Dartmouth Engineering PhD Student Wins Inaugural AUS New Venture Challenge

February 15, 2019

By Catha Mayor Lamm

Danielle Castley
l to r: Ian McDonald, Danielle Castley, and Jordan Landis

PhD Innovation Program candidate Danielle Castley and her team won the Middle East’s most prestigious hard science investment competition for their radiation shielding materials company, Neutroelectric LCC. Castley and team developed a neutron-shield material for the nuclear power industry and other applications where radiation emissions are involved.

"The competition is for graduate students. It was an intense, three-day competition, but luckily we brought home a win for Thayer," said Castley. "My teammates are Ian McDonald, who recently graduated from Northeastern, and Jordan Landis who is currently in the MBA/MS engineering program at MIT."

The American University of Sharjah (AUS) announced:

"Neutroelectric LLC, from Dartmouth has taken out the largest cash prize—the Chancellor’s Award of US$50,000—in the American University of Sharjah New Venture Challenge (AUS NVC). The announcement was made at a special awards ceremony held at AUS on February 5, 2019. The ceremony was the culmination of three days of intensive competition between the 17 semi-finalists of the AUS NVC.

The AUS NVC invited teams of entrepreneurial graduates (or recent graduates) from universities around the world to submit a hard science-oriented innovation, entering the running to share in over US$200,000 worth of prizes, and the opportunity to pitch their idea to angel investors and venture capitalists. The challenge received more than 100 applications, with the semi-finalist teams hailing from some of the world’s most renowned universities. The finalists’ innovations included technologies covering a diverse range of science and engineering fields, including biomedical sciences, artificial intelligence, robotics and mechanical engineering, among others.

The winning team, Neutroelectric LLC., is a radiation shielding materials company that has developed a high temperature neutron shield to improve safety and reduce costs of the nuclear industry."

Castley's research has been funded by an NSF I-Corps grant and by a gift from Thayer's Energy Challenge Initiative, a fund established to support student and faculty research in the area of energy technologies. As a PhD Innovation student, Castley works with professor Jifeng Liu focusing on materials science and engineering.