Lawrence Technological University (LTU) is establishing Michigan’s first Wearable Technology Innovation Center (WTIC).
WTIC will encompass a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, innovation center, and regional economic development engine. It will coalesce innovative companies, entrepreneurs, start-ups, manufacturing firms, industry leaders, university researchers, and workforce development stakeholders to foster the development and production of wearable technology solutions.
The following Working Groups have been established with over 30 Industry and Community Partners and over 18 LTU Faculty & Staff as part of a two-year planning and development phase to fully launch the Center.
The purpose of the Wearables Technology Innovation Center (WTIC) Leadership Team and its activities is to guide the teams through WTIC planning activities garnering and leveraging additional expertise and support for the development of WTIC. These leaders will be responsible for creating a monthly meeting schedule and planning site visits (local and non-local), coordinating focus group meetings, working with consultants to help develop determined market assessment, questionnaires and surveys; and performing other work as determined by each of the teams.
The Leadership Team will also help craft and initiate a plan that identifies additional resources, partners, and collaborators that can provide guidance and support for the implementation of the WTIC and its larger ecosystem including:
- Product development, manufacturing, and commercialization strategy
- Workforce development
- Entrepreneurship and innovation
- Organizational structure
- Incorporation of DEIA throughout to facilitate and create solutions for the social and industry related issues (Elder Care, Youth Recreation, Worker Safety and Improved Productivity)
The WTIC Leadership Team is composed of the Co-PI Eric Meyer PhD, LTU; Co-PI Mark Brucki, LTU; Caryn Reed-Hendon PhD, LTU; Dr. Nicole Kennedy, ArborHive; Jennifer Guarino, ISAIC; Melody DeBolt, Great Lakes Safety Training Center; Yuliya Gaydayenko, Jewish Family Services; and Colleen Hau, Newlab.
Co-PI, Director of WTIC and Youth Recreation Leader
|Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering. Meyer is Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at LTU. He advances biomechanics knowledge through translational research and wearable technology design.|
LTU Co-PI and Organizational Development Leader
|M.B.A. Brucki is the Associate Vice President for Economic Development at LTU and leads the University’s Strategic Growth Initiatives. He launched the Centrepolis Accelerator, North America’s first Industry 4.0 and Michigan’s first smart hardware product accelerator.|
LTU DEIA Leader
|Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. Reed-Hendon was Assistant Director for Orientation Programs at UofM Dearborn and Director of Diversity & Inclusion at the OU William Beaumont School of Medicine. She is now the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at LTU.|
|Dr. Nicole Kennedy|
WTIC Entrepreneurship Leader
|M.S., M.S.E., and M.D. Dr. Kennedy was an electrical and biomedical engineer before completing training as a general surgeon and then a vascular surgery fellowship. She is CEO of ArborHive which bridges gaps between innovation and commercialization in the medical field.|
WTIC Industry Leader
|B.F.A. in Fashion Illustration. Guarino led the creation of the Detroit-based manufacturer Shinola's leather manufacturing unit. President & CEO of ISAIC, a key textile-manufacturing partner and a leading voice for the advancement of domestic manufacturing.|
WTIC Safety Leader
|B.B.A. Debolt is Director of Operations at Great Lakes Safety Training Center which conducts safety training in areas such as Hazwoper, Confined Space, Fall Protection, Scaffolds, Fork Lifts and Aerial Lifts.|
WTIC Elder Care Leader
|L.M.S.W., M.A. in Linguistics. Gaydayenko is Chief Program Officer for Older Adult Services and is an expert in aging service providers. She was a Fellow at the National Practice Change Leaders program and a participant in the National Council on Aging Learning Collaborative.|
WTIC Productivity Leader
|B.A., M.A. in Sociology. Hau was previously the Director of Global Product Innovation at Carhartt. She is currently the Vice President of Applied Innovation at Newlab and has experience with product market fit and commercialization of the internet of things (IOT) in apparel. Colleen’s specialty areas include consumer insights, design thinking, and co-creation to drive innovation.|
The purpose of the Organizational Development Team and its activities will focus on creating the organizational structure; a long-term sustainability plan that incorporates a multi-tiered revenue streams consisting of venture capital investments, foundation and corporate grants and sponsorships, earned income through revenue sharing partnerships, state/local and federal government support and internal LTU annual budget allocations; and to develop an organization operation plan and processes.
