2017 Idea Challenge Winners

On Wednesday, April 19th, the 2017 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge event was held in Moloney Hall at University Crossing. 10 Finalist teams pitched to a panel of judges to compete for $50,000 and many semifinalist teams presented to attendees about their projects in competition for the Fan Favorite award. Thank you to the sponsors, participants, and guests! A special thank you to Chancellor Moloney for supporting the DifferenceMaker program and all of its teams!

Campus Wide DifferenceMaker

Operation250 – $6000: An online platform focused on educating both young adolescents and parents/educators on how to prevent online radical extremist recruitment.

Tyler Cote, Senior, Political Science and Criminal Justice
Jaime Keenan, Junior, Criminal Justice
Jonas Pierribia, Senior, Criminal Justice
Nicollete SanClemente, Sophomore, International Business
Danielle Thibodeau, Senior, Criminal Justice and Psychology

Significant Social Impact

Guardian – $4500: A sensor platform that attaches to commercially available drones for use in search and rescue operations.

Julie Pham, Senior, Business
Yomar Salazar, Senior, Business
Austin Stevens, Junior, Electrical Engineering
Kyle Stuart, Senior, Electrical Engineering

Contribution to a Healthier Lifestyle

QBell– $4500: A mobile app nursing call bell system allows patients to request nurse assistance, and nurses to manage and prioritize lists of requests through mobile/tablet devices.

Jeremy Arzuaga, Graduate, Computer Science
Vivien Chow, Graduate, Computer Science
Theresa Fullerton, Senior, Nursing
Gao Gao, Graduate, Computer Science
Andriana Kanellos, Senior, Nursing
Renee Vigneault, Senior, Nursing
Stephany Wilson, Senior, Nursing

Innovative Technology Solution

Project Starfish – $4500: A non-invasive and cost-effective prosthetic hand using a combination of cutting edge technology including 3D printing and advanced machine learning software.

Roma Aurora, Junior, Marketing
Gregory Dorian, Junior, Mechanical Engineering
Christopher Johnson, Junior, Accounting
Travis Kessler, Junior, Computer Engineering
Maxwell Roy, Junior, Electrical Engineering
First to Market

Breezy – $4500: A real-time air quality monitoring device which can be tracked with phone or online.

Anne Faber, Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Honorable Mention

Bioprinting with Multimedia Curriculum – $2000: A cost effective 3D bioprinter with multimedia curriculum and optional homework module for early STEM education in high schools.

Siddhant Iyer, Freshman, Chemical Engineering
Venkatesh Manikantan, Junior, Electrical Engineering
Bala-Ji Sathyamoothy, Graduate, Robotic and Computer Engineering
Vaishnavi Srinivasan, Junior, Biotechnology
Stephanie Stroll, Junior, Biotechnology

Clot Catch – $2000: A new designed clot filter to eliminate the risks of current filters such as shifting, vessel puncture and strut fracture.

Alexander Anthony, Senior, Plastics Engineering
Terry Fox-Koor, Junior, Plastic Engineering
Elena Mottola, Junior, Nursing

Cyborg – $2000: A hybrid musical instrument, designed to transform any object into a touch sensitive musical instrument.

Jishnu Menon Asokakumar, Graduate, Computer Engineering
Ram Das, Graduate, MSITE Adam Ferguson, Graduate, Sound Recording Technology
ChandraSekhar Kolli, Junior, Mechanical Engineering
Dhiren Rathod, Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Digibank– $2000: A digital financial transaction system that allows consumers to directly deposit change obtained from cash transactions at retailer point of sale system into a designated account via an issued card and/or mobile app..

Siven Hang, Junior, Business
Cullin Lam, Alumni, Computer Science and Biology
Bun Soth, Alumni, Computer Science
Kody Thach, Sophomore, Computer Science
Daniel Uk, Senior, Political Science

Spread The Love – $2000: A website for lesson plans that would be given to schools with 50% or more students with free or reduced lunch.

