Registration Deadlines Nearing for Fall Competitions


Student Entrepreneurs, Inventors & DifferenceMakers! Don’t miss the registration deadlines for three exciting College–based Innovation Competitions underway this fall! Below are the Competitions:

Digital Federal Credit Union Innovation Contest | Sponsored in collaboration with the Manning School of Business and DifferenceMaker – top prize of $500 per team member (register by Oct. 24).

Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition | $1,000 first place team award (register by Oct. 24).

Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Creative Venture Competition | $5,000 first place team award (register by Oct. 31).

Application and registration details for each competition are available on the DifferenceMaker College Competitions page. If you have questions please contact, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @DifferenceMakerUML. Also, feel free to stop by DifferenceMaker Central at Lydon Library on North Campus (next to Starbucks).

Entrepreneurial Speaker Series: Tech Start-ups

Last night, DifferenceMaker kicked off its Entrepreneurial Speaker Series. The topic for discussion was Tech Start-ups. Steven Tello, the Associate Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development and founder of the DifferenceMaker Program introduced the event. Following his introduction, Steven Geyster, Vice President of ESTECH,and Daniel Sullivan, Faculty of College of Engineering, spoke about the challenges and lessons of being involved in tech start ups.


Above is a photo of the speakers, Steven Geyster (left) and Professor Daniel Sullivan (right).

Geyster said that there are four “keys to success” for starting a new business, as listed below.

1)   Protect Your Work: In order to make sure that you aren’t building a business based on something that is already invented, and to make sure that no one can copy your work, you need to research patents and find a way to protect your invention/s. Entrepreneurs can protect their work and intellectual property through Trademark Protection, Patent Protection, and/or Trade Secrets.

2)   Build a Team & Network: Building a team and network is crucial. Geyster credits much of success to networking at events and in his daily life. Also, a crucial part of building a team, Geyster emphasized, is seeking help from a financial advisor that has experience and has some “skin in the game”.

3)   Plan & Plan Some More: Geyster says that as a rule of thumb, everything takes twice as long as you expect, and costs three times more than you initially estimated. He also says that if you want to meet your goals and expectations, you need to have a plan to direct you. Finally, he suggests that entrepreneurs learn practical skills such as accounting, project management, and quality management to help them reach their goals.

4)   Have a Customer Focus: You may have a good idea, but do you know who will pay money for it? Geyster emphasized that getting feedback from as many people as possible is important to improving your product before officially putting it on the market. He also mentioned that ease of use is vital. It doesn’t matter how great your product is; if customers cannot use it easily, they won’t continue to use or purchase it.

Professor Daniel Sullivan concluded the evening by saying that it takes more than just a good product to succeed as an entrepreneur. He told the audience that you need everything from a set of morals and beliefs for your company, to brand development and knowledge of your market.


Above is a photo of engineering students who attended the event.

To see photos from the event, and to stay in tune with future DifferenceMaker events, connect with us via email at differencemaker@uml.eduFacebookTwitter, or Instagram @differencemakeruml.

Press Release | Entrepreneurship Month Kicks off at UMass Lowell

DifferenceMaker Program awards startup funds to students for best new ideas

October is Entrepreneurship Month at UMass Lowell, when students will learn entrepreneurial skills from business professionals, faculty mentors and alumni and put their ideas to the test in a variety of competitions.

Students will be introduced to the DifferenceMaker Program at an event on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. Now in its third year, the initiative challenges them to work in teams to develop a product or service that answers a real-world need in business or the community. Teams then pitch their ideas to expert judges, vying for seed money for their ventures. Last year, 70 teams participated in these contests.

Event speakers are expected to include Glenn Morgan ’86, co-owner of SkyWorld Interactive; David Araujo, vice president of Information Systems for DCU; the program’s founder, Steven Tello, UMass Lowell’s associate vice chancellor for entrepreneurship and economic development; and student winners of previous DifferenceMaker competitions. The event will be held in the Perry Atrium of the university’s Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center on North Campus at 40 University Ave., Lowell.

In the coming weeks, teams will gain inspiration from the DifferenceMaker Entrepreneurial Speaker Series, which will explore a variety of topics from intellectual property to venture funding. It will begin on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. with a session on how to launch startups in engineering fields.

Beginning this month, student teams may enter one of three semester-long competitions that align with their interests. The final rounds of these contests will be held in December. They are:

  • The DCU Innovation Contest, for students who have developed innovative ideas in banking and finance. Last year’s winners took home $1,500 for their idea to develop a hybrid credit and debit card that allows users to build credit without banks assuming risk. The contest is presented by UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business and DCU.
  • The Creative Venture Competition, for students who have developed products, programs or business ventures that provide a social service. Last year, the contest awarded $2,500 to the student whose idea for a web platform called DreamLink. The contest is presented by UMass Lowell’s College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • The UMass Lowell Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition, a new contest this year that seeks the best prototypes for electrical and mechanical devices, software applications or integrated systems.

