and the Division of Research and the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship helped bring their idea into fruition. What started as a business plan for a contest became a working business plan for a company.

“This experience is absolutely amazing. Due to the relationship that the DOR has with WCE, we have been able to work on our technology, smart cement,” Senter said.

Entrepreneurship senior Ody De La Paz, another student on the team, said there were plenty of sleepless nights when creating the business plan. They had work and other classes to worry about, so they could only work on their project early each morning.

“At night is mostly when we crunched on the business model and business plan, at 4 or 5 in the morning,” De La Paz said.

Senter said the help from civil engineering professor Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan allowed the team to learn and improve its business plan.

“Vipu is very passionate about his sciences, and he is working to develop amazing technologies that can change the world,” Senter said.

Vipulanandan created the smart cement concept and was awarded $2.6 million for further development on the project. After Vipulanandan patented his idea and intellectual property, Bauer  students become involved with the project.

Vipulanandan’s background includes environmental, modeling and geotechnical engineering. His work focuses on engineering and research that enhances the engineering field and business community.

“I developed this new concept, and it is about sensing. I modified the cement like our skin so that if someone touches you it will tell you someone is touching you,” Vipulanandan said.

Vipulanandan said cement and concrete are not the same. The smart cement tells a person how much weight or pressure is in the well. Cement is a small percentage of concrete.

The student group and Vipulanandan had meetings and presentations where they would give tours of the labs and apply science in the real world. Bauer helped the students by rehearsing their presentation at the Valenti School of Communication in front of professors and personnel, hoping to give them insight on what to expect in the competition.

Senter is appreciative of the opportunities Bauer has given their group and company.

“We have started a real company thanks to this technology, and our team has (the) full intent to grow this company at a large scale,” Senter said.

Vipulanandan said smart cement will help people environmentally and have the potential to save human lives in the future. By being able to predict and measure resistance, smart cement will have the capability to detect any problems in the cement and possibly prevent future accidents.

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