College Students Put Military Inventions On Sales Shelf

By Eric Beidel
If only everyone were able to buy fake skin and super torches that can slice steel like butter. Thanks to students at Indiana’s Ball State University, items like these may soon hit the commercial market.

The project is called Military 2 Market, and it is aimed at doing just as the name implies. The college has agreements with the military to share patents on technologies developed by the Navy Surface Warfare Center’s Crane Division in southern Indiana. Students then market them to potential commercial clients.

The students are working on six patents, including one for simulated skin. Originally developed for use in ballistic testing, the “sim skin” comes in different thicknesses and hues. The pretend skin is perfect for education and training purposes, said Dawn Savidge, an entrepreneurship major at Ball State.

“We talked to several respected people in the medical field, including one doctor who recalled he had practiced his suturing skills on a towel wrapped around a sponge,” she said.

Students also are marketing a Beam of Life Device, or BOLD, a laser that can burn through steel while generating almost no noise. The lack of sound would allow emergency workers to talk to buried victims while removing rubble. Another student is pitching a lightweight super torch that combines thermite and oxygen to produce extreme heat that can cut any metal in seconds. Slicing a one-inch square of steel with an acetylene torch can take three minutes; the same task would take one second with the new tool, according to documents from Ball State.

Finally, a black box designed by the Navy to allow battlefield units to share digital and analog information on a single network is being given new life as a safety device for school districts. Entrepreneurship student Matt McLochlin said that it works like OnStar, an onboard car safety and vehicle security system. The black box would allow officials to closely monitor their buses and riders, as well as find the most efficient and cost-effective routes, he said.

Topics: Science and Engineering Technology

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