HKS Medical Information Systems is the 2005 winner of the Walter Scott Entrepreneurial Business Award. HKS Medical Information Systems was founded in 1993 by Dr. Byers Shaw of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Hubert Hickman and Paul Kenyon. The company develops, sells and implements software for hospitals to track solid organ transplant data. These products improve the quality of patient care and operational efficiencies for their clients.
Brett Chloupek, Dustin Kozal, Aaron Graddy and Davin V. Jones, all students in computer science/information systems at UNK, are winners of the Peter Kiewit Student Entrepreneurial Award. The students repaired and restored the UNK carillon bell tower by creating software to schedule bell-ringing and music selection for the tower, and configuring hardware to operate the bells.
Both awards were created in 1999 to recognize entrepreneurial achievement through the application of technology. The Kiewit award honors University of Nebraska students who have demonstrated creative and innovative uses of information technology. The student award is accompanied by a $2,500 prize. The Scott award honors businesses that operate in Nebraska and have developed relationships with the University of Nebraska in the area of technology. The business award includes a $10,000 prize to be used for the creation or promotion of student work-experiences in the fields of information science, technology and engineering. Award nomination and selection is coordinated by NU Executive Vice President and Provost Jay Noren and selection is made by a committee of outstanding peers.
“These awards signify the importance of the relationship between the University of Nebraska and Nebraska businesses, and how the entrepreneurial spirit is invaluable for the future of this state,” said University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken. “These projects are examples of the technical ingenuity we have among our faculty and students. The ability to identify a problem and pose innovative solutions is essential to economic development.”
HKS products include OTTR, (Organ Transplant Tracking Record), the market leader in patient tracking software for organ transplant centers, and OTTR-HLA, a comprehensive software system to support the patient management, reporting and regulatory needs of the HLA (human leukocyte antigens) laboratory. The products serve a niche market for premier transplant centers in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Dr. Shaw is a transplant surgeon, and incorporated his knowledge of transplant medical record-keeping and workflow into the OTTR application. Dr. Kenyon has been active in the company since its founding and serves as chief technology officer. He is on faculty at University of Nebraska at Omaha. Today, HKS has grown to serve 40 hospitals, representing over 120 organ transplant groups. Its staff includes 23 in software sales, development and support. The company was recognized in 2003 by INC. magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the U.S. More information is on its Web site, www.hksys.com. The company has created opportunities for students through the Peter Kiewit Institute Technology Development Corp., created partnerships with the university, built an entrepreneurial community partnership with UNMC and advanced the business climate in Nebraska through Nebraska physician clinics and national user group meetings in Omaha.
The Peterson/Yanney Memorial Bell Tower stands as the UNK’s defining landmark. Dedicated in 1986, it rang for nearly 18 years before falling silent in 2002, a victim of disrepair and outdated technology. Estimates to repair and upgrade the tower from private companies came in around $50,000. The four students decided to address the issue, with the goal to develop a low-cost solution to restore bell functionality. Chloupek served as team leader, and recruited Kozal, a programmer, Graddy, a programmer with background in professional music composition and recording, and Jones, with electronics expertise. The team created software to schedule bell ringing and music selection, and engineered a new set of hardware components to operate the bells. The software integrates with the UNK Web site, allowing on-line bell-ringing and music selections. Using a standard MIDI (musical instrument digital interface), the software sends signals to the newly refurbished bell-ringing mechanism.
The project was accomplished for less than $1,000 provided by the vice chancellor for business and finance, and Chloupek said the software and hardware is sustainable and will provide the UNK campus and Kearney community with “many years of beautiful carillon music.” In addition, the team believes they have a recipe for a startup enterprise and have been in contact with companies about purchasing their technology, or patenting the MIDI controller circuitry design they devised. The students are scheduled to present the project at an undergraduate research conference this spring.