Engineering Alumni Duo's Product, 'Trek,' Wows Consumers, Companies and USD Trustee

The last three years have been quite a whirlwind for Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering alumni Chris Szczur and Scott Matthews. The December 2016 University of San Diego mechanical engineering graduates, since their junior year, have been entrenched in the journey of creating and implementing a camera slider product, known now as Trek.

Having gone through the engineering school’s Renaissance Initiative and its entrepreneurship program and having worked on their product as a senior class design project, Szczur, Matthews and assistance from Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering’s Professor of Practice and Director of Industry Partnerships, Dr. Venkat Shastri, Clarity Design President and USD adjunct professor Tom Lupfer, fellow USD students, faculty and staff along the way, progress for Trek has been moving fast.

Late last year, their product received more than $160,000 on an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Their company was incorporated as Dyno Equipment, and in January 2018, the two alumni were invited to one of the nation’s largest technology trade shows, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where they spent four days demonstrating it and meeting with companies interested in their product. One connection was with Apple, Inc. Szczur and Matthews have since had a business meeting with Apple in Cupertino, Calif., to discuss the company’s interest.

“It was an incredible experience,” Szczur said of both attending the CES and the chance to meet with Apple. “It’s amazing to go from being school engineers to having a business meeting on the Apple campus. We’re excited to see where it goes.”

USD Board of Trustees Presentation

As interest remains, Szczur and Matthews, along with Dr. Shastri and Lupfer, joined Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering Dean, Dr. Chell Roberts, to do a presentation on their entrepreneurial product during the USD Board of Trustees’ meeting on March 2.

Trek-Engineering-Shiley

“This experience exemplifies one of the things we’re trying to do for our students,” Roberts said to the Trustees about the entrepreneurship track that has already created eight student teams through Dr. Shastri’s assistance.

Szczur and Matthews at the conclusion of their timeline history of Trek from junior year to present day, then presented Darlene Marcos Shiley, USD Board of Trustees Chair Emerita and a major benefactor for the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering’s existence, with a series one version of the Trek.

Marcos Shiley’s late husband, Donald, who co-invented the Bjork–Shiley valve, a prosthetic heart valve, had worked on his invention in his garage. At the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering in Loma Hall, there is a dedicated space known as “Donald’s Garage.” Both Szczur and Matthews indicated that the Trek product’s origins came from time spent in USD’s Donald’s Garage space.

“The fact that this is emanating from Donald’s Garage is very important to me,” an emotionally appreciative Marcos-Shiley said upon being presented the Trek gift by Szczur. “I can’t tell you how proud I am. This is why people give money to schools and education; you get to see the process roll out — the kids learn, they get an idea and they go forward. Thank you.”

Read more about the background of the work put in by Szczur, Matthews and others to make this entrepreneurial dream product a reality.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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