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    [post_content] => “We’re basically sending a Kleenex box into space.”

 

That’s how Russell Trafford described a project that three professors and more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students in the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering have been working on for more than 2 ½ years.

 

Size-wise, that was a pretty good take by Trafford, who with fellow Ph.D. candidate Adam Fifth serves as project manager. The heart of the project is a 4x4x4-inch cube.

 

But content wise, the work that has absorbed teams in and out of Engineering Clinics is a far cry from the little boxes that hold pastel-colored tissues.

 

First from a New Jersey university

 

They have been developing a CubeSat research nanosatellite, weighing less than three pounds, as part of NASA’s seventh round of its CubeSat Launch Initiative. Rowan is the only college or university in New Jersey ever selected for the program.

 

The Rowan CubeSat, called MemSat, will evaluate a newer type of memory technology to determine whether it is better than the most common technology used today, comparing the behavior of memristor memory devices against standard, silicon-based memory technologies to determine potential advantages and/or disadvantages of memristors for space and other applications. Among other things, the team will measure the effects of heat and radiation on the memristor.

 

Memristors are electronic devices in which information is stored in the resistance state of the device and can be retained during power-off modes, allowing for energy-efficient power shutoff as well as system resiliency during power failures.

 

Electrical and computer engineering doctoral student Trafford, 25, from Cape May, said a memristor could enable someone to store the contents of the entire Library of Congress on a flash drive.

 

Astronauts to deploy

 

The Rowan team, led by Drs. Sangho Shin, John Schmalzel and Robert Krchnavek, expects to deliver its auxiliary payload to NASA’s mission integration company, NanoRacks, by the end of February. The firm will in turn deliver it to NASA, which will launch it on an Orbiotal A-T-K Cygnus rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility south of the Maryland-Virginia border, sending it on a resupply mission to the International Space Station tentatively in the early spring.

 

“When the astronauts have a chance, they will deploy the CubeSat,” said Schmalzel, founding chair of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. “That entails a robotic arm dispensing it into space. Hopefully it will still be there for about 12 months before it burns up.”

 

Once in space, MemSat will obtain data as it orbits the Earth, referring that data back to Engineering Hall to an 18-foot antenna on the roof of the building. The antenna will transmit data to a radio/computer setup in Room 309 of Engineering Hall.

 

NASA chose Rowan for the program in 2016, along with 19 other projects from 12 states. These projects comprise work done by universities, non-profit organizations and NASA field centers, including California Polytechnic University; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; and the United States Naval Academy.
Benefitting students and science
“We were given a fascinating opportunity to deploy something we build in house into orbit. Besides contributing to the assessment of emerging technology, our CubeSat project will make it possible for our engineering program to include future nanosatellite spacecraft systems,” said Shin.

 

Rowan electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and chemistry students, some working on hardware, some on software, have focused on the project during Tuesday and Thursday Engineering Clinics and also as part of independent projects.

 

Tanner Smith, 20, of Cherry Hill, is a junior electrical and computer engineering major who sees value in the present work for his future career.

 

“At Rowan, we have the clinic system, which really helps because it gives you practical experience.” Like his classmates, he had from about 150 clinic projects to select, and he looked for one that would be a good fit for his software experience. “I saw an interesting opportunity where I could be a part of a project where I would send a satellite into space,” he said.

 

Brian Dixon, 25, of South Brunswick, who is pursuing a master’s in electrical and computer engineering, is one of about 10 students working on MemSat this semester.

 

He appreciates the chance to conduct hands-on work on the project, which he said would not be an opportunity at every university.

 

“There is a pile of parts over there that’s going to be put together and put in a rocket and thrown out of an airlock,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

 

He’s excited about this project in particular, he said, “One, because space is cool. And two, I’m never going to get into space, but something I’m building is going into space.”

 

For additional information on NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/CubeSat_initiative
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NJ Tech Council

NJTC TechNews

Home /  News /  Tech News  NJ Tech Council

March 2017 Edition

Boxed.com, an online wholesale shopping club, is a startup with a unique and fascinating story. Join us at our 20th annual Venture Conference on April 6th to hear Boxed founder and CEO Chieh Huang tell us how he has overcome the challenges that come with such rapid growth. He will also share his insights on the state of the tech industry and entrepreneurship. Register now and check out some of the hottest startups and ventures in the region at Panasonic HQ in Newark.

Then join us later that month on April 26th for our annual Internet of Things Conference being held at Stevens Institute in Hoboken. We’ve updated the program to focus on three areas: Smart Cities/Transportation, Connected Home and Smart Harbors. Stevens’ globally recognized professor Dr. Alan Blumberg will talk about his extensive research and how sensors are enabling coastal cities to be more resilient.

