2018 Idea Challenge Kick-off & Idea Hack

This past Monday, February 12th, after a snow storm and a rescheduling, we finally held our 2018 Idea Challenge Kick-off from 5:30 to 7PM in the Saab ETIC Atrium located on North Campus. There was a large array of food, and the night started with some light networking as everyone got set up. We had over 45+ students attending this event! Steve Tello, Vice Provost for Innovation and Workforce Development, started the event with an overview of the program and a brief explanation of this years Idea Challenge.

Shortly after, a panel of students and alumni was lead by Neil Shortland, Director for the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, and Assistant Professor. The panel included Rajia Abdelaziz from Invisawear, Craig Kelly & Julie Ballo with eNable, and Kierra Walsh with UML Green Roofs. They talked about their experiences with DifferenceMaker and how they were able to turn their ideas into a reality.

To close the night, Ha Pho, Manager of DifferenceMaker led an Idea Hack. Students were asked to form groups based on their ideas. Some examples of categories were Social Responsibility, Opioid Challenge, Mobile Application, and Health and Wellness. Teams were asked to brainstorm problems related to their category, and then try and form a solution. One team member from each group would then describe their problem and solution!

It was so exciting to see the students working together to come up with ideas, and having fun! We’re thankful to everyone who came, and we hoped some students will take their ideas and apply to the Idea Challenge. Applications close February 19th!

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2018 Freshmen DifferenceMaker Seminar

This past Friday, February 9th, we held our 2018 Freshman DifferenceMaker Seminar in Olney, room 150, on North Campus. Freshman from different classes piled in to the big lecture hall to hear the experiences from three current and previous DifferenceMaker teams!

DifferenceMaker Director, Holly Butler, led a panel of students and alumni to discuss their experience with DifferenceMaker, and how their success has continued after receiving mentorship. The three teams were eNable Lowell, Invisawear, and UML Greenroofs. Each answered questions and gave great advice like “don’t be afraid to ask for advice” and “don’t be afraid to start.”

After, the audience was able to ask the panel questions. Questions ranged from asking Invisawear about their product, to “would you consider going on shark tank.”

We hope the seminar was resourceful, and we are excited to see people come to DifferenceMaker Central to share their ideas with us!


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eNables 2nd Annual Comedy Show Fundraiser!

Come support eNable!

eNable is hosting their 2nd Annual Comedy Show Fundraiser at University Crossing, Moloney Hall, on February 21st, from 6-9 PM! Come stop by to see comedian Graig Murphy headline. There will also be live music, auctions, raffles, and loads of food! You can’t miss out!

You can purchase tickets for $35/person at their website: https://enablelowell.weebly.com/2018fundraiser.html

Also, if you reserve a table for 8 or more, you can get a discounted price of $30/person

They have also recently announced there will be tickets sold with a student discount, for only $20! You can email Team@eNableLowell.com to reserve your student ticket. Make sure to have your student ID handy.

Hope you can make it!


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EXTENDED 2018 Idea Challenge Application

Due to the snow day on Feb. 7th, and the rescheduling of our other events, the application deadline for the Idea Challenge has been extended to February 19th, by 5P.M.

Make sure to still attend our Kick-off event, now on February 12th in the Saab ETIC Atrium at 5:30P.M.

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Kickoff Idea Hack Rescheduled to Monday, Feb. 12th!

Due to the snow day on Feb. 7th, the DifferenceMaker Kickoff Idea Hack will be RESCHEDULED to Monday, Feb. 12th. The location will be in the Saab ETIC on North Campus, and the event will take place from 5:30-7p.m.

Come join us in kicking off our $50,000 Idea Challenge and Idea Hack! Stop by to hear from real DifferenceMaker students, and how they turned their ideas into success stories.

When: Monday, February 12th
Where: Saab ETIC, Atrium, North Campus
Time: 5:30-7PM

Food and drinks will be served.

We hope to see you on Monday!



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2017 DCU Innovation Contest

This Tuesday, December 5th, the DCU Innovation Contest was held in the SAAB ETIC, Perry Atrium, from 6 to 9PM. The event started with pizza, drinks, and networking.

