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NTHU Students Develop Effects Unit for Electric Guitar
When Fang Chia-hong completed his undergraduate program at NTHU last year and entered the straight-thru Ph.D. program in physics, he began to wonder about how to make physics more relevant to daily life. As a result, his interest began to shift from academics to enterprise. It also happens that Fang plays electric guitar in a band consisting of fellow students, and together they developed an effects unit (an electronic device for modifying the sound of a musical instrument) they call it the “smart effects unit.” In July they entered it in the “Intercollegiate Event for Matching Young Inventors with Angel Investors.” Their entry won first place in the “investment potential” category. A total of 17 teams from eight schools participated in the event.
Now in the second year of his doctoral program, Fang recalls how in his junior year one of his teachers had him do some work based on a dissertation written by an NTHU graduate. In the process of groping around in unfamiliar territory, he learned a lot on how to conduct independent study in an effective manner. His teacher was impressed and nominated him for the straight-thru doctoral program. Then last year, when he read Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, he was inspired to try his hand at creative enterprise along with some of his classmates. After a false start or two, in March of this year they decided on developing an effects unit. Little did they know that a few short months later their product would have received such a positive reception that they would be ready to begin raising funds to set up a company.
Fang says that every time a practice session concludes, because he has to pack up his bulky effects units, he is always the last to leave. After internet research confirmed that lots of other electric guitarists also felt encumbered by unwieldy effects units, he decided to team up with his classmate Chang Li-wen, a hardware specialist, to develop an effects unit which is smaller, lighter, and simpler, and can be operated using app control. In addition, they also wanted to make their device more stylish, so as to be more in line with the “Internet of things” trend.
Fang says that to develop an effects unit, you have to understand music, technology, and software. He adds that developing such a unit doesn’t require cutting-edge technology, but rather the ability to integrate expertise in various fields, which is where his background in physics was so helpful.
With an average age of 22, their team is called “Tri-in” (integrate + inspire => incredible), and also includes Li Kuan-yi of the Department of Quantitative Finance and Ding Ai-wei of the Institute of Technology Management. Li has worked for the technical consulting firm Coasis and the platform 9¾, and is using her networking ability and familiarity with the market to link up with potential collaborators. Ding is applying his public relations suave to marketing their product.
As Lin Bo-wen, the Director of NTHU’s Incubation Center, puts it “People are the key!” Venture capitalist looks at development potential. In addition to an effective division of labor, the Tri-in team also understands that it’s not enough to solve your own problems, but that you have to come up with a solution that benefits lots of other people too. In their search for financial backing, in May of this year the Tri-in team approached the Germination Center, and in July entered the “Intercollegiate Event for Matching Young Inventors with Angel Investors.” Lin says that he was highly impressed with Tri-in’s enthusiasm, problem-solving ability, and practical attitude.
In the words of Professor Chang Tsun-Hsu of the Physics Department, “Chia-hong has matured a lot over the past year; he’s learned how to interact with the market and how to deal with difficult personnel issues.” Chang also points out the important role of the Germination Center. Chang recognized Fang’s academic potential when the latter was in his junior year; and now that Fang is engaging in entrepreneurial endeavors, Chang is still highly optimistic about Fang’s future, stating, “doctoral studies are all about finding ways to solve problems; whether you apply your talent to research or to enterprise, the main thing is that you make a positive contribution to society!”
 Members of the Tri-in team: Li Kuan-yi, Fang Chia-hong, and Chang Li-wen (left to right).

Members of the Tri-in team: Li Kuan-yi, Fang Chia-hong, and Chang Li-wen (left to right).

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