Alum brings startups to life for Owl Edge extern

Matt Harrigan '07 brings startup entrepreneurs together under one impressive roof as managing director of Grand Central Tech in New York City.

When Harrigan hosted bioengineering major Andy Zhang '18 at Grand Central's Manhattan offices through the Owl Edge Externship program, he showed a current student (and aspiring entrepreneur) a day in the life of a tech accelerator.  

“The workplace was great, with different teams working side by side,” said Zhang, a member of Rice’s Comfortably Numb student design team working on a device to make injections less painful.

“It was a pleasure to give Andy the chance to see what we do every day,” said Harrigan. “I hope we added to his toolkit as he pursues his own vision. I wish I had something like this when I was at Rice.”

Learn more about how The Initiative for Students is giving Rice students the education of the future today.

Zhang and Comfortably Numb worked at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, guided by OEDK staff and faculty mentors. The team is currently in the process of applying for a provisional patent for the device, and the students hope to continue their work together in their spare time when they return to Rice as sophomores.

Harrigan knew about Zhang's work and was able to shape the experience with it in mind. "Matt introduced me to the medical technology and healthcare IT teams at Grand Central," said Zhang. "I had the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their ideas. It was really exhilarating to be welcomed to a city that I'd only been to once before, and it reflects how valuable it is to be a part of the Rice network."

They remain in touch. "He continues to be a mentor to me," said Zhang, "We bounce emails around and he takes time out of his busy schedule to answer any questions that I might have about starting my own business."

Rice alumni, through the Owl Edge Externship program, help students gain real-world experience and take their education to the next level. Post your externship or contact Debbie Diamond, director of special projects for Development and Alumni Relations, at


Learn more about how Owl Edge Extern and bioengineering major Andy Zhang (center) worked with computer science major Greg Allison (right) and mechanical engineering major Mike Hua worked to create a new solution to an age-old problem.

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