Then on May 16th Minal Patel, SVP and Chief Strategy Officer at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, will keynote the annual HealthTech Conference at FDU in Madison. He will share how Horizon and the industry are leveraging data to provide better care and efficiencies throughout the ecosystem.

Furthermore, as always, the Tech Council has many more cutting edge events coming up so stay tuned. We look forward to seeing you at one of our exciting events or while co-working at our offices in downtown New Brunswick!

– James C. Barrood, President and CEO, NJ Tech Council

Boxed USA

Spotlight

The New Jersey Tech Council caught up with Huang to nd out more about his startup idea, record growth, and news-making company culture.

You founded Boxed in 2013. Where did the idea came from?

I grew up going to the Price Club with my parents every weekend. I remember we used to borrow a family friend’s card (it was businesses-only back then) and hope that they didn’t look too closely at the picture! Once I moved into the city, I no longer had the luxury of being able to get to a club store. Then, when I had my rst child, I no longer had time. I realized I must not be the only one having this problem and saw an opportunity right away to take the big-box club experience online in a way it had never been done before.

Were there any doubters? How did you convince people it would be big?

I think it was the great Aristotle that once said, “Haters gonna Hate”. People thought my co-founders and I were crazy starting Boxed with zero retail experience, but we were able to take what we learned about mobile consumer behavior from our rst startup to build a product people would love to use. We also focused on a particular niche, stuck with it, and hammered it home. Many investors we pitched didn’t, but customers understood the value proposition quickly -- now it’s just a matter of ensuring more and more people are aware of our brand and what we stand for.

In general though, there will always be doubters. In the world of technology, if everyone thinks something is a great idea, it might actually not be that transformative of an idea. Selling books on the internet sounded dumb to a whole lot of people in the 90’s.

Startups that grow as rapidly as yours, and experience such success, can get tripped up. How did you navigate that potential dangerous terrain?

No one can accomplish this entrepreneurial journey alone. My team and I have made it a priority to speak with other very successful people in the retail, ecommerce and tech spaces to get advice on how to handle all of the difficult situations that arise.

In addition, we have also surrounded ourselves with the best people and given them the resources they need to excel. Our growth as a company is completely due to the fact that we have such a great team. And, for the most part, I lead by staying out of their way!

Your company culture has made headlines. It’s obviously very important to you. Can you talk a bit about your philosophy, and why it’s so important to you?

A company is only as good as the employees who work there. You can have a great product, but if you don’t have a dedicated team willing to put in the long hours it takes to make a startup a success, then you’re destined to fail. What we do for our employees -- paying for their weddings and their children’s college tuition -- is our way of repaying them for all they do for us.

If you boil it all down though, I grew up poor and remember growing up poor. I was taught from that experience how not to treat people.

Founders, executives, employees—no matter where you are in the chain of command, when you love your job and are passionate about what you do, there are things you worry about, things that keep you up at night. What’s that one thing for you?

The thing that keeps me up at night is our customers. Boxed is not what it is today without happy, loyal customers; and I am constantly thinking about whether they are happy with our service and if there are ways we can do more for them.

Boxed isn’t your first startup. You sold your first one to Zynga. What is it about startups that you find exciting? Challenging?

I’m just happy not to be a corporate lawyer anymore! This is a million times better. Seriously, though, I just love taking an idea and turning it into reality.

I still get awestruck every time I walk into one of our four fulllment centers and think about how this whole thing started with a bunch of buddies in my garage.

I know you have reams of advice you can share with our readers, but if you had to pass just one bit along, what would it be?

If you have an idea you’re passionate about, go aer it. We all die one day, and on your last day here, you probably won’t regret that you took a shot in life.



Chieh Huang is the Co-founder and CEO of Boxed, a company that is disrupting the wholesale shopping club experience by enabling customers to shop online or via mobile app for bulk-sized items delivered right to their doors.

When it Comes to Customer Service, Self-Service is Essential - Not Optional

Pluggedin

Self-service. It is no longer a suggestion for businesses if they want to succeed in this digital age. Today, self-service has transformed from a “nice to have” option to a preferred way of doing business as more and more consumers expect digital tools from those they engage with.

Thanks to smart phones and smart technology, entrepreneurs have created new business models that meet new customer expectations: to connect with businesses when it’s most convenient for them. For Comcast, this means making sure customers can reach out when they want, whenever they want and on the platform they prefer to use. One way Comcast addresses this user

which allows customers to control all aspects of their account from their mobile device, desktop or televisions via X1. Customers can easily view and manage their account information, share or change their Wi-Fi password, check on the status of equipment in their home, pay their bill, troubleshoot issues, view and/or cancel upcoming service appointments, schedule time for a representative to call them back and much more.

