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Rose-Hulman students help model train co.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Rose-Hulman Ventures, a technology-based incubator and product development center, announced that it is providing technical assistance and incubator space to Terre Haute-based The Signaling Solution, Inc., a developer and supplier of electronic and other products for the model railroad market.

William Ataras, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology alumnus and founder of W. S. Ataras Engineering expanded the company's operations to develop and manufacture high-technology electronic products for the model railroad hobby industry. The Signaling Solution, Inc. is the corporation formed to carry out this expansion.

Rose-Hulman Ventures will help the company develop a line of fully integrated electronic modules that can be configured to implement virtually any model railroad control strategy without calling upon the customers to write their own computer software. Rose-Hulman Ventures' technical assistance includes hardware and software design.

The Signaling Solution currently has four existing products in the marketplace including master signal controller, block occupancy detector, grade-crossing controller and grade-crossing expander. These legacy products use microcontrollers that integrate all of the necessary control logic for a related group of trackside signals, including the effects of track switch positions and train direction, and the operation of gates and flashing crossbucks for multi-track grade crossings.

Hongwei Liu, Rose-Hulman Ventures project engineer, said that six Rose-Hulman students majoring in electrical and computer engineering are an integral part of the technical team. Liu added, "Not only is this good practical professional experience for our students but they have the opportunity to work with an experienced engineer with proven technology and great credentials," Liu added.

Ataras has 36 years of professional engineering practice in the aero space, communications and major appliance industries while employed by General Electric and several aerospace companies.

He recently served as a consultant for The Great Train Story, the 3,500 square foot model railroad exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It took the project team of 40 people over 12 months to complete this permanent exhibit, which depicts the railroad's journey between Chicago and Seattle.

Ataras said, "We are honored to be working with the staff and students of Rose-Hulman. Everyone here, in both the engineering and business development areas, is expert in their respective fields. The Signaling Solution is looking forward to a long and rewarding relationship with Rose-Hulman." He added that the company is accepting a limited number of first round angel investors.

With the development of the new products, The Signaling Solution will earn the seal of approval for technical development standards set by the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA). The company will feature the NMRA seal in all advertising as one significant way to distinguish itself from other U.S. competitors.

The Signaling Solution was recently named client of the year by the Terre Haute chapter of the Small Business Administration's Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE). SCORE is a national premiere business counseling and advice service that provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a wealth of resources and information.

Ralph Cutter, president of the Terre Haute chapter said that SCORE counselors helped Ataras develop a solid, effective business plan tailored to potential investors. Cutter added, "Ataras exceeded many challenges and milestones which puts the company in the best position for success."

Rose-Hulman Ventures president Jim Eifert said, "We are particularly pleased to provide assistance to a Terre Haute company to help them succeed." Eifert added, "The relationship also provides valuable educational experiences for our students who are significant contributors in the hardware and software development."

About The Signaling Solution

The Signaling Solution, Inc. is a high-tech company that develops electronic products for the model railroading industry.

About Rose-Hulman Ventures

Rose-Hulman Ventures is creating economic growth and career opportunities for technical professionals in Indiana and enhancing educational experiences for college students and faculty. The Lilly Endowment, Inc. awarded multi-million grants to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to establish Rose-Hulman Ventures. For the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report magazine ranked Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology No. 1 among all colleges and universities that offer the master's as the top degree in engineering.

For more information, visit www.rhventures.org and www.rose-hulman.edu.

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