Global Idea Connection

This week DifferenceMaker held its first ever Global Idea Connection! The event was held from 9:00am to 11:00am at DifferenceMaker Central. UMass Lowell students attended the event and Skyped with students from B.V. Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology (BVB) in Hubli, India.

The Idea Connection was organized by Ashwin Mehta, Lecturer at UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business, and Nitin Kulkarni, an Associate Professor in BVB’s Department of Management Studies. The two universities have a study abroad program where students from the U.S. visit Hubli and vice-versa. The Idea Connection fits hand-in-hand with the study abroad program, of which the idea is to promote a global thought process when approaching innovation and entrepreneurship.

During the Idea Connection, students were encouraged to share their entrepreneurial ideas and share with the other college where they needed help. The goal is to create global and interdisciplinary teams for a pitch contest, or for the students to team up and participate in DifferenceMaker’s 2016 Idea Challenge. Photos from the event are below.

11204445_1079632275415988_867191796489689289_n 12219327_1079632325415983_254736858628761474_n 12249855_1079632462082636_7192656568152301504_n

Share Button

Student & Alumni Mixer | October 21, 2015

On the evening of Wednesday, October 21st DifferenceMaker held its first Student and Alumni Mixer. Roughly 130 people were in attendance, including about 50 students, and about 80 faculty, staff, and alumni. The event was a way for alumni who fund the program, serve as mentors to student teams, and who have interest in the program to meet and network with students and DifferenceMaker teams.


The evening began with networking and continued with a student panel and an alumni panel. Student teams, Biobubbler, Love of the Game, and Nonspec, answered questions about their experience with the DifferenceMaker program and the current status of their projects. Afterward, alumni took the stage sharing their insight on the success of the program.


Rachel Paquette from DifferenceMaker Team Biobubbler.

The night concluded with the keynote speaker, Ron Insana. Insana is an Analyst and Commentator at CNBC. He enlightened the crowd with his input on the United States’ current economic status and some input on the business world.


Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurhip and Economic Development, and Ron Insana, Senior Analyst and Commentator at CNBC.

Thank you to everyone who attended and to everyone who made the event such a success! To view all of the photos from the event, click here.

Share Button

Love of the Game Expanding on Campus


Love of the Game won the Significant Social Impact category in our 2015 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge and was awarded $4,000. Team members include Jessica Dion (Exercise Physiology, class of 2016), Lucas Parsons (Exercise Physiology, class of 2016), Jennifer Pisarik (Exercise Physiology, class of 2017), Marissa Richards (Psychology, Class of 2018), Tyler Richards (Psychology, class of 2018), Rachel Silk (Junior, Business Marketing and Entrepreneurship, class of 2016), Matthew Short (Exercise Physiology, class of 2019), and Daniel Schmith (Freshman, Business Finance and Entrepreneurship, class of 2018).

Since winning in the Idea Challenge, this team has been hard at work at DifferenceMaker Central and the community to reach their goal of becoming a nonprofit organization that partners with local universities to teach sports to individuals with developmental disabilities. Since winning funding in the Idea Challenge, they have expanded their team and developed a presence on campus, planned and held their first event, pitched at Convocation and won $1,000, connected with local schools and similar nonprofits, and are currently working on establishing a Love of the Game club on the UML campus. They have also been fortunate enough to connect with a mentor, Tammy Concannon who works at Corporate Technologies and has helped the team develop their finances and operations.

The group held their first event on Sunday October 18th at the UMass Lowell Campus Recreation Center on East Campus. Roughly 15 local students with developmental disabilities attended the event and the UMass Lowell Men’s Varsity Basketball team led them through basketball training. The event was educational, fun, and rewarding for all in attendance. Love of the Game plans to expand their presence on campus to hold several events a semester while they apply to become a nonprofit organization. Below are photos from their first event.

