At a time when young people need more encouragement to get inspired toward STEM subjects, four students of the Technology Student Association at High Point Regional High School have shown the entrepreneurial potential of the field.
In 2009, the students invented the Pressure Sore Relief System (PSRS) which is designed to be used by bedridden patients who suffer from the chronic conditions associated with bed sores. From the classroom, the idea soared by winning first place at the 2009 national Technology Student Association (TSA) conference in Denver, Colorado.
Senior TSA member in 2009, Anthony Turo, reflected on the humble beginnings of the PRSR idea, which started out as a classroom assignment to use electronics to solve a real world problem.
Their teacher, Brian Drelick, said:
"TSA student members, Anthony Turo, Kaitlyn Churchman, Brandon Negri and Matthew Garrera formed their own LLC (Limited Liability Company), No Gadget Too Complicated. The company opened bank accounts, and essentially began running a small business.
"They met with hospital CEO's, bed sore patients and nurses. They opened a line of networking, which included state senators, one of whom they eventually hired as their patent attorney.
"This nearly three-year process has been quite difficult given that there is not much guidance available on this front from anywhere. From a teacher's perspective, this process has been terrific in regard to the real life lessons my students learned."
It was Mr. Bob Witkow, a volunteer judge for the 2009 Denver conference, who suggested to the High Point TSA team that they should apply for a patent. Mr. Witkow, owner of Westwood Marketing, LLC, mentored the group and helped them began a grass roots fundraising effort to get things moving.
"Within organizations like TSA is where I see kids doing great things. My view is that activities that go beyond the traditional classroom are tremendous motivators.
"Participating in STEM competitions and activities outside the classroom is what makes the difference between kids who are motivated to create something like a social network and the kids who drop out of school."
Witkow noted that, while he has made billions of dollars for business clients, helping the students do what they have already done is "many times more fulfilling," he said.