The Organizational Development Team has the main priority of organizing and incorporating all of the teams’ inputs into a comprehensive and cohesive organizational structure, and creating a sustainability implementation plan.
The Organizational Development Team Leader is Co-PI Mark Brucki, Associate Vice President for Economic Development at LTU and the initial team members includes: Laurie Arora, Vice President of Public Affairs, Philanthropy and Organizational Development at PACE Southeast Michigan; D’Wayne Edwards HD, President of Pensole Lewis College of Business; John Elliot, Principal AMI Holding Corp. and Jacob Ward, Founding Member of Ward Law.
Additional team members will be brought aboard as determined by the team and an expert consultant in organizational development will help to guide the planning process as relates to the engine’s structure, operations, strategic planning and sustainability plan.
Team Activities Include:
- Benchmarking will include regional engines and centers based on textiles, biomedical engineering, and flexible manufacturing to procure a best practice look at organizational development.
- Surveys will be created and distributed to regional engines/centers nationally and locally based to garner further information to inform the team and to help plan for a Type 2 proposal.
- Site Visits will include partner organizations and other centers located across the state and several out-of-state as determined by the team to learn organizational best practices and structure models
- Focus Group Meetings will be conducted with diverse groups of engine and/or center’s staff to further garner first-hand information and data. Meetings will also include foundations, corporate giving programs, venture capital investors and individuals interested in supporting economic development, innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization.
- Literature Reviews will include all topics related to the operations, organization, strategic planning and sustainability of centers and regional engines.
The purpose of the Worker Safety Team and its activities will focus on identifying gaps, needs, and opportunities where wearable technology can be of use to help to improve worker safety, and mitigate accidents, injuries and deaths in such workplaces as construction sites, factories, and warehouses.
The Worker Safety Team will also help craft and initiate a plan that identifies additional resources, partners, and collaborators that can provide guidance and support for the implementation of a wearable technology concept creation, product development, manufacturing, and commercialization with the focus on workers safety.
The Worker Safety Team Leader is Melody DeBolt, Director of Operations at Great Lakes Safety Research Center and initial team members includes: Ahmed Al-Bayati PhD, Director of the Construction Safety Research Center at LTU; Franco Delogu PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology at LTU; Lauren Helbig-O’Reilly, Sr. Manager of R&D Advanced Development at Carhartt; and Tracey McLenon, Vice President of Operations at the Construction Association of Michigan.
Team Activities Include:
- Benchmarking of the top wearable businesses focused on worker safety.
- Site Visits to several local, regional and state-wide occupational health and safety training facilities.
- Focus Group Meetings that will include workers in industries vulnerable to accidents (construction, manufacturing and warehousing) uncovering worker concerns and exploring solutions to dangers they face on the job.
- Feasibility Reviews will be conducted to review accident records and provide an assessment of the impact wearable technologies could have on their outcome.
- Literature Reviews will identify the current trends in wearable technology related to worker safety.
- A study will be conducted through a combined effort between the Worker Safety Team Leader and the DEIA Team Leader focusing on uncovering safety challenges specific to underserved populations.
The purpose of the Elder Care Team and its activities will focus on identifying gaps, needs and opportunities where wearable technology can be of use to help improve elder care support and safety. The population of people over age 65 is growing rapidly in the U.S. Many caregivers, such as friends and family who are already stressed, are not always able to provide consistent care. Long-term care of the elderly has created burdens on caregivers and financial and social burden on individuals. Wearable Technology allows real-time monitoring and assistance, early intervention, and expedited medical care. Collecting activity data with varieties of sensors to recognize simple and complex activities such as walking, sitting, running and other activities of daily living are very important to provide real time feedback for medical rehabilitations and to caregivers.