10501716_1067933213252561_8179284862764456464_n  12143298_1067933203252562_6874722567938668556_n


You can learn more about Love of the Game by watching this video from the Lowell Sun. If you want to help Love of the Game reach their monetary goals, you can donate through Hawk Hatch by clicking here. Anything helps! 

If you want help the team by volunteering or mentoring, you can email them at

Share Button

Container Park Demonstrates Innovative Retail Possibilities

Hi DifferenceMakers – Several Faculty Fellows just returned from the Pathways to Innovation Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  While our hosts from Venture Well made sure to keep us busy in Strategic Doing sessions, we did have a chance to visit an innovative retail center built from used trucking containers – yes, those ugly steel boxes stacked up in seaports and shipped cross-country by truck. But Container Park, located in the downtown Fremont district, really brings new life to the containers and to the district.

Entrance to Container Park

Entrance to Container Park in Las Vegas, Fremont District.

Container Park hosts a number of retail shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as a very fun climbing structure/tower to keep children and parents quite busy.

Container Park Shops

List of shops on the second and third floors of Container Park.

The containers are stacked up to three high and there is an elevator (built in containers of course) and stairways.

Container Park Elevator

Three stories of container retail are serviced by an elevator (hidden in a clock tower) and stairs.

In the center of Container Park is a wheelchair accessible, climbing structure for children and parents.

Climbing structure for kids and parents.

Climbing structure for kids and parents.

The park is part of the revitalization of the downtown Vegas area, an area that has weathered some challenges as the massive development of the Vegas Strip has drawn tourists and resources ways from the downtown area. When we visited Container Park in the middle of a Saturday, it was quite busy, with tourists and locals shopping and enjoying the day.

IMG_0898 IMG_0891

Share Button

Fall 2015 Kick Off Event

Last week on Wednesday, September 30th we kicked of the entrepreneurship calendar for the fall 2015 semester! We held our Fall 2015 Kick Off event in the Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center Atrium on North Campus. Roughly 100 people, ranging from students, faculty, staff, and alumni, attended the event which took place from 6:00pm to 8:30pm.


DifferenceMaker Co-op employees, Thalia and Paul, welcoming guests to the Saab ETIC Atrium.

Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development and DifferenceMaker Founder, started the event by introducing the program’s mission. Following his introduction were three representatives from each of the three DifferenceMaker College Competitions. Stephen Johnston, Assistant Professor of Plastics Engineering and DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow, introduced the Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition. Next, Glenn Morgan, Co-owner of SkyWorld Interactive and member of the UMass Lowell class of 1986, announced the Fine Arts Humanities and Social Sciences’ Creative Venture Competition. Lastly, Scott Latham, Acting Dean and Associate Professor of the Manning School of Business, announced the Digital Federal Credit Union Innovation Contest.


Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development and DifferenceMaker Founder, welcoming attendees.

Following the College Competitions announcement, Holly Butler, the DifferenceMaker Program Director, led a brainstorming activity where students had the opportunity to brainstorm solutions to big problems surrounding topics such as banking, social responsibility, healthcare, and more. Students had the opportunity to network and meet potential team members and mentors.


Student attendees brainstorming about solutions to problems regarding social responsibility.

To view photos from the event, click here. To view a full list of DifferenceMaker events this semester, click here. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Fall 2015 Kick Off event. We look forward to seeing more of you this semester!


Share Button

Health Sciences & Engineering Mixer

On Monday, September 28th we held our first ever Health Sciences & Engineering Mixer. The College of Health Sciences and The College of Engineering partnered for this event where honors students were invited to participate in a DifferenceMaker ideation activity with staff and faculty fellows.


Tom O’Donnell, Management and Entrepreneurship Professor and Director of UML’s new Innovation Hub, working with student teams.

Students formed groups and used Tinker Toys to create a model vehicle to transport sick patients for miles on rough terrain to the nearest hospital in a hypothetical situation. Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurhip and Economic Development and Founder of the DifferenceMaker Program, tested the vehicles on a steep ramp around the room and building.