Julie Bornstein, Junior, Accounting
Autumn Sacramone, Senior, History

Fan Favorite

UML Green Roofs – $1000: A program to implement safe and ecologically friendly outdoor study spaces into UMass Lowell’s campus by designing and building green roofs for buildings such as libraries and dorms.

Rachel Papazian, Freshman, Biology
Mike River, Freshman, Biology
Meagan Timmins, Freshman, History
Kierra Walsh, Freshman, Biology

Also, a special thank you to all of our judges!

-Mark Boden, Boston Scientific
-Mary Burns, Splash Media Group Boston, LLC
-Jon Geanakos, Capital Markets, Americas JLL
-Don LaTorre, L & G Management Consultants Inc.
-Joseph Lerner, Cycle Power Partners
-Taniya Nayak, Taniya Nayak Design LLC
-John Pulichino, Group III International Ltd.

And a thank you to our sponsors!

Jim Dandeneau
Joseph C. Day Chancellor’s Fund
Digital Federal Credit Union
Foley and Lardner LLP, Corporate Sponsor
Joseph P. Donahue Charitable Foundation
Nancy L. Donahue Endowed Fellowship in Values & Ethics
Enterprise Bank
Mitchell Kertzman Endowed Discretionary Fund
Robert J. Manning Endowment Fund (Robert and Donna Manning)
Francis L. McKone Chancellor’s Discretionary Endowment Fund
Glenn Morgan, Class of 1986, FAHSS
Pernick Chancellor’s Endowed Discretionary Fund
James Regan, Class of 1988, Manning School of Business
Spinola Angel Investment Fund for Entrepreneurship
Jack Wilson Endowed Presidential Entrepreneurship Award Fund

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2017 Idea Challenge Preliminary Pitch-Off | Wednesday, April 5th

On Wednesday, April 5th at 2:00p.m., 29 student teams began pitching their ideas to several panels of alumni judges. Of the 29 teams, ten became 2017 Idea Challenge finalists, who will compete for $50,000 on April 19th.

Congratulations to our ten finalist teams, Bioprinting with Multimedia Curriculum, Breezy, Cyborg, Digibank, Guardian, IVC Cloth Filter, Operation 250, Project Starfish, Qbell, Spread The Love! Also thank you to all the teams who competed in the preliminary pitch off!

A huge thank you to the alumni judges – David Ameen, Gino Baroni, Janet Benvenuti, Ron Boudreau, Wayne Coll, Cindy Conde, Kerry Costello, Laura Deming, Matthew Donahue, John Dowling, Bob Dudley, Josh Entner, Steve Geyster, Michele Holland, Patricia Karl, Wendy LaBate, Jay Lang, Richard Lynch, Brenda Maille, Joanne Mavroides, Chris McKenna, Jeff Mead, Glenn Morgan, John Norden, Ed Roberts, Steve Schultz, Andrew Sutherland, Jack Swartz, Ira Turner, Joseph Vaillancourt, Bill Yelle.

And thank you to our guest speaker, Dave Heller, Owner of the Lowell Spinners!

Please join us again on April 19th in University Crossing, Moloney Hall, at 5:00p.m. to watch and support the 10 finalist teams as they pitch for $50,000!

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Workshop 4: Delivering Your Rocket Pitch

Our last workshop of the 2017 series, Delivering Your Rocket Pitch, was held this past Wednesday, March 1st from 5:30-7:30p.m. in Lydon Library, Room 110 on North Campus. Holly Butler, Director of the DifferenceMaker Program, introduced Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor Entrepreneurship & Economic Developement, as the guest speaker for the evening. While students enjoyed the potato bar, Professor Tello lead student through exercises on how to deliver their Rocket Pitch. After demonstrating a sample rocket pitch, students were given a chance to deliver their own, as well as asking any more questions on how to improve their DifferenceMaker projects!

