Indiana Roundup: IU Patents, eText, Conexus Interns

Here’s a look at innovation news from around Indiana:

Conexus Indiana, the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative, said in a press release that its internship program experienced major growth last year. Now in its second year, the Conexus Interns Program reached 230 Indiana high school students interning at 79 Indiana companies, a 170 percent increase over 2015.

The program, designed in conjunction with industry partners, matches students with paid internships at nearby advanced manufacturing or logistics companies. During the six-week summer internships, students get hands-on experience that often includes the chance to work closely with company employees to better understand the opportunities available in the state’s largest industry.

Eighty percent of the students in the program this year said their internship changed their perception of advanced manufacturing and logistics, and that they were more likely to pursue a career in that field. Sixty-two percent of the interns said the experience had an impact on their post-high school plans, and 95 percent found the experience valuable.

The Conexus Interns Program is funded by Lilly Endowment, Skill UP, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), and Chase. Students and employers interested in the 2017 program can find more information here.

—As the price of traditional college textbooks continues to rise, Indiana University’s eText initiative surpassed $10 million in total revenue during the last academic year. According to the university, more than 40,000 students used eTexts last year; so far this fall, more than 27,000 IU students have spent $3 million on digital education materials.

When faculty members choose to use eTexts for their classes, students automatically get course materials and content delivered to their digital devices at a substantial discount, and often weeks before their first class. Students can then highlight, add notes, and collaborate with their classmates and instructors through software integrated with IU’s system. Students can also use the same software no matter which publisher produced the eText. They can print their eTexts on any printer and access their materials for the duration of their enrollment at IU.

IU eTexts are powered by the Unizin Engage digital content platform and the Canvas learning management system and are accessible on any device. Stacy Morrone, IU’s associate vice president for learning technologies, said in a press release that there are multiple benefits to using eTexts, in addition to financial savings.

“Instructors are able to tap into real-time analytics to develop new teaching methods, and they can now share notes with students and make multimedia materials, such as video clips, part of the curriculum,” Morrone said.

—During the previous fiscal year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a record 53 patents to the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. (IURTC), the university’s office of technology transfer. The IURTC, which protects, markets, and licenses intellectual property developed at the university so it can be commercialized by industry, said in a press release that the 53 patents in 2015-16 represent a 29 percent increase over the previous year’s 41. (In 2011, the IURTC was issued just 13.)

“The work conducted by IU researchers and IURTC managers has increased the number of invention discoveries and patent applications,” Marie Kerbeshian, vice president of technology commercialization, said in a press release.

—From our Department of Creepy-Crawlies: The Daily Mail reports that a flatworm discovered by an Indiana researcher has been named after Barack Obama. Thomas Platt, a newly retired biology professor at Notre Dame’s St. Mary’s College, discovered the parasite that lives in the blood of turtles and therefore earned the right to name it. He said it was his small way of honoring the 44th president of the United States. When asked why he chose the name Baracktrema obamai, Platt said, “Because it’s long, thin and cool as hell.”

Platt discovered and named more than 30 species over the course of his career.

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