In December, students will also have a chance to enter the 2015 DifferenceMaker $35,000 Idea Challenge, which will award cash prizes for winning ideas in a variety of categories during the spring semester.



Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or

Season Kickoff | October 9, 2014


October is Entrepreneurship Month at UMass Lowell & the DifferenceMaker Program is celebrating with our Season Kickoff Event! We invite current DifferenceMakers, prospective students, friends, alumni, faculty, and staff to join us on October 9th at the Saab Emerging Technology and Innovation Center on North Campus from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Below is a list of activities that will take place during the event.

  • Student teams will showcase their posters
  • Networking will take place between students, alumni, faculty and staff
  • The UMass Lowell Mentor Program will be launched
  • Three college competitions (Manning School of Business, Francis College of Engineering and Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) will be announced
  • Winning DifferenceMaker student teams; Nonspec, Bright Future Generation, and Support our Students, will discuss their successes since winning funding from the 2013 and 2014 Idea Challenge events
  • Refreshments will be served
  • And MUCH more!

We look forward to seeing YOU there! For more information, connect with us via email at, FacebookTwitter, or Instagram @differencemakeruml.

Young Professionals of Greater Lowell | Chester Elton

“How can I get my people to be just as passionate as I am?” If every manager actively tried to think this way, the world would be a much different place. Chester Elton, a motivational speaker and author, writes and speaks about how to promote a strong and positive culture in the workplace through thought processes like this one.

DifferenceMaker LLC students were fortunate enough to attend last night’s Young Professionals of Lowell event that featured Elton as the keynote speaker. Elton inspired students and other audience members by engaging them with interactive prompts and questions with rewards such as carrot stuffed animals, wristbands, and a copy of his new book, All In. Elton explained to the crowd how being active in creating a thoughtful, positive, and fun environment in the workplace can make a difference to the overall happiness and productivity of employees.

The most inspiring aspect of Elton’s presentation was how clear it was that he applies these theories and beliefs toward his own life. Upon doing so, Elton’s success in his professional and personal life is due largely to his positive mental attitude and the supportive culture he creates amongst himself and his network of friends, family, coworkers, etc. He is living proof that attitude toward yourself and those around you truly makes a difference in quality of life, the culture of the workplace, and the likelihood of reaching goals and maintaining success.


Here, Elton posed with DifferenceMaker LLC students, MSB LLC students, and Honors LLC students at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

To see photos from the event, and to stay in tune with future DifferenceMaker events, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @DifferenceMakerUML.

DifferenceMaker LLC Event | September 24, 2014


Last night the second DifferenceMaker LLC event was held on the third floor of Fox Hall. DifferenceMaker LLC students, faculty, and team, Hive, met to discuss how to get involved in the Program, and the benefits of doing so.

Hive, previously named Notoja, was the team that presented at the event. The team created a school enrichment collaboration application, which provides modules for student note-taking, book trading, and discussion groups. They won second place in Innovative Technology at the 2013 Idea Challenge.

Hive presented their pitch to the LLC students and explained how the DifferenceMaker Program has helped them reach their goals as entrepreneurs. They then left room for questions and discussion. Many of the questions that followed were from the LLC students who were wondering how challenging being a DifferenceMaker is. They asked about time commitment, idea generation, team building, and potential for success.

Overall, both Hive and the LLC students benefited from the evening through networking and the in depth discussion of the Program.

Tonight is the next DifferenceMaker LLC event at the 9th Annual Business Leadership Forum hosted by the Young Professionals of Greater Lowell. The event will take place at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium from 5:30 to 8:00pm. The keynote speaker for the event is Chester Elton who is an author, motivational speaker, trainer, and employee engagement expert. To learn more about the event contact Project Manager, Ha Pho at or connect with us through social media, as listed below.

To see photos from the event, and to stay in tune with future DifferenceMaker events, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @DifferenceMakerUML.

DifferenceMaker LLC Event | September 10, 2014

Classes, work, friends, family, homework, clubs… Welcome to college! College is the place where the list of to-do’s never ends, and you are always pulled in multiple directions.

The DifferenceMaker Team understands that. We want to welcome the UMass Lowell Class of 2018 to the DifferenceMaker Program with open arms. Our team recognizes that you are new to college and that there is a world of opportunity ahead of you. We want to share with you the opportunities that the Program has to offer, while at the same time, allowing you to decide your direction over the next four years.

As an introduction to the DifferenceMaker Program, we held an event last night to welcome DifferenceMaker LLC students to UMass Lowell. Students met on the third floor of Fox Hall where they chatted with members of the DifferenceMaker Team about themselves, their experiences, and their views on leadership and what “success” means to them.

