SOCORRO, N.M. May 9, 2011 – A New Mexico Tech student project from the management and computer science departments is one of 10 statewide awards from the N.M. Small Business Assistance program for 2011.

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Dr. Dean Wilkinson (center) displays log books that cover one year's worth of paperwork required by the federal government to report the chain of possession of contolled substances. Software developed by New Mexico Tech students will eliminate the hardcopy records. At left is Tech professor Dr. Frank Reinow. At right is state Rep. Don Tripp.
 
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Dr. Frank Reinow (left) and Rep. Don Tripp (right) presented a 2011 Innovation Award to Dr. Dean Wilkinson at Animal Haven Veterinary Clinic in Socorro.

A team of management and computer science students, working with Animal Haven Veterinary Clinic in Socorro, have nearly completed a package of custom software and tablet-like hardware to make it easier for clinic staff to track and log controlled drugs from inventory to patient dispensing.

Dr. Frank Reinow, management instructor, accepted the award at a special banquet in early April. He and state Rep. Don Tripp III presented the award to clinic co-owner Dr. Dean Wilkinson on May 3. Tripp has long been supportive of the Small Business Assistance program (and is a New Mexico Tech graduate, as well).

“I thought the students did an extremely good job because they designed this thing from scratch,” Reinow said. “They didn’t use any kind of existing applications.”

Rep. Tripp said the national laboratories enjoy a deduction in gross receipts tax (sales tax) from the State of New Mexico. In exchange for the deductions, the labs provide funding for the Small Business Assistance program.

“It’s been a very viable program over the years,” Tripp said. “It’s one of the things the government does that works well.”

Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories both participate in the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program. The program pairs students with private companies. The overarching goal is assessing technology needs of firms and providing input for solving problems. The program funds dozens of projects each year. New Mexico Tech has participated for the past two years, and has been recognized with an Innovation Award each of the past two years. In 2010, Reinow and another team of students were honored for their work with Intor Inc., a Socorro manufacturer of optical thin films.

The students working with Animal Haven developed an inexpensive digital solution to replace a time-consuming and cumbersome manual recordkeeping system. To comply with federal regulations, veterinary clinics must keep copious records of their medications. One year’s worth of logs is contained in a six-inch thick binder.

The project team initially was Jessica Stringfield, John Franks, Holly Priestley and Adam Troemner during the spring 2010 semester as part of Management 462: Systems Risk and Decision Analysis. They assessed the market for available electronic medical records programs –many of which are expensive and are only partial functionality.  They then began software development using SQL.

“This started out as a one-semester project,” Reinow said. “But it turned into a significant undertaking in terms of time and effort.”

Franks and Troemner continued the project in the fall 2010 semester as part of another Reinow course: IT 482: Secure Systems Design Project Course. Now, Franks is finishing up the final product. Franks is putting the finishing touches on the graphic-user interface. The finished product will be delivered to Animal Haven within a few weeks.

Troemner said the project gave them an excellent real-world experience.

“In most homework assignments, you assume an imaginary client,” Troemner said. “This project forces you to interact and to enter a real business environment. We’re not working in a vacuum.”

Dr. Peter Anselmo, Management Department chair, said these Small Business Assistance partnership programs showcase the capabilities of Tech students.

“Tech provides a uniquely rigorous and stimulating student environment,” Anselmo said. “Our unique Management of Technology program, where students gain engineering knowledge that complements their Management training, gives our students the unique skill set necessary to succeed in a commercial context that is defined by technology.”

“The labs are interested in working with universities,” Reinow said. “The purpose is to reach out and work with local small businesses and help them develop.”

Tripp said he’s impressed with the product that the students have created. He hopes other veterinary clinics can benefit from the new software package, and that New Mexico Tech can benefit from commercializing the application.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech