Two from Johns Hopkins named to annual Forbes '30 Under 30' list

Param Shah, Alex Mathews co-founded software-driven orthotics startup Fusiform

A close-up photo of a leg brace depicts two hands snapping into place a piece of the orthotic

Image caption: Fusiform's orthotics feature a modular, customizable design

Credit: Param Shah

A Johns Hopkins undergraduate and a recent graduate who have worked together on a software-driven orthotics startup have been named to the annual Forbes "30 Under 30" list.

Param Shah, a 21-year-old junior computer science major, and alum Alex Mathews, 22, were recognized in the Manufacturing and Industry category for their work on Fusiform. Improving on the slow and costly hand-casting process that dominates the orthotics industry, the team combines 3-D scanning technology with a proprietary modification software they developed to create cheaper, more cost-effective and customizable orthotic devices that feature a revolutionary modular design.

Param Shah (left) and Alex Mathews

Image caption: Param Shah (left) and Alex Mathews

The project is "tackling a lot of inefficiencies in a process that hasn't adapted since the 1970s," Mathews said in an interview with the Hub last year.

For Shah, who founded the nonprofit Lotus Life Foundation to provide rehabilitation support for children with disabilities in India, the goal evolved to improving the delivery of orthotics to children with cerebral palsy, muscle deformities, or conditions affecting walking gait.

"I thought, 'How do we get better orthotics to these kids faster?'" Shah told the Hub.

Fusiform received support from Accelerate Baltimore, which selected the project as one of six startups to take part in its incubator program last year and provided $25,000 in seed money. The team also got a boost from Hopkins' own incubator, the Social Innovation Lab, during its 2015-16 cohort.

The Forbes list, now in its sixth year, recognizes "the optimism, inventiveness and boldness of youth." This year, judges reviewed the more than 15,000 nominations that were submitted in order to refine the list to 600 honorees—30 winners in 20 categories who are "challenging the conventional wisdom and rewriting the rules for the next generation of entrepreneurs, entertainers, educators and more."