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Setting The Pace

Award-winning Engineers Submit Game-changing Generator

From left to right: Elizabeth Monaghan, Kyle Mamitag, Henry Bausta, Ana Gonzalez, Dr. Matthew Zelisko, Leslyan Reza, Riley Keck, Fernando Baltazar (in back), Farrah Molina, Belen Evans 

Putting the desire to do good at the forefront, nine students from the UST Engineering Department have a significant achievement under their belts. In December, a team led by Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. Matthew Zelisko won the top prize at the NASA MUREP Innovation and Technology Transfer Idea Competition (MITTIC) held at Johnson Space Center

The project consisted of a game-changing piezoelectric generator designed to be used in pacemakers as an alternative to traditional batteries. Zelisko was delighted to guide the process that transformed an idea into an invention. The students were awarded $15,000 in prize money by NASA for start-up funding, exclusive internship opportunities, a trip to NASA’s Ames facility for a behind-the-scenes tour, and the opportunity to present to entrepreneurs. 

“Supporting the students in the competition was an amazing experience,” Zelisko said. “I watched the students as they went from researching NASA intellectual properties to creating an innovative idea to presenting that idea before a panel of experts. What I witnessed highlighted the dedication and determination our UST students possess.”  

Individuals using this new technological advantage would never need invasive surgery due to an exhausted battery requiring replacement.

UST engineering student and team member Farrah Molina can already feel the impact of this academic victory.  

Molina said, “The competition brought us an abundance of opportunities, including networking with people from various departments within the NASA Johnson Space Center and providing exclusive internships for MITTIC alumni. Touring the facilities inspired us to keep developing our technology beyond the scope of the competition.” 

In addition, the results are tangible. The group traveled to California, and the students presented their project to entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley hoping to generate investment for a startup.   

About the Author — Claudia Deschamps

Claudia DeschampsClaudia Deschamps is a seasoned media specialist and public relations strategist, who began her professional career as a journalist for Spanish-language radio and television networks in Houston. She recently served as a contract senior media specialist at UST.

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