$100,000 matching grant from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) will fund development of student-designed prototypes
Creating entrepreneurs, diversifying the state’s economy, and providing real-world learning experiences for university students is a shared goal among state and College of Engineering leaders, as well as inventors and business owners across Nevada. Enter Noah Malgeri, founder of MRFL, with his concept for a disruptively new recreational equipment transportation product.
“I’m tall, and I can’t safely or reliably mount anything on a car roof, except on a compact vehicle,” said Malgeri. “I was surprised that there’s been no effort or new products to solve the shortcomings of conventional roof racks. Being a mechanical engineer, I came up with a design that would be functional, commercially appealing, and marketable.”
Working with UNLV mechanical engineering professor, Brendan O’Toole, who will be the principal investigator on the project, they secured funding through the UNLV Sports Research & Innovation Catalyst Grant Program which is supported by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development through its Knowledge Fund initiative.
Through this partnership, students will get a first-person perspective in the development and commercialization of a new consumer product through a Nevada-based startup company.
“In the College of Engineering, our goal is to not only develop inventive and skilled employees for industry, but also entrepreneurs who create new engineering and technology business ventures,” said Rama Venkat, dean of the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering. “This is an incredible opportunity for a team of undergraduate engineering students to be exposed to all aspects of that creative process.”
For students, the project will be conducted as a part of the semi-annual College of Engineering’s Fred and Harriet Cox Senior Design Competition, a senior capstone class that takes everything students have learned in the classroom and applies it to tackle a practical, real-world challenge.
“This project gives students a window into the creation of a small business, everything from fundraising to intellectual property, budgeting to manufacturing, all on a trajectory towards a tangible goal,” said Malgeri.
MRFL has designed a roof rack solution that overcomes the primary shortcoming associated with conventional roof rack systems: trouble reaching the load area to confidently, safely and reliably secure awkward and bulky cargo on top of a tall vehicle.
If successful the creation of the high-fidelity prototypes by students will facilitate the successful commercial launch of the Rebel Rack within one year of the completion of the project.
The $100,000 full-year Product & Service Development (PSD) Grant is a matching grant, with another $100,000 being committed by MRFL. The funds promote research and development in areas where UNLV has the greatest potential to impact the local economy through research, development and commercialization activities.
About Mojave Rail Fabrication Limited (MRFL)
MRFL is a Las Vegas-based company founded by Noah Malgeri, an experienced patent attorney who has worked with several technology startups as a founder, legal service provider and mentor.
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 31,000 students and 3,900 faculty and staff that has earned the nation’s highest recognition for both research and community engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. UNLV offers a broad range of respected academic programs and is committed to recruiting and retaining top students and faculty, educating the region's diverse population and workforce, driving economic activity, and creating an academic health center for Southern Nevada. Learn more at unlv.edu.