College students aim to commercialize laser that frees people from wrecked cars

Feb. 15, 2011
Entrepreneurship majors John Benjamin and Adam Odgaard are working to bring their Beam of Life Device (BOLD) laser system to market by 2012.

Muncie, IN--The anxiety of being trapped in a vehicle after a bad accident can be made worse by the deafening noise of equipment and sections of steel being pulled apart. Those days may soon be over, however, thanks to a laser cutting system originally created by the military for use in the field.

Ball State University entrepreneurship majors John Benjamin and Adam Odgaard are working to bring their Beam of Life Device (BOLD) laser system to market by 2012. The project is among many in Military 2 Market (M2M), a partnership between Ball State and the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, located in southern Indiana.

BOLD is aimed at replacing cutting blades and piston-rod hydraulic tools currently used by the vast majority of emergency rescue teams around the world.

"The first time we saw the system being used at Crane, we both thought this is something that could easily change the way accident victims are cut out of vehicles," Benjamin says. "It cuts through a few inches of steel in just seconds. Emergency personnel want to get the victim to the hospital in the golden hour, or the first 60 minutes after an accident, in order to improve a person's ability to survive."

The device requires less space, weighs hundreds of pounds less, is easier to wield, and faster to step up and activate than current hydraulic systems, including the Jaws of Life.

M2M, the partnership that is making BOLD and other innovations possible, is a result of the military's desire to commercialize patents developed by engineers at Crane as well as at various installations around the world. During the process, students receive coaching from Navy technology transfer officers, laboratory scientists, and entrepreneurship faculty, says Michael Goldsby, entrepreneurship program director.

Benjamin and Odgaard are currently working with an Indiana firm to develop the prototype and then move ahead with manufacturing in the coming months. The two students plan to create a startup company as soon as they complete their bachelor's degree requirements in 2011.

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About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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