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Future entrepreneur can engineer his own products

2015-12-21 00:00:00.0

Vishal Chaurasia’s passion for building was obvious, even in middle school. Those first “contraptions” — an electronic marble sorter and hydraulic-powered gripper claw — gave way to more sophisticated gadgets and computer software by high school.

Vishal Chaurasia

Vishal Chaurasia speaks to the UA Board of Trustees.

With an equal passion for math and science, “engineering was a natural choice” for a career, says Chaurasia, who grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. He applied to top materials and polymer engineering programs across the country, and received offers from several, including The University of Akron. 

“According to all my research, UA's program was superior and hence, it was a clear cut choice from an academic perspective, which was my first criteria,” explains Chaurasia, who received the Buckingham/Orr Scholarship through the Honors College. “UA was also above expectations in all of my other factors, including residence life and housing, campus and facilities, extracurricular activities and more.

Multiple interests, interdisciplinary studies

Today, Chaurasia is pursuing an MBA at The University of Akron after being awarded a B.S. in Polymer Mechanical Engineering, summa cum laude here in May 2015. It was his “extremely interdisciplinary and holistic” undergraduate experience that led Chaurasia to continue his education at UA, he told members of the Board of Trustees during a recent presentation on his Akron Experience.

That experience included working on research projects on campus as well as several internships with companies in Buffalo, Akron and Manheim, Pa.

Darnell Davis and Vishal Chaurasia and Dale Mugler

Vishal Chaurasia, center, is pictured here with Student Trustee Darnell Davis and Dr. Dale Mugler, senior lecturer in biomedical engineering and former dean of the Honors College who mentored Chaurasia during his undergraduate years.

With his interest in polymer science, Chaurasia naturally gravitated toward the work being done in Dr. Ali Dhinojwala's lab, where he was introduced to biomimicry — the technique of learning from nature's designs to innovate synthetic systems that can have widespread applications.

Chaurasia was especially intrigued by the spider silk research being done by Dhinojwala, the Morton Professor of Polymer Science. Soon, Chaurasia was working on an interdisciplinary team of biologists, engineers and polymer scientists to uncover the secrets of spider silk adhesion.

“Working with that world class lab and top graduate students really laid my foundation for how to conduct scientific research,” notes Chaurasia.

Learning to innovate and commercialize

Later, Chaurasia gained additional research and business experience working with Akron Ascent Innovations LLC, a UA tech spin-off company that commercializes novel adhesives created in the lab of Dr. Shing Chung Wong, a professor of mechanical engineering.

The work led Chaurasia in new directions.

“As I became highly involved in polymer research projects on campus, I realized that my interests also lie technology commercialization and entrepreneurship,” says Chaurasia. “I became passionate about learning how to take a technology from the lab to the marketplace. I wanted to become the bridge between the technical and business disciplines by understanding and having a superior interdisciplinary education. 

“With a highly specialized degree in polymer mechanical engineering and an MBA, long-term career wise, I can see myself bridging the gap between the business and technical ends in an organization in the innovative polymer industry,” says Chaurasia.

“I do have plans to venture into entrepreneurship and start a polymer technology company,” he adds with a smile.