Lutgert College of Business in the News
This is the text and photo from a story in FGCU's Pinnacle magazine, Fall 2013
Engineering students take care of business … and vice versa
Byline: Keith Gibson
It’s a story of innovation and ingenuity: Identify a need, brainstorm, test concepts, build a prototype, sell the idea and begin production and distribution.
But this story gets better.
The product has game-changing potential. It gives disabled people independence in therapeutic exercise. It’s cost-saving for advocates dependent on donations to help those people.
The bright minds that birthed this invention win the Florida Venture Forum Statewide Business Plan Competition in Orlando – outthinking, outplanning, outperforming and just plain outworking bigger, longer-established peers.
And the best part?
This story evolved at FGCU, where along the path between Holmes and Lutgert halls, collaboration between the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering and Lutgert College of Business formed a unique team of two forward-thinking professors and enterprising students.
“Not only is it a great business model, but the product helps people who need it,” Stoddard said.
In May, Kauanui and Stoddard accompanied the six-student team to Orlando, where, like proud parents, they watched FGCU team presenter Robby Donnelly “knock it out of the park,” as Stoddard put it, going up against teams stacked with graduate students from Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida, Central Florida and Rollins.
Now, the students want to take their patent-pending AquaRamp into the marketplace. They’ve set up a company, Dynamic Reach, and are looking for a local manufacturer to produce their Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant invention, which they plan to sell for $3,000 – after they “donate the very first one to Goodwill,” according to senior bioengineering major Scott Kelly, the company’s senior design officer. Similar devices on the market cost up to $10,000.
Most significant is that where current pool ramps require up to three people to operate, “Anyone with functional use of their arms can operate our ramp,” Kelly said. “It gives them more independence.”
The win-win deal also opens the students themselves to independence by expanding their classroom project into a real business. “The contest wasn’t an end, but a means,” said senior civil engineering major John Baker, Dynamic Reach’s CEO.
The higher-education part of this story is ending, but the real-world chapter is only beginning.