The Elder Care Team will also help craft and initiate a plan that identifies additional resources, partners, and collaborators that can provide guidance and support for the implementation of a wearable technology product development, manufacturing, and commercialization that focuses on enhanced elder care support.
The Elder Care Team Leader is Yuliya Gaydayenko, Chief Program Officer of Behavioral Health and Older Adults Services at the Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit. The initial team members include: Oreihi Edisemi Anyaiwe PhD, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at LTU; Roxana Jafariroozabadi PhD, Assistant Professor of Architecture at LTU; Arnold Kravitz, Chief Innovation Officer at Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM); Donna Fry, Dean of the College Health Science at UofM Flint and Kari Sederburg, Director for Healthy Aging for the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. Additional collaboration should also include Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology Department.
Team Activities Include:
- Benchmarking of the top wearable elder care start-ups and companies.
- Surveys will be created and distributed to eldercare facilities and their staff to understand where there are needs that could possibly be mitigated with some form of wearable device.
- Site Visits to local start-up/companies and to a national leader in elder care.
- Focus Group Meetings will include three primary key stakeholders (At Home Care providers, Housing & Assisted Living Care providers, and Hospital/Clinic Care/Hospice Care providers).
- Literature Reviews of current trends in wearable technology as related to elder care, gerontology and geriatric care will be conducted.
- The Elder Care Team Leader and DEIA Team Leader will work together with respective team members to explore discrepancies as related to eldercare from BIPOC and accessibility issues.
The purpose of the Youth Recreation Team and its activities will focus on identifying gaps, needs and opportunities where wearable technology can be of use to help improve youth safety and help to prevent sports and recreational injuries. Participation in sports, recreation and exercise is increasingly popular and widespread in American culture. Wearable technology devices provide ways for youth, coaches and parents/guardians to use information in real time to prevent injuries and/or mitigate further injuries.
The Youth Recreation Team will also help craft and initiate a plan that identifies additional resources, partners, and collaborators that can provide guidance and support for the implementation of a wearable technology product development, manufacturing, and commercialization with a focus on enhancing youth safety.
The Youth Recreation Team Leader is PI Eric Meyer PhD, Director of the Experimental Biomechanics Laboratory at LTU and the initial team members includes: Casey Alford, Managing Partner at Tree Town Tech: Austin Bennett, Director of Championships at the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics; Dan Radomski, Executive Director of the LTU Centrepolis Accelerator, Antonio Robles, Licensed Athletic Trainer and the Founder and Director of Functional Athletic Sequence Training (F.A.S.T.); and Hamid Vejdani PhD, Director of the Bio-Inspired Robotics and Dynamics (BIRD) Laboratory at LTU. Collaboration conversations in process include Detroit PAL, Michigan High School Athletic Association among others.
Team Activities Include:
- Benchmarking of the top wearable startups focused on youth recreation and athletics.
- Site Visits to Detroit's four major sports teams’ training departments, to athletic departments of six regional universities, and to several youth sports training facilities/ rehabilitation centers.
- Market Assessment on current market and commercialization opportunities.
- Focus Group Meetings will include youth and coaches. Separate meetings will include middle school students, high school students, parents, youth coaches, college athletes and college coaches.
- Literature Reviews will focus on common sports injuries and how wearables can mitigate them.
- DEIA Key stakeholders will be engaged to understand challenges of youth in underserved communities.
The purpose of the Improved Productivity Team and its activities will focus on identifying gaps, needs and opportunities where wearable technology can be of use to help improve human productivity. Wearable technology devices and now advance humans’ productivity in a wide variety of areas. Devices can now reduce visual impairments, decrease distracted driving, improve navigation, assist with dieting, and minimize sleep disorders.
