EL PASO, Texas – The University of Texas at El Paso and Watershed, an idea foundry created by Fountainhead Investment Partners, will conclude a public-private pilot class in the mechanical engineering department with final student presentations on Dec. 8.
In the Orthopedic Medical Device Design course, 24 senior-level mechanical engineering students learned from Watershed engineers, medical doctors and guest lecturers who shared real-world medical device knowledge. Over the 15-week class, students designed and developed their own spinal implant, conducted three design review presentations, completed a design history file, and tested prototypes of their designs. The students’ final projects focus on orthopedic designs that include general biomedical principles with broad applicability.
“This class represents another exciting advance in UTEP’s development as a national research university,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “We are grateful to UTEP alumnus Brian Kieser for initiating this important new relationship with Watershed. In addition to offering our students a unique opportunity to work together with Watershed professionals, and enabling them to apply the knowledge they’ve gained in their academic programs to address real-world challenges, it has reinforced for them the enormous value of the competencies they have acquired in pursuit of their UTEP degrees.”
Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., chair of UTEP’s mechanical engineering department, added, “This course fits perfectly within our curriculum and desire to provide hands-on experiences and prepare our students to be productive immediately in the workplace.”
The class incorporated medical device design with proficiencies of working within healthcare requirements and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance. Additionally, students had the opportunity to utilize traditional manufacturing methods, with a basic introduction to quality control as well as more advanced manufacturing methods such as additive manufacturing and 3-D printing.
“When we opened an exploratory office earlier this year in El Paso, this was exactly the kind of public-private partnership we were hoping to create. Through Watershed and this partnership, we are inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers and giving them the tools to succeed,” said Brian Kieser, managing partner of Fountainhead Investment Partners. “UTEP is my alma mater and because of that I’ve had a first-hand opportunity to see the innovation within the University’s technology programs such as the W.M. Keck Center for 3-D Innovation. Although this is a way to give back to the community I love, it also provides an opportunity for us to recruit and hire the best of talent for our companies.”
Fountainhead Investment Partners and Watershed intend to continue to support UTEP through this program and other course offerings that can benefit from this unique instructional paradigm.
Watershed is an idea foundry created by Fountainhead Investment Partners that is focused on biomedical growth and innovation. Watershed’s purpose is to forge promising ideas into viable intellectual property and products ready for the marketplace, ultimately creating profitable businesses, bringing together industry experts from around the world to guide entrepreneurial ideas.
Watershed works with entrepreneurs exploring their ideas as well as companies that require research and development assistance to move their intellectual property forward. Watershed offers services ranging from proof of concept and product development, to manufacturing demonstration and regulatory consulting, to funding readiness.
Through Fountainhead Investment Partners, the foundry provides an environment where talent and innovation are funded, nurtured, and guided to create a turning point for ideas.
About Fountainhead Investment Partners
Fountainhead Investment Partners is a venture capital firm based in San Antonio, Texas, that invests in early-stage companies. Fountainhead was originally founded as an angel fund in 2014 by a group of successful healthcare entrepreneurs with a vision to connect advancing technologies in order to solve some of medicines’ most complex issues.
In 2015, Fountainhead transitioned to a venture capital firm, with initial funds focused on companies that are accessing innovative technologies from all industries and applying them to the science of medicine with the intention of disrupting the industry while also advancing patient care. Fountainhead makes portfolio investments ranging from $250,000 to $1.5 million. Partners work side-by-side with portfolio companies on operations strategies and management guidance in order to maximize the highest potential growth.