DCU/MSB Innovation Contest | December 1, 2016

On Thursday, December 1st, Digital Federal Credit Union and the Manning School of Business hosted the annual DCU/MSB Innovation Contest. Earlier in the semester, student teams applied to the competition with an idea they had related to banking. Over a dozen teams applied and five were selected to compete and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

We had three judges for the competition: Bill Jacobson – CEO, Workbar, Jim Regan – President & CEO, DCU, and Sandra Richtermeyer – Dean, Manning School of Business.

Semifinalists competing in the DCU/MSB Innovation Contest were Finance for All with team member Nikquania Gamble, “PiggyAPP” for Kids with team member Yomar SalazarReyes, Student Financial Advising with team members Brandon Luitweiler, Joshua Masse, and Will Puduski, and Student Financial Finesse Made Easy with team members Mirkens Paul and Aaron Tam. Each team member was awarded $100.


Team PiggyApp for Kids


Team Student Financial Advising


Team Student Financial Finesse Made Easy

The winner of this year’s competition was team Digibank and their idea to help rid consumers and the environment of loose change by having leftover change from a transaction deposited directly into a bank accoutn! Team members included Channou Aing, Virath Chea, Siven Hang, Cullin Lam, and Chanmary Lau. Each team member was awarded $500!


Team Digibank


$3,100 was awarded to student teams overall! Great job to everyone who participated and congratulations to this year’s winners!

A special thank you as well to our judges!


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America East Hackathon!

Hacking for a Better World!

Hack AE was a 24-hour civic hackathon designed to bring America East undergraduate students together, to build software and hardware projects that encourage civic engagement and/or address the real-world challenges facing our neighborhoods, cities, states and country. This event was managed by Juliette Kenny, Executive Director, Academic Consortium.


This Hackathon took place from November 5-6 at Binghamton University’s Innovative Technologies Complex, located in Vestal, NY. Holly Butler, DifferenceMaker Director, joined 18 UMass Lowell students (with just 3 having been to a Hackathon before) on the exciting trip! The UMass Lowell Hackletes left Lowell, MA at 5:30am on November 5 and arrived to Binghamton just for the start of lunch, at 11:45am. The team was welcomed by Juliette, Binghamton faculty and staff, and students from across the academic consortium. At 12:30pm, the Hackathon kicked-off with introductions from Major League Hacking (MLH), Juliette, and Binghamton staff. After welcoming remarks, the hacking began!


Students immediately ran into rooms, built teams, and began brainstorming ideas. The 18 UMass Lowell students formed 5 teams, one being with 3 Binghamton students, which was great! Holly helped the teams brainstorm ideas, using the DifferenceMaker method: Problem, Opportunity, Solution, and Resources. After several hours, the teams had ideas and began hacking…all night long! The excitement and enthusiasm throughout the night was incredible.

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24 hours later, at 1:30pm on November 6th, the projects were submitted, and the judges began scoring the teams. All of the student teams, from across various AE Universities, had innovative ideas that they were passionate about. After being judged, the awards were announced.

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It was an exciting moment for UMass Lowell! Two teams won in two categories!

Project Title: Superhero

Project Description: An application that connects helping volunteers to those who may be in trouble or need help.

Prize Category: Beginner Hack Category

UMass Lowell Student Information: Sanskriti Sharma, Freshman, Computer Engineering

Team: She built a team with 3 Binghamton students


Project Title: Generation 2U

Project Description: Research proves loneliness leads to depression. Generation 2U solves this problem by connecting baby boomers & millennials through a website and phone application network.

Prize Category: Health and Wellness Category

UMass Lowell Student Information: Lesa Duval, Junior, Electrical Engineering, Andrew MacGregor, Junior, Computer Engineering, Sohit Pal, Junior, Computer Science and Krin Yongvongphaiboon, Senior, Computer Science

Team: UMass Lowell students


Prizes: Each student could choose from the following:

Echo Dot

Google Chromecast

Skullcandy Wireless Headphones

Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones

Logitech Stereo Speakers

$50 Amazon Gift Card

This was an exciting event that brought together various schools and students. UMass Lowell was happy to be a part of it, and all teams learned from the experience. UMass Lowell looks forward to future AE Hackathons and events.


To view more photos, please visit the DifferenceMaker Facebook Page, American East Hackathon photo album.

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Entrepreneurship Lunch Series | October 25, 2016

On October 25, 2016, students here at UMass Lowell had the chance to hear from 2013 Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker winner, Nonspec! Jonathan De Alderete and Erin Keaney of Nonspec spoke to students about their project and experience with the DifferenceMaker program. Nonspec was a part of the first ever DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge back in 2013 and have moved on to raise of $200,000 in their own funding after competing in the Idea Challenge.

Having the opportunity to hear from a real-life DifferenceMaker team that has had true success even after the DifferenceMaker program is a great motivation to students and we hope even more students are motivated to pursue their ideas and truly make a difference!

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Entrepreneurship Lunch Series | October 18, 2016

On Tuesday, October 18, DifferenceMaker staff Holly Butler and Ha Pho met with students in O’Leary 103 for lunch!

Students were able to speak with Holly and Ha to learn more about the DifferenceMaker program as a whole and dive into questions they may have had about entrepreneurship, innovation, and critical thinking.

Any students interested in becoming DifferenceMakers were able to learn more about the process and look forward to getting their teams together!

Thank you to everyone who attended!