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UMass Lowell Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Designation


IEP Designation jpeg

The University of Massachusetts Lowell has been designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and its Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP).

The APLU Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities program recognizes institutions for exemplary, innovative, and sustainable efforts in economic engagement by those who have received the IEP University designation. The designation identifies institutions working to advance the engagement and economic well-being of their states, regions, and the nation through a variety of efforts. Designees have worked through an intensive process of institutional self-study and engagement with stakeholders to identify the strengths of the university’s economic engagement enterprise as well as areas for growth and improvement.

Learn more about APLU:

Press Release-Nonspec wins 1st Place at ASME Innovation Showcase in Washington DC

Congratulations to the 2013 Campus Wide DifferenceMaker team, Nonspec. On Monday, April 28, 2014 they competed against 9 other teams in the ASME IShow at The Newseum in Washington DC. Nonspec was awarded the 1st place prize of $25,000!!! Congratulations to Nonspec on making a difference through their hard work, dedication, innovative product idea and success.

The ASME IShow is meant to inspire students to be product innovators and entrepreneurs. It provides a platform for top collegiate teams to compete for seed funding in order to further the development of their product and business. Teams must display technical creativity and prove that they have a sustainable business model to a judging panel of successful innovators, industry experts, venture capitalists, and intellectual property specialists.

Nonspec produces low cost expandable and adjusting prosthetic limbs for children in developing nations.  Their technology is currently patent pending. Nonspec applied to the ASME IShow in February and became a top ten finalist. Yesterday they achieved 1st place in this rigorous IShow competition.

In one short year (since winning the $5,000 award at the 1st Annual DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge on April 15, 2013) Nonspec has achieved the following awards:

  • Campus Wide DifferenceMaker Award, $5,000
  • 2nd Place at Commencement Pitch, $1,000
  • Top 10 College Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine
  • IAPD Plastics Application Design Award, $1,000 (but taking PR instead of $)
  • Moo Grand Prix Small Business Award, $11,000 plus $1,000 for materials
  • NCIIA E-Team Grant Stage 1, $5,000
  • Design News Engineer to Watch 2014, Jonathan de Alderete
  • ASME top ten for the Innovation Showcase
  • AME IShow 1st Place Award, $25,000

To stay up to date on the DifferenceMaker Program and its creative teams please follow DMs on twitter @Difference_UML and visit

Press Release – 2nd Annual DifferenceMaker™ Idea Challenge: April 15, 2014

The 2nd Annual DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge was held on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. The poster reception took place from 5–6 p.m. with the pitch competition & awards from 6–9 p.m. This event was held in the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, Atrium on North Campus. 42 teams pitched in the Preliminary Pitch-Off Event on April 4th and the 13 teams who made it through were featured at this 2nd Annual DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge.

The evening began with poster presentations by the 13 finalist teams, as well as student teams who participated in the Preliminary Pitch-Off and wanted a chance to win a “Fan Favorite” prize. The 13 finalist teams then presented a series of 5 minute rocket pitches to a panel of 8 alumni judges for a chance to share in $35,000 in prizes. These entrepreneurial UMass student teams competed and shared their ventures and all received a portion of the $35,000 to help further their projects. This event attracted over 135 students, alumni, faculty, staff, community members and entrepreneurs.

We would like to thank all of the judges for helping make this event a great success:

 Final Judges-April 15, 2014

Jim Regan
John Pulichino
Mark Forziati
Jack Wilson
Mike Morin
Don LaTorre
Tricia Keefe
Amy Hoey

We would like to thank our sponsors for helping us make a difference: 

  • Digital Credit Union-Corporate Sponsor
  • Joseph C. Day Chancellor’s Fund for Institutional Priorities
  • Joseph P. Donahue Charitable Foundation
  • Mitchell Kertzman Endowed Discretionary Fund
  • Francis L. McKone Chancellor’s Discretionary Endowment Fund
  • Pernick Chancellor’s Endowed Discretionary Fund
  • Spinola Angel Investment Fund for Entrepreneurship
  • Jack Wilson Endowed Presidential Entrepreneurship Award Fund

Congratulations to the 2014 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge $35K Winners!!!

