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Bryton Praslicka and Daniel Zamarron’s startup company, FluxWorks LLC, is a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears and magnetic gear-integrated motors. | Image: Courtesy of McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

Bryton Praslicka, doctoral student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Daniel Zamarron, Master of Business Administration student in Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, received the first-place award at the 2022 Aggie PITCH competition on March 7 for their startup company, FluxWorks LLC, claiming the McFerrin Cup and $7,500 toward their venture.

A total of 20 startups were selected as finalists for the competition, which was separated into three divisions: Full Pitch for current students, Full Pitch for former students and Elevator Pitch, which was open to both.

FluxWorks is a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears and magnetic gear-integrated motors, which it will be using for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and future electric vertical takeoff and landing air taxi vehicles. Praslicka and Zamarron both have experience building magnetic gears in the Advanced Electrical Machines and Power Electronics Lab at Texas A&M. Unlike mechanical gears, which create their torque effect through the meshing of teeth, magnetic gears create torque through magnetic fields in the air, providing contactless force transfer.

By using magnetic gears, FluxWorks can reduce acoustic sound and maintenance requirements and increase the lifetime of the aircraft significantly while keeping the size and weight the same. By combining this technology with motors, FluxWorks can offer a competitive alternative for future delivery drones and air taxis that provides clean, quiet and affordable electric aviation.

“I believe in the technology,” Zamarron said. “This is the future. I feel it.”

Praslicka started FluxWorks in October 2021, and Zamarron joined a few months later in January 2022. One month after its inception, Praslicka won first place in the McFerrin Center’s Raymond Ideas Challenge, and then in February, the duo competed in the regional EnergyTech UP challenge. This collegiate competition challenges multidisciplinary student teams to develop and present a business plan that leverages lab-developed and other high-potential energy technologies. It is sponsored by the Office of Technology Transitions at the U.S. Department of Energy. Praslicka and Zamarron are set to virtually compete in the EnergyTech UP National Pitch Finals on March 24.

Take advantage of the resources available at Texas A&M.

Bryton Praslicka

They have now completed their phase-one fundraising goal and are now moving into phase two, which is product development. Currently, they are continuing with competitions to help with funding, in addition to pursuing government grants. Looking ahead, they are aiming for a summer 2024 flight demonstration of their technology.

“We'd like to see our magnetically geared motors on a UAV, so people can see the technology in action firsthand and express interest,” Praslicka explained.

As a doctoral student working under electrical and computer engineering Raytheon Professor Dr. Hamid Toliyat, Praslicka has issued five patent applications related to magnetic gears and has designed and fabricated five magnetic gears and magnetically geared motors. He has also written multiple successful Phase I Small Business Innovation Research proposals and a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer proposal.

Zamarron received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Texas A&M and previously served in the United States Marine Corps before pursuing his Master of Business Administration. He leveraged his past experiences as a mechanic and electrical engineer to help develop two magnetic gear prototypes and file a patent.

Both Praslicka and Zamarron encourage other students to step into the entrepreneurial space and to not be afraid.

“When people say they don't like their job, I just don't get it,” Praslicka said. “I do not have that in common, you know? I have a lot of fun. Also, don't do it alone. It has been incredibly important to take advantage of being here on campus. There's not a book that you can read that's like, ‘Here's how to start a company,’ because each company just looks so different, so you need to be put in contact with people that can help you. Take advantage of the resources available at Texas A&M.”