Top: Cassidy Geddes, left: Daniel Glynn, bottom left: Vijay Shah, bottom right: Daniel Lane, right: Dr. Timothy Childs
Physics and philanthropy aren’t often used in the same sentence, unless you’re talking about Dr. Timothy Childs. Dr. Childs worked for Honeywell as a research scientist in the 80’s before starting his own tech company ten years later. Located in North Minneapolis, TLC Millimeterwave Products Inc. has provided R&D for the U.S. Air Force and even NASA. As TLC’s influence grew, Dr. Childs continued to reach back, determined to provide opportunities for the next wave of young STEM professionals so they could succeed as he had.
Upon reflection, Dr. Childs said it was his internship at Bell Labs that changed his life and set him on this current path. He worked on an early supercomputer and developed his first patent there. That experience showed Dr. Childs new possibilities and it inspired him to host internships of his own.
A match made in STEM heaven
For several years, Dr. Childs hired students from the local community, offering his support through industry exposure and even college scholarships. In 2019, Pat Dillion of the MNSBIR program recommended that Dr. Childs expand his internship capabilities by hiring through the SciTech Internship Program, a state-funded small business resource that would enable him to hire more students while still providing competitive pay.
“There is great synergy between SciTech and MNSBIR,” Dillon said, “it was a pleasure to connect Tim to the program.”
Dr. Childs has worked with SciTech ever since. “It’s an amazing MN program that is directly accelerating students to contribute to advanced technological solutions that can help society now and in the future,” he said, “By connecting high tech companies with high tech candidates, it’s effective and efficient[…] We got quite a few inquiries from the SciTech posting this year,” around 15 applicants or more. Of all the interested candidates, however, only four made the cut.
Cassidy Geddes, a biomedical engineering major, was welcomed back for her second paid internship at TLC. Daniel Glynn and Vijay Shah, both mechanical engineering majors, along with Daniel Lane, a physics and mathematics major, were all newcomers, but none-the-less ready and willing for what lay ahead.
A patent for change
Their TLC projects ranged from developing theoretical systems to building and testing applicable systems from scratch. But their biggest task, and greatest accomplishment came as a rare and special opportunity: Getting their names on the patent for a Covid virus detection system.
“The team this year did an amazing job,” Dr. Childs said proudly. “We did a patent at the beginning of the summer, and all of the interns are on this patent. If what we’re doing works, which it seems like it does, we can basically affect and change how medicine is being done going forward. Now, we’ve pretty much exhausted the testing that we can do here. I just got confirmation this morning that the University of Minnesota is going to start working with us on verification and we’re getting ready to go into discussions with Mayo.”
TLC is currently focused on meeting FDA guidelines for their rapid on-site virus detection system that they expect to go beyond COVID to detect other diseases, as well as many other novel applications.
“When I got this internship at TLC, I wasn’t expecting it to be such a big thing,” Glynn said. “I’d say it’s been a very pleasant surprise and a very good summer.”
“It was really inspiring to be working on actual things that will, hopefully, improve the world,” agreed Lane.
“It’s awesome to see the system we designed work so well,” Shah said.
“It’s crazy to have worked on such an important project,” said Geddes. “Not only are we able to be involved, but the responsibilities and the freedom that we were given on such a big project I feel speaks to the company’s work ethic and how good they are.”
STEM for all
Much of that good comes from Dr. Childs himself. Whether he’s enabling SciTech interns to make their mark on modern medicine or supporting inner city students through his TLC Education Foundation and other community efforts, if there’s an opportunity to help young people in STEM, you can bet that Dr. Childs is involved.
“I believe the key is that the TLC technical team and community collaborators/ supporters help our interns and our foundation program students realize their potential and capabilities and how their talents can impact society,” Dr. Childs said. “Then I love seeing them convert that realization into a passion to pursue quality research and education. I am simply passing forward what Dr. James West, Dr. Neville Smith, Dr. Anderson (Nobel Prize Physicist) and others at Bell laboratory took the time to afford me.
“As president of TLC, our team will continue to utilize [SciTech] to give students a similar opportunity that changed my life. This is one of the best MN college/industry resource programs I have seen in the last 20 years. Thank you, SciTech and the State of MN!”
Make your own impact on a future STEM professional’s life and start planning your internship today at scitechmn.org. At least 120 wage matches are available on a first come, first hire basis between now and August 2021.