Project Title


Team Members and Hometowns

SOS: Support Our Students: This Campus Community Shop at UMass Lowell would be a centrally located resource for students of low-income or those in need of assistance. It would also serve as a resource center for community engagement, for credit service placements and volunteer opportunities in the area. Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker$7,000 Teresa Shroll, Graduate, Community Social PsychologySadie Prickett, Graduate, Community Social Psychology

Mary Tauras, Graduate, Community Social Psychology

Xavier Guay, Junior, Computer Science

Anna Henson, Freshman, Marketing

Chandana Penukonda, Senior, Finance

BioBubbler: The BioBubbler is made from indigenous material and does not require chemicals or electricity to use. It is a slow sand filtration system that eliminates bacteria in water by absorption, predation, natural death, and oxygen depletion. Significant Social Impact1st Place$4,000 Rachel Paquette, Senior, Biology

Nawal Khan, Junior, Marketing and Management

Nerdonyx: Nerdonyx is a place where theory meets application. This team is helping to encourage anyone who wants to be an engineer or scientist to pursue their dream. Significant Social Impact2nd Place$2,000 Ryan Hart, Senior, Electrical Engineering

Shiv Sharma, Ph.D., Electrical Engineering

Kyle Vigeant, Senior, Electrical Engineering

Timothy Pflanz,  Senior, Electrical Engineering

Anupama Purohit, Graduate, MBA

Kyle Homan, Senior, Electrical Engineering

Albert Andino-Aponte, Senior, Electrical Engineering

Termagen®/TermaGreen: Termagen is our waste heat recovery solutions company that has innovated the heat recovery mechanism known as the organ rankine cycle. We have innovated the design of this machine to make a significant difference in its operations. Contribution to a Sustainable Environment1st Place$4,000 Gregory Bohenko, Senior, Business

Aaron Stafford, Senior, Business

Alexander Martinez, Freshman, Business, Economics and Mathematics

OTTOnomous Technology:  OTTOnomous Technology is a novel soltuion for replacing camshsfts in car engines with electro-mechanical actuators. Innovative Technology Solution1st Place$4,000 Erik Christiansen, Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Victor Maldonado, Senior, Accounting and Global Business

Jeremy Dorson, Senior, Electrical Engineering

Fresh Beets: Fresh Beets is a food truck and music venue that unites three discrete areas that the Greater Lowell community values highly into one vehicle of change. By combining food, music and education, Fresh Beets will turn any street corner, stake park, festival, or parking lot in Lowell into a total experience which feeds the mind, body and soul. First to Market1st Place$4,000 Savannah Marshall, Graduate, Community Music
Treehouse: Treehouse is a website & phone application that connects friends with plans, events, and small businesses nearby. First to Market2nd Place$2,000—Tied with ZHOOM James Abdallah, Senior, Finance and Marketing
ZHOOM: ZHOOM is a mobile application that improves the dining experience and service in restaurants. The features of ZHOOM include an online menu, mobile ordering functionality and payment system and customer reviews. First to Market2nd Place$2,000—Tied with Treehouse Chuen Hong Lau, Graduate, Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship

Wai Yuen Tang, Junior, Electrical Engineering

Dan Coughlin, Graduate, MBA

Darin Eidens, Graduate, Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship

TutorTrack: TutorTrack is a mobile application that makes it easy for tutors to track, add, and edit their time slots and for students to subscribe a book a time slot. Honorable Mention$1,000 Madhumathi Prakash, Sophomore, Computer Science

Virinchi Balabhadrapatruni, Sophomore, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Disha Amin, Junior, Computer Science

iHand: The iHand is a concept integrating retinal scanning technology into a full arm, shoulder to fingertips, prosthetic. Honorable Mention$1,000 James Whiting, Freshman, Mechanical Engineering

Zihao Gao, Freshman, Chemical Engineering

Chat UML: Chat UML, a non-profit, will reach those in need of emotional help through a dedicated website where participants will chat with a Chat UML volunteer about what ever issue they feel a need to. We hope to assist people before their situation escalates and becomes a crisis. Honorable Mention$1,000 Brittany Morris, Freshman, Psychology

Kiara Cole, Sophomore, Business

Jon Madden, Senior, Computer Science

Lauren Jendrock, Freshman, Psychology

Peter Potash, Ph.D., Computer Science

Prevention’s Possible: The mission of this project is to use creative mediums and personal experience to reach today’s youth with the expectation that WE CAN prevent tragic outcomes! Honorable Mention$1,000 Matthew Clarke, Senior, Liberal Arts

Nick Pedini, Freshman, Sociology/Legal Studies

S.imulated A.ction T.esting: A gaming option for S.A.T. testing for students who have testing anxiety. Honorable Mention$1,000 Niki Roberge, Senior, English

Amalfi Reyes, Senior, English

Kaylen Harris, Junior, English

Lisa Jackson, Junior, Peace and Conflict Studies

Mr. Meds: Mr. Meds is a mobile robot used in a hospital pharmacy for medication organization, scheduling, and distribution Fan Favorite$1,000 Philip Colangelo, Graduate, Computer Science

Bryan Nguon, Junior, Computer Engineering

Curtis Quintal, Senior, Computer Science

Vikas Subramani, Graduate, Computer Engineering

Gianni Falzone, Graduate, Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship

Please visit to learn more!