Winners of Maverick Entrepreneurship Competition Announced

Thursday, Sep 05, 2019

The College of Engineering was well-represented in the final pitch competition of the 2019 Maverick Entrepreneurship Program and Award, with three of the five cash prizes going to engineering students.

Ali Farzbod and his company, Nano Liquid Solutions, and Latasha Starr and her business partner Ariel Bowman and their company, ESTe²M Builders, earned $25,000 in funding for their companies, while David Heber James earned $15,000 for his company, Green Coati Envent System.

Through a gift from a generous alumnus, the Maverick Entrepreneur Program and Award Fund provides significant financial support for the entrepreneurial efforts of business and engineering students at UTA. Phase I of the program began in fall 2018, with winners earning up to $10,000 in funding and advancing to Phase II, which culminated in the final pitch competition.

Farzbod, who earned his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering in 2018, created Nano Liquid Solutions to provide a blood testing service via a stand-alone device that only needs a single drop of blood to evaluate multiple blood components. The core technology of the company's device is a spin-off of a National Science Foundation award which focused on a novel microfluidic screening platform integrated with multiple functional components for various biochemical and analytical processes to be developed based on electrowetting-on-dielectric digital microfluidic principles. The initial blood test panels are the basic metabolic panel, lipid panel, mineral, and vitamin panels. The company's primary goal is to provide and maintain its devices in healthcare facilities, pharmacies, senior residential places, and charged the payers by the number of blood tests. The long-term plan is to establish a direct-to-patient subscription model, paid for by individuals or third-party payers, and provide patients with nutrition and medical suggestions based on trends in their blood test results over their lifetime.

Starr, a doctoral student in the Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering Department, and Bowman, a doctoral student in the Mathematics Department, founded ESTe²M Builders to further Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Math (STe²M) education through a creative approach that provides children with what they love most: engaging experiences and thrilling adventures. They do this through implementation of the “C3 Model” when designing activities, with the goal of ensuring that each activity will build Confidence, boost Creativity and develop Competency.

James, a senior in the Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering Department. His Green Coati Envent System is a smart HVAC system designed to optimize how a home is heated and cooled. This is accomplished by only heating and cooling where people, pets, and other priorities are. This is done via vents with a sensor cluster that can open and close flow to the rooms in a home, along with a central unit that ties the vents together. The central unit analyzes sensor inputs from the different vents and balances heating/cooling loads for the home, along with where activity is likely to be. Using machine learning, inputs are optimized to save homeowners money through lower energy usage.