Computer scientist’s 'Musical Minds' earns him fellowship

July 26, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Alex Patin, a rising Penn State junior studying computer science and engineering, was recently selected for the Slavin Fellowship, which offers support, mentorship and a scholarship to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing potentially world-changing entrepreneurial projects, according to the Slavin Family Foundation website.

“We choose Fellows with strong personal qualities whose projects are new and ambitious, and where some support, guidance, and connections from us could go a long way,” said Nick Slavin, CEO of the Slavin Family Foundation. “I’ve personally been interested in the health potential of music for many years and, combined with our team’s experience advising and scaling new technologies like this, Alex’s project seemed like a great fit.”

Patin is co-founder and CEO of Musical Minds, a student-run business that is developing a system using brainwave technology to enhance our well-being. Their goal is to create an app and headphones that work together to play a song and see how the brain reacts to it. Then an algorithm they created will interpret the changes of a person’s brain and find the right kind of music to enhance his or her mood, focus and motivation.

Patin said the idea for Musical Minds came from a combination of his learning experiences. Last November, he was working on a software system that works with activity trackers—he was researching a person’s biometrics in response to the music he or she was listening to, then making the appropriate musical adjustments to make the most out of the workout. Around the same time he watched a documentary called “Alive Inside” about the benefits music has on patients with Alzheimer’s. Music has been proven to combat memory loss while restoring a deep sense of self for those with the disease. The research and the documentary led to Patin’s creation of Music Minds.

The company is comprised of 12 student engineers, neuroscientists, mathematicians and musicians, most of whom are from Patin’s hometown. Each is a full-time student working to bring Music Minds to fruition.

“The Slavin Foundation’s Fellowship will be extremely beneficial,” said Patin.“It focuses on everything across the board for a new business, with the help of an advisory board giving mentorship and support.”

According to Slavin, the idea behind the fellowship is to help and encourage the most brilliant and determined students change the world. When he started his own company as a college student, he didn’t get a lot of support. By building these students up, the foundation can make a positive difference, he said.

“We choose to support student entrepreneurs because that’s where we have some expertise and because there’s a need for a program like ours,” said Slavin. “Now there's a lot more support, but even at great universities there are students working on impressive projects who aren't attracted to available programs or just don't find all the right people there for them.”

Slavin found Patin, through Penn State’s Lunar Lion Program Director, Michael Paul. Paul met Slavin at a conference and Slavin asked him to recommend a standout student for the fellowship. As the director of the Lunar Lion program, Paul has met a lot of these students, and knew several fit the bill: students of great character and intelligence, but students with vision and ambition. He met with those students and from there selected Patin.

“While some of the students had great concepts and ideas, Alex was leaps and bounds into his work, and telling Alex’s story was easy, frankly,” said Paul. “The Slavin Foundation focuses on students committed to doing something to make the world a better place, and Alex’s vision and its potential impact on individuals was really profound. When he shared with me the details of his company, I was really moved by what he was trying to do and it was easy for me to write a letter of recommendation.”

Patin’s work has also earned him a 2016 Erickson Discovery Grant, funded through Penn State’s Office of Undergraduate Education with support from the College of Engineering. The grant supports undergraduate student engagement in original research, scholarship and creative work under the direct supervision of a faculty member.


  • Alex Patin

    EECS student Alex Patin

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 28, 2016