The Improved Productivity Team will also help craft and initiate a plan that identifies additional resources, partners, and collaborators that can provide guidance and support for the implementation of a wearable technology product development, manufacturing, and commercialization with a focus on solutions for enhanced and improved human productivity.
The Improved Productivity Team Leader is Colleen Hau, Vice President of Product Realization at Newlab and initial team members include: Steve Gamach, Vice President of Engineering Velocity at Lear Corp.; Gene Parunak, Managing Director at in2being; Lisa Prasad, Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Henry Ford Health Innovation Center; Dan Shargel PhD, Associate Professor of Philosophy at LTU; Bilge Nur Saltik, Director of Industrial Design at LTU and Art Wall, Director of Fab Operations at NextFlex.
Team Activities Include:
- Benchmarking of the top wearable startups in these areas (aid with sleep, enforce good habits, reduce distracted driving, among others.
- Site Visits will include Henry Ford Health Institute, Ascension Michigan’s Weight Loss Program, the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, the Unisource Sleep Center, and clothes.
- Focus Group Meetings will be conducted with clients of these organizations above and others relevant.
- Literature Reviews will include wearables that could reduce distractions in individuals during critical periods such as walking, biking and driving and compile statistics on accidents caused by distractions.
- The Human Productivity Team Leader and DEIA Team Leader will work together with respective team members to explore discrepancies as related to accessibility issues (services, providers, health issues).
The purpose of the Entrepreneurship/Innovation Team and its activities will focus on identifying gaps, needs and opportunities where wearable technology entrepreneurship and innovation can be integrated in social and industry-related issues across all teams (Elder Care, Youth Recreation, Worker Safety and Improved Productivity). Real-world evaluations of wearable technology throughout different phases of the innovation process will be conducted and activities will be implemented to determine the approach that WTIC will eventually use to translate the innovations identified from the aforementioned use-inspired research into practice.
Team activities will ensure that the approach eventually used is rooted in a deep understanding of the area resources available, cutting-edge national best practices, and opportunities to collaborate both within and beyond SEM. These activities will also ensure that the Engine is knowledgeable of the needs of its future key stakeholders encompassing a diverse, inclusive, and equitably treated population of entrepreneurs, startup founders, businesses leaders, investors, K-12 students, entrepreneurial support organizations, corporate innovation department leaders, and all those connected with LTU including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and corporate partners.
The Entrepreneurship/Innovation Team is Dr. Nichole Kennedy, Chief Executive Office of ArborHive and the initial team members include Ty Faulkner, Director of the Pathways/Grand Challenges Program at LTU; Stacey Frankovich, Program Officer at MedHealth; Heidi Morano PhD, Director of Entrepreneurial Engineering Design Curriculum at LTU; Chris Pearson, Dean, College of Innovation & Technology at UofM Flint; Jerry Roston, Director of Engineering at LTU; and Ross Sanders, Director of Industry Partnerships and Entrepreneurship at LTU.
Team Activities Include:
- Benchmarking will inform the future engine’s approach to translating innovations to practice and will include 50 of the area’s leading entrepreneurship support organizations.
- Surveys will be conducted to understand the needs of researchers, startups and existing businesses seeking to commercialize wearable technologies.
- Site Visits will focus on understanding the entrepreneurial ecosystems, identify best practices, and provide collaboration possibilities. Site visits include thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems across the state and site visits to understand the entrepreneurial programming housed in Michigan’s institutions of higher education.
- Focus Group Meetings of key stakeholders mentioned above and those TBD will be conducted as well as focus groups with underserved minority stakeholders to understand their unique challenges.
- Literature Reviews will identify best practices surrounding the support of entrepreneurs including coaching on customer discovery, negotiating for founder friendly investments; or methods for rapid proto-typing.
