October 28, 2011

Dan Hayes, professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at LSU, has more in mind for his students than studying textbooks and conducting research in the academic laboratory. Hayes wants to build an entrepreneurial culture at LSU, through the development of a 12-credit certificate program that teaches the fundamental techniques of business processes and workings of a business plan so engineering students can translate their research ideas to the work place.

The 12-credit program will help engineering students understand research and design projects from an industry perspective. Through six different BAE courses in entrepreneurship, psychology, business and industry engineering, students will learn the importance of designing with customer needs in mind.

“Sometimes, as academic researchers, we get very myopic about our research, focusing solely on what is feasible and publishable from an academic standpoint,” Hayes said. But, he pointed out, what is feasible and publishable from an academic perspective does not necessarily have real-world, industrial or clinical applications.

In his own lab, Hayes is interested in designing cost effective manufacturing processes to make nanomaterials at both the small academic laboratory scale and the larger industrial scale. Currently, Hayes is working in collaboration with LSU Vet MED on new antimicrobial nanomaterials that combat deep tissue antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections that commonly accompany orthopedic implants.

Hayes hopes to help LSU engineering students design their materials, devices and processes not only with academic goals but also with bigger-picture in mind – real-world applications. He hopes to help engineering students learn how to develop their ideas from the lab bench to product invention, and then how to take those products to industry and businesses.

“In academia, we often neglect to define a ‘good product’ as one with industrial scale feasibility and marketable characteristics,” Hayes said. The ‘best’ product from a purely engineering or science standpoint is not necessarily the one that will sell. “Otherwise, pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t need to promote their products with commercials,” he laughed.

Students certified under the 12-credit program will understand the market forces that drive design – seeing their research through an industry lens and business-based criteria for success.

Ammar Qureshi is a Ph.D. student in BAE who works under the guidance of Dr. Hayes. Qureshi’s research includes designing nanomaterials that drive stems cells to create bone tissue in a manner controllable by surgeons. He describes his lab group’s mission as solving real-world medical problems while keeping a close eye on the safety standards that drive the industry, such as the FDA.

“Every project's aim is to resolve the issue in hand by manufacturing highly efficient and effective products that also enable companies to achieve their financial goals,” Qureshi said. “Dr. Hayes thoroughly comprehends the transition of lab-made products to industry, and it gives us a unique edge on accomplishing our perceived ideas without burning up time on non-industry-applicable thoughts.”


Article written by Paige Brown, communications graduate student worker. For more information, contact Cassie Arceneaux, College of Engineering, carcen6@lsu.edu or (225) 578-0092.

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