Kennesaw State departments collaborate on health-related website

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 12, 2024

Bob Buresh and Chris Cornelison
Bob Buresh and Chris Cornelison
Kennesaw State professor of exercise science Bob Buresh had an idea and a goal.

He had an idea for a predictive website that could offer users the right amount of exercise each day in the form of a step count to achieve, based on information provided to the website. But how could he bring that idea to the marketplace?

KSU’s Office of Intellectual Property Development helped Buresh take the necessary steps to bring his Stepping Forward program closer to launch by helping him secure a patent and pursue funding.

“This was a true collaborative effort,” Buresh said. “Working with the Office of IP Development to patent the idea was such a great experience, and I look forward to bringing this idea to fruition.”

The effort to bring the website to market originates on campus, too, thanks to the Innovation Launch Pad. Housed in KSU’s Office of Intellectual Property Development, the Innovation Launch Pad is a six-session course on entrepreneurship for academics, followed by six months of coaching to get an idea to market. Both the Office of IP Development and the ILP is headed up by Chris Cornelison, currently the interim associate vice president for innovation and commercialization and the director of intellectual property development.

“It's been a tremendous pleasure to support Dr. Buresh’s invention,” said Cornelison, also an associate professor of microbiology. “He was very responsive and patient as we moved through the process. As you work on these projects you get to know all the details and become invested in the outcome as if you are also an inventor. Seeing the project develop into a prototype and ready for clinicians to work with it and give Dr. Buresh feedback on how we can fine-tune his work to create an improved product to positively impact the lives for clinicians and patients has been very rewarding.

Buresh came up with Stepping Forward over a period of years as a researcher in making exercise accessible. His research shows that a person can literally take steps toward a healthy lifestyle with an optimized walking plan—take a certain number of steps each day, and body fat percentage will go down. From there, his research came up with a predictive model to determine how many steps a person should take based on their body weight and other biometric factors.

“The idea is that so many of us are now not active enough to achieve a baseline of good health,” Buresh said. “We published a paper based on our research with young and middle-aged people that boosts our argument that walking is a great way to improve one’s health, so we conceived a website using our predictive model.”

From there, Buresh pondered bringing to market a website, or perhaps an app for smartphones that integrates user-provided data to create an exercise program. Enter Cornelison and the Innovation Launch Pad. Cornelison said Buresh participated in a 15-week training session that helped him understand startup methodology and approach potential customers while assessing marketability of the product, critical for researchers.

“Dr. Buresh is an ideal example of what can be gained from the program,” Cornelison said. “Initially he would start off every meeting with a statement like ‘Please forgive my ignorance, this is a totally new area for me.’ And as the program progressed, he developed a robust understanding of the process of customer discovery and leveraging the data generated to inform the development of his solution. Being open to learning new ideas is key to getting the most out of the program.

With the prospects of marketability emerging, Buresh then needed to get the website running, or at least in an alpha stage. Cornelison referred Buresh to CCSE’s Industry Capstone program, where each software engineering graduate fulfills a graduation requirement of a project that brings a product to market. The college receives both internal and external opportunities for this purpose, and students choose their final projects from a list of prospective ventures.

“Dr. Buresh had this idea for a website, and he gave the students the algorithm,” said Darin Morrow, senior lecturer of information technology in CCSE. “The students worked on the user interface aspects of the site—they made it alive and built the software, thanks in part to a student interested in health and exercise.”

An avid exerciser, Hayley Rymer gravitated toward Buresh’s Stepping Forward project because of her interest in science and learning about the human body. She read Buresh’s study while doing the Capstone project, which brought home the ready efficacy of a walking program and ignited her commitment to creating a website that can help people get in shape.

“One of the beautiful things about software engineering is that it can touch on any interest that you have because everything with a website has code behind it,” said Rymer, who graduated from KSU in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. “I thought it was so fascinating to have a way to help people just by walking, which has such great benefits on the human body. This project satisfied the science that I’m interested in, but it also provided me a way to problem solve and code, which I’ll take into my career.”

The website remains in a bit of a holding pattern as Buresh seeks internal and external funding to develop the app, as well as more help from a CCSE student interested in revising and activating the website. Buresh said he has interest from physicians and psychologists within Wellstar Health System in the hope of getting patients on board with this exercise program.

“This project can truly help people live better lives, which is what we strive to do at KSU,” Buresh said. “It was a very interesting, rewarding and enjoyable process.”

This article is also published in the current issue of Summit Magazine.

– Dave Shelles

Photos by Darnell Wilburn Jr.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit