BYU alumnus engineers products for stroke sufferers

Sheldon Murphy and a student employee of his enjoy working together. Murphy has the help of BYU students to build his inventions. (Sheldon Murphy)

Sheldon Murphy retired from a successful career in chemical engineering in 2007. In 2008, a stroke paralyzed the right side of his body, making it difficult for Murphy to perform normal tasks. He had to adjust to the new challenges of only using the left side of his body. He said this was the change in his life that motivated him to make a difference.

At his company, NU Innovations, the BYU alumnus sells products he has invented to make life easier for those with stroke-related disabilities.

“I like doing things for other people,” Murphy said. “I want to help other people with the things that have helped me in my life.”

The Orem man said he is an innovator and inventor by heart. He was born and raised on a farm in Montana. He managed to build a great work ethic and found ways to make working easier by improvising and improving the machinery around the farm. Taking it apart, trying to put it back together correctly, repairing, building and rebuilding it.

Murphy graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a PhD from the University of Utah. He worked in the chemical engineering field for 17 years.

The inventor is a recipient of the BYU College of Engineering and Technology Alumni Achievement Award in 1992 and the BYU Chemical Engineering Department Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2000.

Murphy said the number one reason he builds and invents new products is to help others.

He listed several innovations for sale on his website. One of the key innovations that has helped him since his stroke is the Ajuda, a device that allows people who have suffered a stroke to use utensils without the effect of their hand tremors impeding them from eating.

Mathew Bare is an employee for Sheldon Murphy at Nu Innovations. Bare is working on one of the many innovations Murphy has to offer from his company. (Sheldon Murphy)

Murphy worked for companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Pepsi-Cola before starting his own businesses.

The inventor said the defining point in his career was when he presented an idea to his boss at Pepsi-Cola about making a soda that was sugar-free and had no caffeine. His boss refuted the offer and told Murphy to not bring his religion into making new products.

Shaken by the response, Murphy left Pepsi-Cola to pursue another dream of his. He founded The Performance Management Group, Inc., a chemical engineering consulting firm.

He then started NU Innovations and has helped people with his simple inventions ever since.

Murphy said he is constantly asking himself the same question when he is working.

“I am a change artist. I always ask myself, is that is as good as we can do, or can we do better?” Murphy said.

The engineer said his motto for improvement has shaped him into the man he has become. He has won several awards and continues to make improvements long after retirement.

The Ajuda is a support for handling utensils. People who suffer from hand tremors can find use in this product. (Sheldon Murphy)

“People always ask me where I get my ideas from. My answer is someone’s need. It is the mother of invention. With BYU engineering help, we would prototype the invention, build it and sell my inventions,” Murphy said.

The most popular product that Murphy created and sells is the Guia, which allows those who use walkers to assist in steering them.

Iggy Matheson, a senior at BYU majoring in mechanical engineering, has worked personally with Murphy at NU Innovations. Matheson makes the products and manages the marketing for the small startup company. Murphy looks for students through personal networking and connections on campus. Julie Crockett helps recruits students for Murphy.

Matheson has worked for Murphy since July and has enjoyed the experience.

“The best thing about working with Murphy is the stories he shares from his life,” Matheson said.

Murphy said he looks for BYU students majoring in engineering because he believes they are supportive and understand what he wants to achieve with his inventions. He has worked with several other BYU students and expressed appreciation for their hard work.

“These students are a great help to me since I am unable to build the products myself,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he is currently working on NU wipes, a biodegradable wipe. Several large companies are interested in his work, such as Costco, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.

The inventor continues to inspire many by the amount of work he dedicates to help others. He said he will always be known for being the innovative guy.

“I love finding ways to make everyone’s lives better,” Murphy said.

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