Members of the High Point Regional High School (Sussex, NJ) TSA chapter finished in first place last summer at the 2009 national TSA conference in Denver, Colorado in the Electronic Research and Experimentation category. The entry was a Pressure Sore Relief System (PSRS) for use by bedridden patients who suffer from the chronic conditions associated with bed sores.
The volunteer judge for the event, Bob Witkow, a business owner in the Greater Denver area, actually suggested to them that their idea had the merit and depth deserving of a patent. “He was the one who actually planted the seed, and encouraged us to contact him when the whole group returned to school last September. In fact, he actually flew out to visit my class in October to discuss the process of submitting a patent application,” said Brian Drelick, High Point Regional Technology Teacher and TSA advisor.
Senior TSA member, Anthony Turo, said the idea started out as a classroom assignment to use electronics to solve a real world problem. “The PSRS project was completed and the team participated in school and state competitions and eventually qualified to compete at nationals,” Turo said.
After the national TSA conference in Denver, conference judge Bob Witkow, began mentoring the TSA team. With Bob’s guidance from 2000 miles away, the group began a grass roots fundraising effort to get things moving. “The local papers were asked for exposure, and our school newspaper did a big feature story. The team began writing letters requesting meetings with local hospital, political, and community leaders. The students formed their own LLC (Limited Liability Company), No Gadget Too Complicated. The company opened bank accounts, and essentially began running a small business out of my classroom,” Mr. Drelick said. Mr. Drelick explained the extent of their efforts, “…they met with hospital CEO’s, bed sore patients and nurses. Our elected officials opened a line of networking, which included State Senators, one of whom they eventually hired as their patent attorney.” The LLC has raised in excess of $5500, and has made contact with Covidien, a multi-billion dollar medical company in the Boston area for a potential contract for rights of first refusal. They officially filed their formal patent application on March 31, 2010 with the US Trademark Office. “We can expect to receive multiple follow-up calls and inquiries from the US trademark Office. The patent might go through immediately or it could take up four years,” Turo said.
High Point Regional High School students, Anthony Turo, Kaitlyn Churchman, Brandon Negri and Matthew Garrera are involved in running No Gadget Too Complicated. Mr. Drelick said, “they have created promotional brochures, have their own letterhead, and have conducted countless conference calls over the course of the year.” When their schedules permit during the day, they take care of the responsibilities involved in running the company. Kaitlyn explains, “…we go in and out of Mr. Drelick’s classroom and respond to inquiries.” Seniors Kaitlyn and Anthony will be attending their first two years of college locally and plan to stay active with the company.
“I want to go into technical writing instead of just mechanical engineering now that I have participated in so much marketing and promotional writing about the project. Now I like communicating about the more technical aspects,” Kaitlyn Churchman said.
The team has made presentations to New Jersey Senators Steven Oroho and Senator Mike Doherty. “Presenting in front of class is nothing compared to speaking in front of hospital administrators and state senators,” Brandon said.
“This 16-month 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 are learning,” Mr. Drelick said. This experience has really taught me that even high school students can do anything as long as you put your mind to it,” Brandon said.