Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Innovating for Impact with Health Technology Entrepreneurship
Bioengineering’s Jake Meadows receives a Fulbright scholarship to the United Kingdom to continue his entrepreneurial education
The Posture Protect booth at the Carnegie Museum of Art during Thrival Interactive, an evening that explores the intersection of art and technology. Credit: Tyler Bray.

Equipped with a degree in bioengineering, four years of research and development experience, and an award-winning design process, Jacob “Jake” Meadows (BioE ’20) is prepared to embark on a new journey to the United Kingdom, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship.

Initially inspired to help individuals with fine motor control issues, Meadows and his classmate Tyler Bray (BioE ‘20) spent the last two years working on their project to help older individuals and people with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease. 

“In the Art of Making course, Tyler and I learned how to create solutions to complex real-world problems with human-centered design” said Meadows, a recent University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering alumnus. “Since then, we’ve worked with over 100 individuals with Parkinson’s, physical therapists, and physicians to continue developing a wearable device that detects and alerts poor posture.”

The project, Posture Protect, has since received a series of awards and funding, including Best Overall Project at the Swanson School Design Expo and first place at the Innovation Institute’s Startup Blitz. Meadows and Bray also participated in the University’s student accelerator, Blast Furnace, and were part of the first cohort of the University’s new student startup incubator, the Forge.

Continuing this project outside of the classroom also motivated Meadows, Bray, and their mentor Joseph Samosky, assistant professor of bioengineering, to start Classroom to Community, a program that seeks to bridge the gap between academic projects and real-world impact. As Design & Innovation Manager, Meadows helped grow the program to support six student teams comprising more than 30 students in a collaborative community space on the fourth floor of Benedum Hall called “Studio 437.”

Meadows also worked in the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology at Pitt, where he helped build products to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities. On campus, he was involved in student organizations and served as president of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, and as the public relations chair of the Biomedical Engineering Society. 

Meadows will use the Fulbright scholarship to attend University College London (UCL), where he will pursue a one-year master’s degree in entrepreneurship with the goal of starting a health technology company that focuses on healthy aging.

“Studying in London, one of the world's leading centers of entrepreneurship, will empower me with an international

Meadows_gymMeadows at a user outreach session at the Fit4Boxing Gym in Allison Park after one of the RockSteady Parkinson’s Boxing classes.

network of people that are excited to make health technology more accessible, affordable and effective,” said Meadows. “These relationships will enable me to begin a career dedicated to improving the lives of older individuals and people with chronic conditions through international collaboration.”

He plans to connect with the Global Disability Innovation Hub, an organization at UCL whose goal is to challenge how the world thinks about disability through co-design, collaboration and innovation. He will also continue participating in the “maker movement” by joining UCL’s Institute of Making.

“I care a lot about inclusive design, and I am excited to continue promoting it in both engineering and entrepreneurship,” he said.

Meadows’ creativity doesn’t stop at health technology design. In addition to his studies, he hopes to explore different regions of the U.K. and continue to practice another passion -- photography.

“I am excited to explore the culture, architecture and landscapes of the United Kingdom through the lens of my camera alongside fellow photographers I meet in Britain,” he said.

When Meadows returns to the U.S., he plans to continue addressing issues in aging by starting a health technology company that will combine empathetic design and advanced technologies to benefit the public good. He hopes that this experience will give him the global perspective needed to apply different approaches to medical care and help individuals age in a healthy way.

“My studies in the UK will ultimately help me promote the global shift in health technology from expensive and intimidating to affordable and empowering,” he said.

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5/4/2020

Contact: Leah Russell