By Matt Windsor 
As published in UAB The Mix,Tomorrow land: Engineering lab explores the future of tech, teaching 

mix bicep curlBy now, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Fitbit, a digital-age pedometer that tracks your steps — and sleep patterns. You may well be wearing one yourself. Corey Shum, Director of UAB’s Enabling Technology Lab, is working with two local entrepreneurs, and the Engineering and Innovative Technology Development (EITD) group, to create a hyperaccurate Fitbit that doesn’t just watch you exercise — it makes sure you’re doing it right. It could also transform the process of rehabilitation after an injury.

Orthopedic surgeon Ken Jaffe, M.D., a 1982 graduate of the UAB School of Medicine and a former UAB faculty member now in private practice, was inspired by the high-tech motion-capture devices in the golf industry. “In the golf world, they have sensors you can put on your club to look at your club head speed and swing path,” Jaffe said. “I had the idea of using this technology for medical rehabilitation.” He also knew where to go for help turning the idea into reality. “I was introduced to some of the talent at UAB when I got my MBA” at the UAB Collat School of Business in 2003, Jaffe said. A former faculty member in the business school, Sanjay Singh, Ph.D., connected Jaffe and his business partner in the startup Management of Motion to Shum and the ETLab.

As a pharmaceutical company focused on finding drugs for rare diseases that can be commercially successful, BioCryst Corporation is a risky business, with a failure rate for commercialization of its drug discoveries of over 90%. On October 20, 2015, BioCryst CEO Jon Stonehouse told students in the combined MBA and undergraduate capstone class “Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” that his company was living this brutal statistic three years ago when it concluded that further work on a drug it had spent years and millions of dollars on was likely futile.

BH BioCrystStonehouse said that he and his board of directors made the difficult decision in late 2012 to downsize the company by over half and then embark on an “experiment” to see if the remaining 30 employees could re-focus and be successful with one company asset, a rare disease drug to combat a debilitating disease that causes extreme swelling, called Hereditary Angioedema (HAE). CEO Stonehouse noted the experiment has thus far been successful, in no small part due to the fact that employees are motivated by the desire to help the 70,000-350,000 people worldwide who suffer from HAE.

By Gail Allyn Short • Photos by Steve Wood
As published in UAB Magazine, Fall 2015

Innovation startmeup 452 optOn the popular television show Shark Tank, budding business owners pitch ideas to investors who could make or break their futures. Anxiety runs high. Tough questions must be answered. Dreams could live or die.

Now imagine doing that in college. UAB students are willingly facing—and winning—a Shark Tank-style challenge with a tantalizing prize: the opportunity to launch their own start-ups before they graduate. The competition is part of UAB’s strengthened emphasis on teaching entrepreneurship—providing students with knowledge, experience, and inspiration to develop and operate a new company or commercialize a novel invention.

One of the best analogies for describing business entrepreneurs is the Explorer-Pioneer-Settler archetype:

  • Explorers are the first ones in a new territory (think the unknown person who first assembled a desktop computer).
  • Pioneers are the ones who clear the land and first try to actually live in the territory (think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and Apple computers).
  • Settlers are the people who move in, plant the crops, and live there long-term (the people in the PC industry today).

BH ServisFirstTom Broughton, Chief Executive Officer of ServisFirst Bank, recently told students in the combined MBA and undergraduate capstone class “Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” that he wants Pioneers in his company who embrace the idea of growth. Broughton made a return visit to the Collat School of Business on October 13, 2015. 

Broughton is himself a two-time Pioneer. At the age of 29, he founded First Commercial Bank. That bank was acquired by Synovus Bank in 1992, and Mr. Broughton remained with that organization in steadily more senior management positions until leaving to create ServisFirst in 2005. In just ten years, ServisFirst expects to have $5 billion in assets by year-end 2015, operating in key metropolitan areas of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina. It is one of the most profitable community banks in the country.  

NSN 350For the past three years, the Collat Career Services Office has been partnering with the National Sales Network to attend their professional/student conferences to expose our business students to top tier companies that want to hire our marketing and Industrial Distribution students.

The National Sales Network (NSN) is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit membership organization whose objective is to meet the professional and developmental needs of sales and sales management professionals and individuals who want to improve their professional sales skills. One of the primary focuses of NSN is diversity.

