Iowa State coach Matt Campbell following his team’s second spring workout
Tommy Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — Iowa State’s newest football player could be a poster person for everything that’s right — or at least for everything can become better, if you possess the determination to make it that way.
I learned that while researching Justin Bickham, the Cyclones’ graduate transfer who started 23 games at Rice and who in August, could be a starting cornerback in the season-opening game against Northern Iowa.
He’s a deep thinker. He’s a see-a-problem, solve-a-problem kind of young man. See something wrong, invent something that makes it better. That’s his engine, which leads to the question:
For what do you want to be known? A football player or an entrepreneur?
“No one’s ever asked me that before,” he responded. “How about both?”
Works for me.
Between the time Bickham walks onto campus next month — he’s got his Rice graduation in which to participate, first — and that first game, you’ll be loaded with such Owls stats like 56 tackles, 23 pass breakups and that he started as a true freshman.
By the time it’s taken you to digest it all, and then plug into it what he means to an Iowa State cornerback position that’s a bit thin, the 6-foot-1, 196-pounder from Pflugerville, Texas, might have come up with another invention.
“I think of a problem, then come up with a solution and draw a design,” Bickham said. “I’m kind of addicted to it.”
He joined the campus’ RiceOwlSpark program that “provides hands-on entrepreneurship experiences and a road map from innovation to commercialization. … A family of like-minded thinkers and doers to make a difference,” according to the synopsis on the school’s website.
“I thought it’d be mostly students, but a lot of older people are involved, too,” he said. “I’ve got a book that I take notes in whenever an idea pops into my head, but I wanted to get experience on the business side, too.
“I want to know how to run a successful business, how to look at patents and get grants.”
Bickham’s latest project is “Dose Capacity,” a pill bottle that helps people with their medications — specifically, it helps people not abuse their meds.
“At Rice, a year and a half ago, one of my better friends on the team died from basically personal reasons — and it gave me the idea,” Bickham said. “What’s stopping anybody from taking more than what they’re prescribed?
“Doctors — when I tore my ACL — gave me 80 pills at one time. You’re young. You can get addicted easily, so I tried to come up with a way to connect patient with doctor.
“Every time you open the pill bottle, you send an alert to the doctor. It’s a little like checking into work.”
Bickham said the cost is what sets apart the bottle that he and a handful of others are still working on.
“We’re trying to make our design as financially feasible as we can, while still maintaining quality,” Bickham said.
For now, they’re not publicly showing the design. Eventually, they’ll seek input from a patent attorney.
“We’ve got a couple people interested in investing,” Bickham said. “We’ve got a 3D prototype. Everything’s in the works.”
Iowa State has been on Bickham’s radar for a while — he remembers getting some interest from previous coach Paul Rhoads’ staff. Neither the Cyclones, nor anyone else, had much of a chance, considering Bickham committed to Rice as a high school junior.
“I was firm with Rice,” he said. “I didn’t even visit Iowa State back then.”
He visited this time. He’ll be on campus for the start of summer school. He’ll bring the Dose Capacity concept with him.
“It’s definitely something I’ll keep working on,” he said, “when I’m not working towards my master’s degree. I have my little notebook. I’ll keep writing things down that I’ll either pursue right away or later on.
“It’s what I do.”
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register