PITTSBURGH, PA (April 25, 2017) … A team of students from the University of Pittsburgh won $10,000 and second place at Princeton University’s TigerLaunch Finals competition for entrepreneurship. The team founded the company Aeronics, which designs and develops improved methods of storing oxygen in lightweight, low-pressure tanks.One of Aeronics’ innovations, Medipod, is about the size of a soda can and contains a porous lining to increase internal surface area. Because gases concentrate on surfaces, Medipod can store more oxygen while decreasing the tanks internal pressure. The technology is particularly appealing for people who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and currently lug around large oxygen tanks on a daily basis.The Aeronics team comprises Pitt students Alec Kaija, Blake Dube and Mark Spitz. Christopher Wilmer, assistant professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, is an adviser to the team. Aeronics qualified for participation in the TigerLaunch national competition after presenting at the TigerLaunch X NYC competition at New York University. A total of 18 teams, selected from three regional competitions, received invitations to the finals.Last December, Aeronics took first place at Pitt Blast Furnace’s Demo Day. Like TigerLaunch, Demo Day provides student startups the opportunity to pitch their ideas and win cash prizes. The Aeronics team also won several other competitions supported by the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute including the Randall Family Big Idea Competition, the Michael G. Wells Competition and the Kuzneski Innovation Cup.Dube, CEO of Aeronics, worked with Dr. Wilmer in the Wilmer Lab investigating theoretical limits of oxygen storage in porous materials while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Spitz, who serves as COO, is majoring in exercise science in the School of Education. Both students will graduate this May and begin working full-time at Aeronics. Kaija, currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, will continue to develop Aeronics technology while completing his studies.
Image above (from left to right): Spitz, Dube and Kaija at the TigerLaunch Finals.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer, 4/25/2017
Contact: Paul Kovach