Former AHERC Director’s Startup a Great Student Opportunity

Former AHERC Director’s Startup a Great Student Opportunity

Jerry Johnson, former director of the Alaska Hydrokinetic Energy Research Center and co-founder of Coupi Inc., has four students working for him in the Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship lab.

The four student interns are working on a computer program created by the UAF spinoff company to use the “discrete element method” to successfully model and predict particle movement under different scenarios.

At AHERC, Johnson used DEM while designing a deflector to repel debris from energy-generating turbines in rivers.

The method predicts and simulates movement of individual particles including snowflakes, sand, and sediment.

The interns are not only running the program simulations but also writing the user manual and debugging and testing the program.

Johnson said time is an important element in consulting; he and his team are developing a computer program that is easy to use and efficient.

Coupi is working toward commercializing its product. If the company succeeds, the students may find themselves fully employed by the company. Until then, the interns will work just two more weeks on their contract to move the program forward and create a commercially ready product that could predict the movement of any particle across any surface at just about any speed.

Coupi interns, from left, Tristan Craddick, Luis Merques, Patricia Gerdes and David Schweigert are working on moving the Coupi software closer toward commercialization. Photo by Amanda Byrd.