PMD 1998-1999: Pinocchio becomes a “Real Boy”

I mentioned in my last post that fairly early on we realized we would need better drawings than Suzanne’s concept sketches – we needed to find The PedREST storysomeone who could take her ideas and turn them into something that could be built. In my mind this meant engineering drawings…trouble was, I didn’t know any engineers. So…where to start???

It is here that I’m proud to say I made one of the best decisions I’ve made in the 15+ years since this whole thing started. I say this because I’ve also made a lot of dumb ones…and I’ll share those with you too…but for now I’m going to share what turned out to be a terrific path for us to follow.

It’s July of 1998 and we need engineers…I’m thinking we should probably be looking for someone with a bio-engineering background (given the nature of our device)…oh, and did I mention we have very limited (think non-existent) funds? So I’m racking my brains (and questioning everyone I know) and it occurs to me that we have a great engineering school right here in Atlanta: Georgia Tech. I checked online and found the contact information for their engineering program and sent them a note:

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am a young entrepreneur who is working with a friend /colleague on a medical device that we believe will significantly impact the emergency medical care environment. As such, I am writing to request your assistance.

Having begun our patent process, we would like to secure engineering drawings of our concept and materials recommendations. As we are just starting out and operating on a “shoestring” budget, we were interested in obtaining the services of a talented graduate student. We are of course prepared to compensate him /her for time spent preparing the drafts, evaluating materials, etc. We were hoping this might be a project that could be of some interest to one of your students, and would gratefully appreciate if you could recommend one of your “best and brightest;” someone who might be willing to accept modest fees in exchange for “interesting resume material” (after the patent is secure).

Thank you in advance for any advice and/or assistance you can lend in this endeavor. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail or phone at your convenience.

Not long after I was contacted by Dr. Wepfer from the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering with suggestions of professors to contact who might have students with similar interests. After speaking with several of them I had received enough student recommendations to begin interviewing and not long after that we hired two of them.

I know that to some of you this may not have been the most exciting part of Pediatric Medical’s story…but for anyone undergoing the “invention” process, finding folks to work with that are both skilled and affordable can end a project before it even begins. Working with smart, creative grad students can be a win for both of you – not only can you access the talent you need to bring your ideas to life but in turn you can provide them with the one thing students usually lack when they enter the workforce…“real world experience”.

By the summer of 1999 we had our first set of drawings completed, PMD had incorporated and we had a new set of attorneys ready to help us get our patent out. Our chief engineer soon graduated and went on to work at JPL – a NASA research and design centers specializing in the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft (thank you Wikipedia). We continued to work with him for a number of years, continuously innovating and improving on our original concepts. Looking back though, it was the events of that summer and the help of our “rocket scientist”…that finally brought Pediatric Medical to life.

Until next time…thanks for listening…

About the Author

Stefanie Zucker is President and co-founder of Pediatric Medical and Managing Director and co-founder of Axios Partners, a strategy consulting firm. After a number of years spent researching the safety issues associated with transporting children on ambulances she became a child health safety advocate and formed Pediatric Safety with a goal of creating a world-wide movement of parents and caregivers inspired to protect the health and safety of kids. Stefanie is a member of the PedSafe Team


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  1. […] I mentioned in my last PedREST post …by 1999 we had the first set of engineered “concept drawings” of our Pediatric Emergency […]

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