CCEW Team Presents Recommendation For OU-Developed Radar

By Sarah Smith, Oklahoma Daily. Read the original article.

A team of students is working on commercializing an OU-invented radar that could help save lives and money by alerting oil platform workers to dangerous winds.

The technology commercialization team at the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth is currently working on a plan to market a radar to oil companies with deepwater platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, said team member Allie Kallman, letters and mathematics senior.

The team considered the oil market because of the dangers of running deepwater platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Companies rely on helicopters to transport workers and resources to the platforms. However, the unpredictable weather in the Gulf of Mexico sometimes prevents the helicopters from landing or causes crashes, which can result in both injuries and a waste of money, Kallman said.

“The Gulf of Mexico has really finicky weather systems; it’s really uniquely bad,” she said. “By improving [weather] prediction, we can save [the oil companies] the time and the waste and the potential helicopter crashes.”

Samantha Wong, team leader and international business senior, said the team was assigned to assess possible secondary markets for the radar and considered markets from golf courses to airports. The team will make commercialization recommendations to OU and potential licensing partners for this radar.

Traditionally, similar radar systems are used in national weather services or TV towers, said Wong.

However, Kallman said the unique innovations behind the radar with which her team is working is “super efficient and opens up a bunch of different markets.”

One of the added benefits of this radar is its potential to ensure workers are operating in the safest environment possible, Wong said.

The team consists of Wong, team leader; and four team members, including Kallman; Andrew Belliveau, economics and international business senior; Julie Bock, industrial engineering junior; and Sam Parrill, aerospace engineering junior. Even with two business students, the radar commercialization project has posed challenges to finding the best path to market for the radar.

Belliveau said he thought the most difficult aspect of the project was “just really finding out solid information about the market itself. How big it is, who are the major players, how they buy the radar, how much they’re willing to pay.”

Parts of the marketing plan the team must develop are a business model and a financial model, in addition to simply understanding the technology with which the team is working.

They spent a lot of time at the beginning of the semester with the members of the Advanced Radar Research Center learning about the core innovation behind the radar system, Wong said. The team also has taken a field trip to see the radar itself.

“[The team] ask[s] tough questions and leave[s] no stone unturned,” said Mackenzie Britt, director of Research Campus Corporate Engagement at OU and mentor for the team.

Britt, who said he joined OU’s Corporate Engagement Office last year and has held leadership positions in three Boston-based companies, is a mentor for CCEW for the first time this semester.

Team member Julie Bock, industrial engineering junior, said “[Britt] has been really helpful with me with the financial aspect because he knows a lot about finance. As an engineering major, that’s been a new thing for me.”

Though the team normally meets at least two nights a week for class and other meetings, Kallman said, “there are definitely weeks where if we don’t see each other every day, it’s weird.”

She said last week in particular, because final presentations happen Tuesday, the team has met every night to prepare for its presentation and had probably spent at least 48 hours total together.

“Where we are right now, I feel like all we need are little minor changes, but it’s a lot of little minor changes,” Bock said.

The team wants to present their product in the best way they can, she said.

“We have [all the information] there; we just have to figure out the exact best way to present it so that our thought processes make the most sense for the audience,” Belliveau said.

Along with this semester’s other teams, the technology commercialization team will present its recommendation at the CCEW final presentations on Tuesday night.



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