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Our Fall 2020 Inventors Practicum Courses engaged students in creative solutions design for authentic challenges in Energy Industry Analytics, Personal Health Product Design, and Sustainability Solutions.

Thank you to our Sponsors from ConocoPhillips, HHMI, the Schmidt-Trucahrd Foundation, and the Office of Sustainability's Green Fund Grant and our mentors from ConocoPhillips, Austin Technology Incubator, Dell Medical School's Texas Health Catalyst, University Housing & Dining, Landscape & Integrated Building Services, FRI Urban Ecosystems Lab, and Environmental Health & Safety.

Campus Sustainability Course

The Fall 2020 Inventors for Campus Sustainability course was sponsored by UT’s Office of Sustainability through a Green Fund Grant It was taught by Erin Keys, Director of Sustainability for the Austin Technology Incubator. Over the course of the semester, the students tackled problems such as face mask waste reduction, zero waste metrics research & evaluation, and cost-effective water sensor development. The Face Mask team designed a buyback program and a new ambassadors program to promote the use of reusable masks on campus. The Zero Waste team designed a plan to collect various waste-related metrics at UT and designed a dashboard to motivate zero waste initiatives on campus. The Environmental Water Sensor team researched and designed a continuous, water-quality detection system and sensor that is significantly cheaper and more user-friendly than the current solution.

The students in this class learned to combine scientific research methods with user experience research and foundational business knowledge to come up with innovative solutions for current challenges regarding campus sustainability.

Students of all backgrounds interested in sustainability and entrepreneurship should consider taking this course! It is a great way to practice interdisciplinary research methods, develop your presentation skills, and collaborate with peers across various majors on campus. What you learn in this course will benefit you no matter the career path you choose.

Thanks to Neil Kaufman (University Housing & Dining), Lindsey Hutchison (Zero Waste in Integrated Landscape & Building Services), Lindsey Yazbek (EHS), and Dr. Stuart Reichler (FRI Urban Ecosystems Lab) for their excellent project mentorship and support of our students! And of course to Erin Keys (ATI) for her instruction!

Healthcare Innovation Practicum

This semester, students in the Health Innovation Practicum Course of the Inventors Program had the opportunity to learn from celebrated faculty of the Dell Medical School’s Texas Health Catalyst. Dr. Nishi Viswanathan and Jay Brown lead the class and taught them about many facets and key players at different levels of the healthcare industry. Throughout the semester students tackled the incredibly relevant issue of face mask design. They pitched all kinds of potential products such as masks designed to facilitate communication, masks with antibacterial materials/sensors and masks with adhesive strips to prevent eyewear from fogging up. One team even chose to take on another challenge and designed a combination antiseptic and bandaging package to be used on the go.

Students learned about problem discovery and user experiences through a series of interviews and presentations. They were also exposed to a number of resources on campus that can help them develop upon their projects in the future.

The teams were able to speak with, network with and receive critical feedback from a number of prominent healthcare professionals. A number of students from the course have even been able to join a team working with Factor Health, which is a CoVenture of Dell Medical School that targets upstream factors impacting healthcare in communities throughout Texas. Any students, regardless of major, year or career interests who want to learn more about the healthcare industry should definitely sign up for this course if it is offered in the future.

Thank you to Texas Health Catalyst's Dr. Viswanathan and Jay Brown for their instruction and mentorship!

Oil and Gas Data Analytics Class

This class was sponsored by ConocoPhillips, and challenged students to address important questions faced in the day-to-day operations of an oil and gas company. The class was led by Dr. Jesse Pisel, who instructed students on the fundamentals of developing a business model, and also provided support on the technical aspects of their projects. ConocoPhillips posed several challenges to the students, and provided the necessary datasets for their analysis. Students were tasked with finding out how different factors in their datasets impacted the problem statements. They also implemented various machine learning models in order to find the best methods to predict future trends/behaviors.

Four student teams worked on identifying the types and frequency of failures experienced by rod pumps commonly used for artificial lift in oil wells. One team developed methods of identifying the best performing contracted crews hired by ConocoPhillips, and the factors that determined their efficiency. One team took on the challenge of determining the sequence of completing wells that would allow for the optimal production.

Throughout the course of the semester students worked on a Minimal Viable Product of their solutions. Many consulted with mentors at ConocoPhillips, who provided the domain knowledge to augment their projects. All six groups also created interactive dashboards to visualize their solutions.

Thank you to the incredible team of data scientists and engineers at ConocoPhillips led by Andy Flowers, Director of Analytics, for your mentorship! Thank you also Dr. Michael Pyrcz and Dr. Jesse Pisel for their mentorship and instruction!