VirusTrack Wins Convergence Innovation Competition

<p>Wensi Chen and Zeou Dou are doctoral students focused on environmental engineering.</p>

Wensi Chen and Zeou Dou are doctoral students focused on environmental engineering.

Team VirusTrack was named the winner of the Georgia Tech Convergence Innovation Competition (CIC) for spring 2022. The winning team members are Zeou Dou and Wensi Chen who are doctoral students focused on environmental engineering. They have developed a new and novel viral storage device designed to hold viruses collected specifically from wastewater with the vision of enabling a large-scale monitoring healthcare network. Their unique, small storage vials use a pre-filled, nano-designed substrate to store, filter, and trap viruses allowing for stable, non-refrigerated transportation to public health testing sites.

Eliminating the need to refrigerate or freeze live virus testing samples gathered from multiple field locations offers significant cost-savings, since the requirement to properly chill or freeze test samples are no longer necessary. Also, the container vials better preserve the field-collected sample viruses and extend their storage time which extends the useful time for testing. Just before sample testing, the live viruses are freed from the nano-designed substrate by using a quick burst of ultrasonic energy to break up the substrate.

As the winning team, VirusTrack has earned entry into Georgia Tech’s CREATE-X program where the team will participate in the “CREATE-X LAUNCH” phase of the program. This startup launch phase provides teams with $5,000 in seed funding and $30,000 worth of in-kind services, including legal and accounting services, coaching, space, mentorship, visibility, and IP protection. Startup Launch is a 12-week summer program where students and alumni “intern” to launch their own startup. Teams receive coaching and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and notable Georgia Tech alumni and gain access to Atlanta's rich entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Sponsored twice every year by Georgia Tech’s Institute for People and Technology (IPaT), the Convergence Innovation Competition (CIC) is dedicated to helping students create and showcase innovative and viable products and experiences with the support of campus and industry resources and guidance.

The CIC reflects the values of the competition and focuses on objectives from Georgia Tech’s strategic plan, the Institute for People and Technology’s research pillars, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals. Team VirusTrack’s innovative wastewater testing approach and refrigeration-free sample storage technology supports IPaT’s research pillars to promote health and well-being, in addition to supporting platforms and services for socio-technical systems. Team VirusTrack also supported Georgia Tech’s strategic plan by amplifying health and well-being, and delivering an innovative, new nano-storage technology designed to capture and filter viruses for a global benefit.

The runner-up team was WubFi. WubFi developed an ergonomic wireless stethoscope monitoring device to improve pulmonary diagnoses with a continuous, portable, noise-controlled wearable device that provided real-time automatic diagnosis using the latest ultra-wideband, wireless technology. The WubFi co-founders are Bryan Starbuck and Josh Lee, doctoral students in robotics.

Team BuzzEx won honorable mention for their Uber-like delivery app for packages. Team members include Faris Durrani, Austin McDaniel, Aravind Vengarai Sathyanarayanan, and Min Htat (Reynold) Kyaw, all of whom are computer science majors.

Judging this semester’s competitive CIC projects were John Avery, director of the Advanced Technology Development Center; Burunda Prince, chief operating officer at the Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship; and Rahul Saxena, associate director of the Georgia Tech CREATE-X program. 

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Walter Rich