Baker Institute event showcases student inventions, projects, businesses

Lehigh students, staff, and an alum showcased their inventions, projects, and businesses Tuesday, Oct. 22, at CREATIVATE, an annual event sponsored by the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation and held this year in the Lehigh University Art Galleries Main Gallery in Zoellner Arts Center. 

Innovative students engaged with about 200 attendees, answering questions, explaining their ideas, and displaying interactive prototypes to test. 

In all, 22 groups, primarily made up of students, presented their entrepreneurial endeavors, showcasing the creative drive of many members of the Lehigh community. 

Accessible Tests for Sickle Cell Anemia

The Global Social Impact Fellowship, a Mountaintop program, strives to create long-term differences in low-income countries. Ashleigh Crawford ’20, a bioengineering major, is a part of the technical entrepreneurship side of one project that aims to create a sickle cell anemia test strip.

“It's very similar to a pregnancy tester, but it's actually going to take a whole blood sample and detect sickle cell disease, sickle cell trait or normal healthy life,” said Crawford. “And our goal is to implement the device in low- and middle-income countries. For example, Sierra Leone is our target point to start off with.”

Olivia O’Donnell ’20, a bioengineering major who also works on the technical entrepreneurship side of the project, said the project is moving along quickly for having only begun a year ago. Despite their triumphs, however, Crawford explained that they still have a long way to go.

“At this point we still have a very basic prototype, not fully functional yet, but close,” Crawford said. “I think we could get a fully functioning prototype by the end of this academic year. But in terms of the whole venture, moving on I think it'll be at least three to five years before it's in actual production and implemented in the country specifically.”

A Social Media Network for Mealtimes

In the social media age, planning meals with friends can be a surprisingly difficult endeavor. Preff, an app created by a team of four Lehigh students, seeks to mitigate that and simplify the way in which people plan going out to eat. 

Users can easily choose a group, location, and time on the app, post their invitation and receive responses from friends, the Preff team said. Will Peracchio ’21 explained that the goal is to create a community on Preff, which will then incentivize restaurants to sign up and be a part of the service. 

“We can essentially sell that to restaurants to basically provide [the opportunity for them to] tailor a better experience for groups that are coming in,” said Peracchio, who studies computer science and business. “So it's kind of a win-win, because you get to see your friends, and the restaurants essentially get more customers. So it’s been a really great thing.”

Preff is currently beta testing on the app TestFlight, but Peracchio said that it will reach the App Store tentatively by the start of the spring 2020 semester.

The app’s logo, a penguin, has symbolic meaning for the project.

“[Penguins] are really social, picky eaters,” Peracchio said. “[Preff] was just something potentially that they could use to be able to help themselves out.”

Story by Tabitha Nowak '23

Read the full story in the Lehigh University News Center

Students wearing VR headsets

Students try out "Gameful Education with Immersive Virtual Reality & Video Games" created by Jennifer Nester and Jel Kewcharoen.

Pref team presenting

The Preff team presents its app at the event.

Photos by Christa Neu.