IM this article to a friend!

December 10, 2002

Y tops at turning research into inventions

From: The BYU Newsnet, UT - 10 Dec 2002

By Jennifer Yates NewsNet Staff Writer

While Salt Lake City prepared for the 2002 Winter Olympics, a group of engineers prepared for possible terrorist attacks using technology created by BYU engineers.

The technology, a Watershed Modeling System, routes the path of floodwater throughout a canyon. It is one of many top-selling, BYU-developed inventions that have been sold on a national level.

Recently, Brigham Young University was ranked number one in the nation at turning research dollars into inventions and new companies.

Other inventions include a drug that treats leukemia and a digital hearing aid.

The July 19 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education, after a study that covered the last five years, gave BYU the ranking.

The Chronicle also ranked BYU third among American universities at earning income from inventions relative to research spending.

A key to BYU's success is the school focuses on projects with commercial promise, said Lynn Astle, director of the technology transfer office.

"BYU professors and students are working on solutions to world problems and have proven quite successful, even without much of the resources available at large research institutions," Astle said in a recent BYU magazine article.

According to the Chronicle, investments into small start-up companies are another reason for BYU's success.

"Of the university's three most lucrative inventions, two-technology behind a new kind of hearing aid and software for modeling of water systems-were commercialized through spin-offs," the Chronicle reported.

In September of 1998, BYU Dean of the College of Engineering Doug Chambries and his colleague, Richard Christiansen, released new hearing aid technology with Salt Lake City-based Sonic Innovations. The company has since sold more than 20,000 hearing aids and is the fastest growing company of its kind.

"The number one reason for the company's success is that the technology is phenomenal," said Andy Raguskus, president and CEO of Sonic Innovations. "It allows us to overcome hearing problems by accurately reproducing actual sounds."

The invention is composed of two original patented ideas: a digital processing hearing aid and a digital processing method that suppresses background noise, Astle said.

One innovative project still in the works is at BYU is a compound that would be 12 times stronger than steel.

Called IsoTRUSS, the new technology has commercial backing, and BYU has high expectations for the product, Astle said.

The technology transfer office is also looking for a company to license a carbonated yogurt.

"It enhances the flavor of the yogurt," Astle said. "It doesn't bubble or fizz. It tingles on your tongue when you eat it."

Copyright © 2002 BYU NewsNet