UH’s Spirit of Ingenuity on Display During Tech Innovation Showcase

by Ed Bailey | Communications Manager, UH Energy

The City of Houston has an illustrious history of solving some of the world’s greatest challenges. Whether it’s spaceflight, medical breakthroughs or anything in between, Houston has always positioned itself as a hub of solutions.

That spirit of ingenuity was front and center at the University of Houston Student Center South Ballroom where nearly 30 of the university’s brightest faculty and student researchers presented their work during the Tech Innovation Showcase. Hosted by the UH Division of Energy and Innovation’s Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation, the event allowed industry and academia to get an in-depth look at the world-changing developments happening within the heart of Houston’s innovation ecosystem.

“UH is a powerhouse in inventing and discovering new science, engineering and technology ideas, concepts, equipment and systems. We are a Top 100 patent producing university in the country,” said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president for Energy and Innovation. “The showcase allowed us to connect our inventions – and more importantly inventors – with industry subject matter experts, entrepreneurs and start-up leaders and capital managers to help shape the path to commercialization and make the necessary pivots.”

The presentations ran the gamut of societal issues, with research centered on hydrogen, circularity, lithium-ion batteries, superconductivity, transportation infrastructure and more.

Sina Nazifi, a post-doctoral researcher who works with Cullen Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Hadi Ghasemi, aimed to address the issue of icing with his work. 

Through a fundamental concept of fracture-controlled materials – which centers on the development of a sprayable ice-shedding material that has out-performed several state-of-the-art aerospace technologies and protects against ice buildup – this research paves the way for innovations in materials for aerospace, wind energy and other industrial and commercial applications.

“I needed the motivation to be sure that the work I’m doing is useful,” Nazifi said. “I had the opportunity to visit colder environments during the beginning of my doctoral studies to better understand the issues and why a product like this was needed. Being able to solve that is one of the driving forces behind what we’re doing.”

Joining Nazifi as one of the presenters was doctoral student Summer Dalgamouni, part of professor Stanko Brankovic’s lab team. Dalgamouni highlighted CSense, an innovative and highly sensitive sensor designed to deliver real-time, in-line measurements of chlorine levels in water and water-based environments. The sensor aims to ensure water safety and quality across a range of applications, including medical devices and industrial processes.

“This is something that can be widely used and applied,” Dalgamouni said. “I really care about research that benefits the society. I wanted to have a project that has a tangible impact that I can see when I graduate.”

Per Krishnamoorti, the goal of the showcase was to accelerate innovation at UH and connect the minds behind it with the right resources and partners in order to enact the promising solutions and technology created here.

“These inventions and discovery become valuable only when they address a challenge that people face and provide novel solutions,” he said. “We were thrilled with the engagement of the UH inventors and innovators driving excellence in materials science and engineering and the engagement we have had with experts from industry."