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Company to Watch: Delaware STAR Campus

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Kathleen S. Matt, dean of UD’s College of Health Sciences

The University of Delaware’s STAR Campus is more than a hub for science, technology and advanced research.

Its blend of academics and research, public and private entities and health care clinics serving the general public has the potential to become an innovative campus model for universities nationwide, says Kathleen S. Matt, dean of UD’s College of Health Sciences.

Built on the site of the former Chrysler assembly plant across South College Avenue from the UD athletics complex, the campus is home to not only College of Health Sciences clinics and labs but also innovative tech businesses like Bloom Energy and SevOne, a Delaware Technology Park business incubator, a Christiana Care urgent care clinic and Independence Prosthetics.

“Students have the opportunity to work directly with entrepreneurs at STAR Campus through internships and employment opportunities,” says Charles Riordan, vice president of research, scholarship and innovation at UD.

Cole Galloway, the physical therapy professor and head of GoBabyGo network

“What’s exciting to me,” Matt says, “is the opportunity it creates for collision – of academics, clinics, biomedical, research, education or entrepreneurship – and what it results in is collaboration.”

That collaboration brings inspiration, which leads to innovation and results in positive impacts. “Students come in, they see patients, they see problems, they find and design solutions, and with that you get innovation,” says Matt.

Opportunities and synergies abound at STAR. Businesses offer internships and possible employment for students, and the presence of health care and technology researchers provides an additional stimulus for businesses. In addition, area residents have easy access to health and physical therapy clinics, and their visits help build awareness of the university’s programs and community service.

“I live and die by connections to the community. The community wants to come in here, and that has pushed us to new levels,” says Cole Galloway, the physical therapy professor who heads the renowned GoBabyGo network based in the STAR Building. GoBabyGo transforms riding toys into battery-powered vehicles for children with mobility issues. The highly visible workspace on the building’s first floor provides ample room for modifying riding toys and testing them out with their young users.

“STAR has allowed us to dream a little bit,” says Galloway, adding that his next goal is to transform a group of nearby homes into a “mobility village,” where he and his students could provide services and conduct research to assist individuals with mobility needs.

In addition, a virtual-reality cave is in development in UD’s Health Sciences Complex on STAR Campus, and will be in operation for a pilot health-sciences summer camp for low-income and minority students in 2017.

Matt says STAR can be a prototype for the future of higher education. “The next-generation classroom won’t be a classroom at all,” she says. “It will be an enriched environment – hands-on, experiential, with plenty of online access. Today’s students learn differently.”

This article appeared in the premiere issue of Delaware Innovation Magazine, an overview of the state’s cutting edge industries and the people leading them. See the whole issue here.

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