Thank you Professor Steven Tello for attending the workshop!

And don’t forget to attend the $50K Idea Challenge this Spring to hear your fellow students’ DifferenceMaker Projects!

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Workshop 3: Developing Business Models

Our third workshop of the 2017 series, Developing Business Models, was held this past Monday, February 27th from 5:30-7:30p.m. in Lydon Library, Room 110 on North Campus. Tom O’Donnell, Director of the Innovation Hub in downtown Lowell, was the guest speaker for the evening. While students enjoyed refreshments, Tom lead student through exercises on how to develop their business models and their value chains. Tom also discussed his knowledge nonprofit companies and intellectual property with the students.

Thank you Tom O’Donnell for speaking at the event!

Please attend the last workshop “Delivering your Rocket Pitch” this Wednesday March 1st!

Food and drinks will be served!

All workshops are held in the Lydon Library, Room 110 on North Campus, from 5:30-7:30p.m.

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Workshop 2: Assessing Opportunities and Value Proposition

The second workshop of the 2017 series, Assessing Opportunities and Value Proposition, was held on Wednesday, February 22nd from 5:30 to 7:30p.m. in Lydon Library, Room 110 on North Campus. Ha Pho, Project Manager at the DifferenceMaker Program, led the discussion about how students can continue to advance their DifferenceMaker projects. During the workshop, while they enjoyed food and beverages, students worked in their teams to explore the opportunities associated with their projects and with their project’s value proposition.

Please attend the last two workshops! Food and drinks will be served!

February 27th – Workshop 3: Developing Your Business Models

March 1st – Workshop 4: Delivering Your Rocket Pitch

All workshops are held in the Lydon Library, Room 110 on North Campus, from 5:30-7:30p.m.

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Workshop 1: Identifying Problems

The first workshop of the 2017 series, Identifying Problems, was held on Wednesday, February 15th from 5:30-7:30p.m. in Lydon Library on North Campus. Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Director, led the discussion in helping students identify the problems that they were interested in solving and how the DifferenceMaker program can help them. Working together, students discussed their problems and helped each other develop a greater understanding of the problems they are trying to solve with their DifferenceMaker projects.

We hope you all can make it to the rest of our Workshop Series!

Food and drinks will be available!

All workshops are held in the Lydon Library, Room 110 on North Campus, from 5:30-7:30p.m.

February 22- Workshop 2: Assessing Opportunities and Value Proposition

February 27- Workshop 3: Developing your business model

March 1- Workshop 4: Delivering your Rocket Pitch

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2017 Idea Challenge Kick-Off and Idea Hack

The DifferenceMaker semester has officially begun! We kicked off the semester last night at our Spring 2017 Kick-Off and Idea Hack event at the Saab ETIC Atrium. Over 50 students, varying from freshman year through graduate school, attended. Attendees included students, faculty and staff, from various UMass Lowell colleges. 16174789_1401974719848407_8331833293423487928_n

Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and Founder of the DifferenceMaker Program, and Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, kicked the night off with a brief introduction to the Program and the Spring 2017 Idea Challenge. Then, Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiative Project Director, interviewed the DifferenceMaker teams, e-Nable and InvisaWear, to share with attendees the opportunities that come with winning the Idea Challenge. Afterword, attendees spent time discussing problems they want to solve, and shared some tentative solutions and strategies.


Refreshments were served, entrepreneurial ideas were brainstormed, and teams were built. This is just the start of an eventful, creative, and innovative Spring 2017 semester!

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Faculty Winter Workshop | January 11, 2017

On Wednesday. January 11, 2017, DifferenceMaker hosted the Faculty Winter Workshop at the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub at 110 Canal St.


Fifteen faculty members from different colleges throughout UMass Lowell attended in order to integrate elements of the DifferenceMaker ideology into their courses and to prepare their students for the $50K Idea Challenge this spring!


Thank you to all those could attend!


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