This year NSN created a student only conference in Atlanta, GA. The NSN Student Sales & Marketing Conference brought together the top diverse undergraduate and graduate student talent from across the U.S. for an opportunity of a lifetime.

The NSN Student Sales & Marketing Conference is the most powerful sales and marketing development program available to diverse students interested in marketing and/or sales. Over 350 students applied to attend the conference, and 100 were accepted. UAB represented 10% of the students attending the conference which was one of the highest percentages from any one university.

BH Apco

Alabama Power Company Chairman, President and CEO Mark Crosswhite made his first visit to a UAB Collat School of Business class when he was the speaker at the combined undergraduate capstone and MBA class, “Strategic Leadership Through the Eyes of the C-Suite,” on October 6, 2015. Crosswhite was named CEO in 2013.

The parent company of Alabama Power, Southern Company, is the leading electric energy company serving the Southeast., with over 4.4 million customers. In addition to Alabama Power, Southern Company also owns Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power. Southern Company operates three nuclear generating plans, and is building the first new nuclear units to be built in a generation of Americans. Alabama Power has 1.5 million customers. It recently announced that it was purchasing AGL Resources, parent of Atlanta Gas Light, which will make it the second largest utility in the country based on customer numbers.

frank2Accounting Professor Frank Messina, UAB’s Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) to the NCAA, has been appointed by the NCAA Board of Directors to its prestigious Division I Committee on Academics.  

The NCAA stated that Dr. Messina’s passion, work ethic and leadership with them led to the decision to appoint him to this committee position. Only seven faculty athletics representatives nationwide were selected for the 20-member committee.

The Division I Committee on Academics supports the NCAA’s academic mission by managing Division I academics matters, including policy, eligibility standards, and the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program.  The Committee on Academics is chaired by a Division I president and consists of university presidents, a provost, faculty athletics representatives, directors of athletics, senior woman administrators, conference administrators and a student-athlete.  

Dr. Messina will also serve on the NCAA data subcommittee, which deals specifically with Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR) as well.  He has served as UAB’s faculty athletics representative for seven years.

BH CollatNancy Collat Goedecke, CEO and Chair of Mayer Electric Company, and Charles Collat, Sr., Chair Emeritus of the company, were the guests on September 29th in the Fall 2015 strategy course, “Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite.” The course is a combined undergraduate honors course and MBA course which is a “capstone” experience for students, designed to bring together a variety of business disciplines in the study of business strategy.

Ms. Goedecke described for students the evolution of Mayer Electric as a family-owned business, from its founding by her grandfather, Ben S. Weil in 1930, to the introduction of the “Generation 4” to the business today. It was Charles Collat, Sr., Ms. Goedecke’s father and a member of “Generation 2,” who recognized over 30 years ago that for a family business to survive it must actively seek outside advisors, and impose certain rules for how the family members will be part of the business. For example, Ms. Goedecke noted that in order for family members to join Mayer Electric as employees, they must first have obtained a four-year college degree and must have worked successfully for at least two years outside of the family business.

Innovative HCSimulation can be a vehicle for testing potentially revolutionary new ideas, points out Rubin Pillay, M.D., Ph.D., assistant dean for Global Health in the UAB School of Medicine and professor of healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship at the UAB Collat School of Business. “Medicine is an evidence-based profession,” he noted. “I can’t go into the ER and start tweaking things just to see what happens. But the way health care is going, you have to be innovative just to survive. And innovation, by its very nature, is all about doing something that’s never been done before.”

That’s why Pillay is developing a “design and simulation lab” as part of the proposed UAB Center for Healthcare Innovation, “a place where anybody can feel free to come in and try out new ideas,” he explained. The approach has been pioneered by the Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente, Pillay says. A nurse could use computer simulations to model a new approach to scheduling surgeries in UAB’s operating rooms, for example. Engineers and entrepreneurs could come together to test smartphone-based monitoring systems for patients. Entire medical teams could practice a new workflow in a replica patient room, without interrupting standard care.

“Not everything will work,” Pillay said. “But it’s just like the tech industry — the idea is to fail fast, cheap and forward. That’s how you learn.”

Read more- Ever Ready: Simulation accelerates learning, innovation across UAB's health enterprise