Alicia Echevarria, a graduate student pursuing her M.S. degree in Civil Engineering, secured two awards in the 2012-2013 Connecticut Collegiate Business Model Competition. Echevarria was awarded Best Written Executive Summary for her online submission and Best Venture Business Plan after giving a three-minute presentation to a panel of judges in New Haven on December 14, 2012. Her entrepreneurial entry centered on Advanced Column Solutions, LLC (ACS), a company newly founded by Echevarria and her thesis advisor, Dr. Arash Zaghi.
Echevarria and Dr. Zaghi are co-inventors of an innovative structural column system, which is the novel technological foundation on which ACS is built. The team credits Professor-in-Residence Dr. Hadi Bozorgmanesh, whose Experiential Entrepreneurship course provided invaluable business startup cues, with helping to catalyze the business. Echevarria attended the semester-long course, where she learned the basics of entrepreneurship and launching a business. At the end of the term, she won a small grant for the startup and prepared for the Collegiate Competition.
Echevarria and Zaghi have applied for a U.S. patent on their newly invented column system, which provides multi-hazard resilience against blasts, seismic activity, truck collisions and fire exposure while eliminating the use of conventional steel reinforcement within reinforced concrete columns. Echevarria and Dr. Zaghi are committed to ensuring the success of their new company and have added a third partner, Dr. Sarira Motaref, who also brings expertise in structural engineering.
While balancing her academic responsibilities, Echevarria expects to expand her promotional activities aimed at attracting customers and investors for the business. Meanwhile, Dr. Zaghi will continue to refine the fundamental technology, which promises to enhance the safety, resilience and ease of installation of bridge columns across the nation.
Read about the team’s research, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, here.