The purpose of the Industry/Workforce Development Team and its activities will focus on identifying gaps, needs and opportunities where industry and workforce development can support the wearable technology ecosystem development in Southeast Michigan (SEM). WTIC will create innovation sector jobs both short-term and long-term through providing necessary training resources and opportunities for small businesses, entrepreneurs, clinicians and those involved in wearable technology innovation. Great capacity exists in SEM to educate a capable workforce in the topic area.
The Industry/Workforce Development Team will also help craft and initiate a plan that identifies additional resources, partners, and collaborators that can provide guidance and support for the implementation of a Wearable Technology workforce. Specifically, this team will focus on workforce development including building opportunities for current, transitioning, and new workers through the offering of badges, certifications, credentials and micro-credentials, apprenticeships, degree programs and others that span across the career pathway spectrum.
The Industry/Workforce Development Team Leader is Jennifer Guarino, President and Chief Executive Office of Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC) and initial team members include: Nadia Absunasser, Federal Opportunities Director at Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC); Peter Davis, Co-Director of Transportation Design at LTU; Genevieve Dion, Director of Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Center and the Center for Functional Fabrics at Drexel University; Richard Feistman PhD, Director of Education/Workforce Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA); James Mynderse PhD, Director of Mechatronics Systems Laboratory at LTU and John Sammut, Chief Executive Officer of LACROIX Electronics.
Team Activities Include:
- Surveys will be distributed to regional workforce development experts and providers including community colleges, universities, public schools and school districts, private schools, career and technical centers, industry associations, relevant industries and others. This data collecting tool will help guide workforce development, worker skills needs/gaps, partnership opportunities, and resources.
- Site Visits are proposed to several partner organizations and others to garner additional information about workforce development best practices and opportunities.
- Focus Group Meetings are proposed for four segments–textile manufacturers, workforce development organizations, flexible manufacturing system implementers/companies and biomedical engineering companies, start-ups and experts.
- Literature Reviews will explore the workforce development trends across industries including textile/fabric manufacturing, biomedical engineering and flexible manufacturing.
- Through the Workforce Development Team and the DEIA Team, studies of underserved populations within textile, biomedical engineering and flexible manufacturing industries will occur.
The purpose of the DEIA Team and its activities will focus on identifying DEIA gaps, needs and opportunities within WTIC and its development. The DEIA Team will work together and work across the teams to ensure that DEIA is addressed on all levels including technology, manufacturing, use-inspired research, innovation to translation, workforce development, organizational structure and other areas. Specific roles and activities of the team are included below.
The DEIA Team will work to incorporate additional members to provide guidance, leverage resources and fill any gaps as determined by the other teams.
Leader is Caryn Reed-Hendon PhD, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for LTU and the initial team members include: Julie Becker PhD, Director of Textiles Research and Training Institute at Eastern Michigan University; Sibrina Collins PhD, Director of the LTU Marburger STEM Center; Wanda Cook-Robinson PhD, Superintendent of Oakland Schools and Paul Jaussen, Chair of Humanities, Social Science and Communication Department at LTU.
Team Activities Include:
- Benchmarking will include regional/national wearables, textile, biomedical engineering and flexible manufacturing centers to understand DEIA within their operations, training, and organizational culture.
- Surveys will be created and distributed to regional and national engines/centers as it relates to DEIA and focus on how DEIA is approached, who manages DEIA, how it is structured within the center and what types of programs and initiatives have been and/or are being established supporting DEIA.
- Site Visits will include a number of Michigan’s nonprofit and advocacy organizations and associations specializing in DEIA.
- Focus Group Meetings will include advocacy and support organizations for each of the following: DEI, LGBTQAI+, and Disability. These focus group meetings will inform WTIC’s policies and procedures.
- Literature Reviews will be conducted associated with DEIA as relates to the development and operations of centers focused on wearable technology manufacturing, and biomedical engineering.