The goal for the event was to educate students from the two colleges about the DifferenceMaker Program, problem solving, and about the advantage of forming an interdisciplinary team for entrepreneurial ventures. To learn about our other fall 2015 events, please click here. To view photos from the Mixer, you can click here.



Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurhip and Economic Development and Founder of the DifferenceMaker Program, testing out student teams’ model vehicles.


Share Button

Reebok’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at UMass Lowell


Kathleen Tullie, the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Reebok is coming to UMass Lowell! She is giving a talk on socially responsible brands this Thursday, September 17th at 11:00am in O’Leary 222. This event will serve as a terrific opportunity for students to learn from a member of Reebok’s leadership team while also learning about social responsibility among businesses and corporations. All students are welcome to attend!!

Share Button

Demo Day 2015

Last night, DifferenceMaker® held its first, ever Demo Day at UMass Lowell’s newest addition, the Innovation Hub on Canal Street downtown Lowell. Demo Day was the final part of a four-week boot camp in which several of our 2015 Idea Challenge finalist teams participated. During the boot camp, teams delved more into their business plan and reached out to potential customers in the community to learn more about opportunities and solutions surrounding their idea. The goal of the boot camp was to accelerate finalist teams’ progress in developing their ventures.


DifferenceMaker Co-op student, Paul, welcomed guests into the Innovation Hub for the event.

Demo Day, which took place last night, was an opportunity for the teams that participated in the boot camp, along with other finalist teams, to showcase their progress and to connect with mentors. Attendees included Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship and Economic, Jacqueline Moloney, Executive Vice Chancellor, UMass Lowell alumni, and local business professionals and owners.


Dan and Jennie shared their DM project, Love of the Game, which is a nonprofit program where students with cognitive disabilities have the opportunity to play sports at UML facilities and with UML equipment, with the help of UML athletes.


Anthony and Mark share their DM project, Playable Therapy, which is a product where participants can complete their physical therapy routines through a video game that tracks their movement for the use of their doctor.

The event included brief presentation by the six teams in attendance, a question and answer session for each team, a poster session where attendees could learn more about the teams, and a networking portion where alumni and local business professionals connected with the teams to potentially mentor them.

To learn more about the DM Mentor Program or to get involved, click here.

Share Button

Global Innovation & Entrepreneurship Summer 2015

All students

All of the students, faculty, and staff who participated in the immersion program.

Students from India, Thailand, China, Japan, and Guyana just visited UMass Lowell to take part in a two-week immersion experience with UMass Lowell students, faculty, staff, and even some of our DifferenceMaker teams. The students took part in an accelerated course called Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Manning School of Business taught by Ashwin Mehta and Deborah Finch

The immersion experience focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, which fits right in with DifferenceMaker’s goal of helping students think innovatively in everyday life. Holly Butler, the director of the DifferenceMaker program, led a two-hour session on innovation and creativity last Thursday, June 18th. She spent time lecturing on the definition of each topic and differentiating the two.


A team, including a DifferenceMaker winning team (Playable Therapy), preparing their car model.

Afterward, the students spent about 45 minutes building a model of a car that could withstand a hypothetical situation of dirt roads and rough travel in order to bring residents of a rural town to a hospital far away. The students were given tinker toys and had to find team members with other tinker toys in order to create an innovative vehicle.

After teams made a model of the innovative vehicle with the tinker toys, they were asked to explain their vehicle in front of the class and test it by rolling it down a steep board of wood meant to mimic the rough terrain. The teams succeeded in matching their creativity and innovative skills to make functional and unique vehicles that all passed the test!

You can check out videos of the teams’ innovative cars by clicking here!


Holly, Director of the DifferenceMaker program, with some of the international students.

Share Button

Learning from Others!


This gallery contains 5 photos.

Hi DifferenceMakers – I had the chance to visit the Raleigh Durham, N. Carolina area recently.  15 years ago Durham was a somewhat rundown, ailing ex-tobacco community.  Over the past few years they have revitalized their downtown spaces, using  a … Continue reading

Share Button