Customers can also use the latest My Account app feature, TechETA, to see exactly when their technician is “en route” and “arriving” for a scheduled appointment. they can even view a photo of their technician, so they know exactly who to expect at the door.

Nearly 12 million customers are using My Account to control their accounts, restart devices, make payments and schedule a call.

Another way Comcast has incorporated self-service is through its X1 voice remote. Customers can say “troubleshoot” or “help” into the voice remote, which will automatically direct them to troubleshooting solutions to x common issues. Customers can also access help videos – available in English and Spanish – on how to use certain features of their Xfinity products.

As more customers do business through social media, companies must oer customer support through social channels. It also provides businesses an outlet to address customers’ needs and monitor feedback. In 2007, Comcast instituted a dedicated Digital Care team that uses a growing number of platforms like forums, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit to seek out and help customers online, listen to feedback and answer questions. In 2015, Comcast tripled the size of its Digital Care team in order to get back to customers faster. (As a result, response time on social channels has improved by 95%.)

Comcast has also built unique network monitoring tools that can detect when something is not right long before a customer would ever notice a problem. Because the X1 platform is a cloud-based, soware updates are quick and easy. Another example of a self-healing feature involves DVR functionality. If a customer goes to watch a program on their DVR and the recording fails, the DVR will immediately retry the playback. If the retry fails, X1 will automatically begin playback of the program if it is available On Demand.

Customers are responding positively to the value and convenience of selfservice options. Consider the numbers: Fourth quarter 2016 saw a 90% increase in self-service transactions compared to the fourth quarter 2015.

increase in self-service transactions compared to the fourth quarter 2015. Self-service is not intended to eclipse traditional forms of customer care. Comcast is available to customers through phone, live chat or in person. (they’re opening Xfnity Stores in retail locations, including 8 in New Jersey.) the most eective customer service platforms are the ones where all the pieces fit together, and appeal to the customer on their terms.

James Samaha is the Freedom Region Senior Vice President, Comcast.

Patient Responsibility: A Growing Concern for Health Care Providers

Education Highlight

Fueled by a combination of factors, patient responsibility collections, or reimbursement collected directly from patients as opposed to Medicare or insurance companies, are becoming increasingly concerning for health care providers nationwide. These patient collections are increasing in size/value and are comparatively difficult to collect; having both a lower rate of collection success and a longer collection timeline compared to Medicare and standard insurance companies. This combination is resulting in the erosion of bottom lines across the industry. Small physicians/groups and large hospitals/systems alike are impacted by this trend and are actively seeking methods to improve collections performance on this increasingly important piece of their overall collections pie

collections pie. Over the past decade, high deductible health plans (“HDHP”), or those with deductibles above $1,600 for individuals and $2,600 for families, have been rapidly growing in popularity. This trend has been escalated in part by the individual marketplaces born through the Aordable Care Act, where, according to a report by Health Aairs, almost 90% of enrollees are in a plan with a deductible beyond the qualifying threshold for an HDHP. Increased enrollment in these plans leads to increased patient responsibility collections, highlighted by a Kaiser Family Foundation report which indicates the average annual outof-pocket costs per patient rose almost 230% between 2006 and 2015.

Providers and administrators are attacking the problem through approaches on both the front end and the back end of the billing process. On the front end, a push to increase transparency and accountability to the patient along with the utilization of today’s payment methods are keys to improving the collections process. This includes a range of eorts from estimating patient responsibility before services are provided, taking credit card information with an agreement to charge the balance automatically upon completion of services, and patient education around their plans, deductibles, and estimated likely costs.

On the back end of the process (collecting of accounts receivable), sophisticated data analytics are being utilized to increase the efficiency and improve the level of success in collecting outstanding patient balances. Digging into the patient receivables using new and intuitive metrics allows billing and collections teams to focus their eorts and tailor their approach to collecting outstanding balances on an account-by-account basis, a vast improvement over the outdated method of simply sending a past due balance letter to all accounts.

The increase in patient out-of-pocket costs and the difficulty surrounding their collection is yet another hurdle today’s physicians and systems are facing. Those that take action now to improve their processes and technology on both the front and back end of the collections cycle will better position themselves to successfully navigate the issue, and maintain their bottom line.

Tyler Tracewski is a Health Care Services Group Manager at EisnerAmper, assisting clients with strategic and financial planning, development and integration of financial modelling tools, and overall practice management. Contact him at 212-324-2296 or tyler.tracewski@eisneramper.com.