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University Entrepreneurship Recognition Celebration | October 19, 2016

On Wednesday, October 19th, UMass Lowel held a unique event to recognize and celebrate the entrepreneurial initiatives on campus. Chacellor Jacqueline Moloney gave welcoming remarks to attendees. Then, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Steven Tello, introduced the various entrepreneurship programs housed right here at UMass Lowell.

Following the introduction, a student mentor panel answered general questions from DifferenceMaker Director Holly Butler and Program Manager Ha Pho, and answered several questions from the audience as well. Teams featured on the panel include eNABLE Lowell, 2016 Campus-wide DifferenceMaker, Topacan, 2016 First-to-Market winner, Veteran’s QRF, 2016 Significant Social Impaact winner, WordPro, 2016 Honorable Mention winner, and two alumni mentors, Mark Girolamo, Topacan’s mentor, and Andrew Sutherland, Veteran’s QRF’s mentor.

Rekha Paleyanda and Nancy Saucier spoke about capitalizing on the UMass Lowell entrepreneurial ecosystem. Among the mentioned organizations were Invitrometrix, Access Vascular, Inc., and Sevo Nutraceuticals, Inc.

Entrepreneurial faculty were awarded for their work and dedication to recent entrepreneurial ventures. NSF I-Corps Graduates include Associate Professor Xinwen Fu, Associate Professor Zhiyong Gu, Professor Pradeep Kurup, Professor Yan Luo, Associate Professor Xingwei Wang, and Associate Professor Hongwei Sun. Tech Venture Program Winners were Professor Pradeep Kurup and Associate Professor Joel Therrien. UMass Lowell Startup Companies that were recognized are Invitrometrix, Weave, Anterios, Radect/RayWatch, and Sevo Nutraceuticals.

Congratulations to everyone recognized for their entrepreneurial initiatives!

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Entrepreneurship Lunch Series | Paul Schor, October 11, 2016


On Tuesday, October 11 in DifferenceMaker Central, attorney Paul Schor attended DifferenceMaker’s Entrepreneurship Lunch Series as a guest speaker! During the lunch, students had the opportunity to learn more about intellectual property, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and more!

Students enjoyed salad and pizza while being challenged to think about the ways in which intellectual property affects certain circumstances in business!

Our next lunch will be on Tuesday, October 18th, from 12:00-1:00p.m. in O’Leary 103 on South Campus. Take the opportunity to stop in and meet DifferenceMaker staff, Holly Butler and Ha Pho! We hope to see you there!

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DifferenceMaker Mixer | October 12, 2016

Yesterday evening in the Makerspace on North Campus, DifferenceMaker held yet another exciting event during Entrepreneurship Month!


During this year’s Mixer, students and faculty heard from Professor Steven Tello as he introduced the DifferenceMaker program and kicked-off the evening. Following Professor Tello, a member of team eNABLE, Dan Whiting, gave a brief introduction of the Makerspace – a newer addition to the experiential learning here at UMass Lowell.

DifferenceMaker Program Manager, Ha Pho, then led an ice-breaker to help students get to know one another and foster collaboration. Faculty Fellow, John Morgan Bush then facilitated an open mic and speed pitching session where students with ideas could introduce them to the audience.

DifferenceMaker Program Director, Holly Butler, then wrapped up the event with thank-you’s to all of the attendees for their participation and willingness to help solve real-world problems!


Our next event is on Tuesday, October 18th, from 12:00-1:00p.m. in O’Leary 103 on South Campus for the Entrepreneurship Lunch Series! Join us for pizza and the opportunity to meet DifferenceMaker staff, Holly Butler and Ha Pho!

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2016 Entrepreneurship Lunch Series | Session 1, Tuesday, October 4

Yesterday, students met in DifferenceMaker Central for some pizza during the first session of the Entrepreneurship Lunch Series! From 12-1p.m., students from many different majors took advantage of the opportunity to hear from Professors Michelle Bazin and Deb Finch about non-profit organizations and their place within the entrepreneurial world.



We will be holding lunches every Tuesday in October so come join us next week on October 11 in DifferenceMaker Central – Lydon Library, Suite 012!


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DifferenceMaker LLC Event | October 3, 2016

On Monday, October 3, 2016, DifferenceMaker faculty fellow and LLC (Living-Learning Community) advisor John Brown, along with Professor Steve Tello, met with students in Bourgeois Hall for an LLC event. Students gathered in the common room of the fourth floor to enjoy pizza while learning more about the DifferenceMaker program and discuss opportunities and ideas they have.


About 15 students stopped by over the course of an hour from 6:00-7:00p.m.

To learn more about DifferenceMaker, visit our website!

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DifferenceMaker Kick Off | September 28, 2016

On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, DifferenceMaker held its Season Kickoff event College Competition announcement! Starting at 5:30 in Moloney Hall at University Crossing, students had the opportunity to hear more about the DifferenceMaker program from Professor Steve Tello.


Students also heard from professionals about each of the three college competitions coming up this semester. Chris McKenna introduced the Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition, Jim Regan spoke about the DCU/MSB Innovation Contest, and Glenn Morgan discussed the FAHSS Creative Venture Competition. Holly Butler, Director of the DifferenceMaker program, then introduced an ideation activity to engage students in entrepreneurial thinking.

At the end of the ideation session, students had the opportunity to network with members of the professional community like mentors, advisors, faculty, and alumni.


The applications for the 2016 College Competitions close on October 31.


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