Dean Sandra Richtermeyer addressed the crowd praising their drive to succeed in business, and Steve Tello, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, kicked off the competition!

Four teams went ahead of the panel of judges, including Jim Regan, CEO of Digital Federal Credit Union, Sarah LaLiberte, ’06, Owner & Founder, Mainspire Marketing, and Vasilios Roussos, Managing Director, Fintech Innovation Center. Teams then made a ten-minute presentation on their banking and/or financial innovations.

First up was Team ATMPal. Their team consisted of members Xuan Bui, Zachary Fay, Andre Ragel, and Greg Smelkov. They presented their idea on a mobile app that allows users to find the nearest ATM, and then sort them by free ATM charge.

The next team to go was Guided Savings Projector. Members included Kaitlyn Hanerfeld, Kristen Bauer, and Eli Gukovsky. Their idea was an app that allows users to enter their earnings per week or year, and they will be provided with a projection on a sliding scale of 1-100 of the percentage they would like to save.

After was Team Cheetahead. Thomas Stranberg, Bryan Desrosiers, Ethan Gariepy, and Steve Alger presented their recommendations for Digital Federal Credit Union to create an educational cryptocurrencies tool that can clarify, monitor, and help its investor to use cryptocurrencies to their full potential.

Lastly, Team True to You pitched their idea of a security software for the banking industry, which utilize facial recognition and block chain technology to improve the mobile clients’ financial data. Team members included Gregory Montemurro and Dave Seybert.

The judges deliberated, and then announced the winners.

In fourth place was ATMPal. Third place went to Guided Savings Projector. Cheetahead took home second, and lastly first place went to True to You! Each member of the semi-finalist teams went home with $100 each, and the members of True to You took home $500 each!


Thank you to everyone who participated, and congratulations to the teams! We hope to see everyone’s ideas submitted into the 2018 $50,000 Idea Challenge!




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2017 FAHSS Creative Venture Competiton

On Wednesday, December 6th, the Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Creative Venture Competition was held. Students, faculty, and spectators piled into Room 222 of O’Leary Library to get a glimpse of students brilliant ideas. Student teams presented in front of a panel of esteemed judges who then chose their favorite idea.

To kick off the event, Dean Luis M. Falcón introduced all the judges and a little bit about them.

Judges included: Glenn Morgan, a graduate of the University of Lowell, who then went on to become the founder and CEO of Skyworld interactive until he sold his share in the business last year. He is now full-time consulting on mergers and acquisitions, operations, digital services and account profitability for New England’s leading full-service ad agencies; Jack Ford, a graduate of Lowell State College where he earned degrees in Education and History, and eventually completed his masters at Clark University. Jack currently is the principal at JF3 consulting, which provides strategy and acquisition consulting to corporate clients. Lastly, Danielle McFadden, a graduate of UMass Lowell in 2007, who is now the President of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce and has been for over 6 years now.

The first team to present was a one member team of Lindsay MacDonald, a Senior Psychology major, with her idea, Mindsense, an “educational social service that provides schools with mindfulness training using an organic community-based approach to grow an environment of mindfulness in the educational setting.”

Next was Team Personalized Learning. Personalized Learning’s members included Daniel Falcone, ManojReddy Dumpa, Tejaswini Gaddam, Troy Lamontagne, Michael Nelson, Daniel Santos, Karansinh Thakor, and KavyaKumar Vallurupalli. Their idea is “a web platform that utilizes psychology and adaptive matchmaking that gives recommendations to students based on their personality, learning styles and study habits to find the optimal professor for every class they need to take.”

The next team to present was Team Project Pace. The team included members Matthew Chigas, Brenna Ambrose, Kyle Cooper, Daniel Gonzalez, Matthew Levenson, and Colleen Silva. Project Pace pitched an idea for an “online platform for young people to discuss uncomfortable topics surrounding extremism. The platform provides tailored educational contents to a target audience of 13 to 25-year-olds to provide them with tools they need to counter misinformation.”

Lastly, Team App Development pitched their idea of “an online platform with people with similar interests, race, career, pass, religion etc. can become connected. The platform primarily targets individuals who are new to a city, people who are postgraduate and are looking to build relationships and attend different activities in the community.” App Developments members included Bethsaida Saint-Vil, Information Technology, Graduate and Shamilah Ulysse, Education Administration, Graduate.

First place with a $5,000 prize went to Project Pace!!

Thank you to everyone for coming and to all the teams who participated! We hope to see teams submit their ideas into our 2018 $50,000 Idea Challenge!

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2017 Engineering Prototyping Finals

This past Monday, December 4th, the Francis College of Engineering hosted the Prototyping College-based Competition is the SAAB ETIC, Perry Atrium from 4PM-8:30PM. Faculty, students, and outside spectators were welcomed to view the students prototypes, and vote on their favorites as well!

During the spectating, a panel of preliminary judges including, Steve Rogers, Mark Dyment, Mike Ryder, and Sarah Washburn, went around and listened to a three-minute pitch on each teams prototype. After, they deliberated and picked their top four favorites. These teams included Handy Bandages, Pillzio, Pic n’ Paint, and CareerHawk. Each team then went in front of the panel of judges, including including Stephen McCarthy, Cindy Conde, Chad LaFrance, and Bhupen Shah, and pitched a ten-minute long presentation on their product. The presentation was followed by questions from the judges, and then the decisions were made on who wins!

The peoples choice, or fan favorite $250 prize went to Arsalan Khalid, PhD Civil and Environmental Engineering, of Team Water Challenge, which aims to develop an effective lead removal device for water distribution system.

Third place with a prize of $500 was awarded to Pic N’ Paint, a device that accurately reproduces any color (input through a camera) using several CNC axis to dispense the correct ratios of cyan, magenta, yellow and black paint into a single container. Team members included Romer Sullivan, Mechanical Engineering, Freshman; Joshua O’Neil, Mechanical Engineering, Freshman; Kemper Hopwood, Mechanical Engineering, Freshman; Mathew Minichiello, Mechanical Engineering, Freshman; Timoth Marcotte, Mechanical Engineering, Sophomore.

Second place with a prize of $750 went to Pillzio, which leverages the power of Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant, and allows you to interact with your medications like never before. Team members included Jooseppi Luna, Mechanical Engineering, Junior; Dave Machado, Computer Science, Senior; Darrien Glasser, Computer Science, Senior; Joshua Hassler, Computer Science, Junior.

First Place Graduate Winners with a prize of $1000 went to CareerHawk, which makes it easier for students to find a job on campus and helps professors find student assistants easier. Team members included Jingchuan Zhou, MS Computer Science; Lina Wu, MS Computer Engineering; Ruizhe Du, BSE Electrical Engineering, Senior; Yongdae Kwon, BBA Business Administration, Senior.

Finally, first place over all with a prize of $1000 was given to Handy Bandages, which is an inexpensive ‘sock’ that goes over the arm or leg while the patient is waiting for care. This helps to shield the wound from airborne pathogens in a hospital waiting room. Team members included Jennifer Schultz, Biomedical Engineering, Freshman; Cameron Albert, Biomedical Engineering, Freshman; Jayden Hairston, Biomedical Engineering, Freshman.

Lastly, the night closed with some networking!

Thank you to all the teams who participated, the judges, the Francis College of Engineering, and all the spectators for coming and making this event a success! We hope to see some of these ideas come through in our $50,000 Idea Challenge this spring!



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2017 Hack AE

On the weekend of November 4th, UMass Lowell hosted the annual Hack AE (America East Hackathon), a 24-hour competition with a focus on developing technological solutions to real-world problems. The focus of the event was on “Hacking for a Better World.” The event was held on South Campus in O’Leary Library. Activities started at around 11 AM on Saturday, and went all the way to 4 PM on Sunday, November 5th.

There were more than 120 students from 8 universities. UMass Lowell teams took 3 of the 6 top prizes at the hackathon (Digital Health, Best Education, and Best Beginner Hack), while teams from the University of Maine took home the Cleantech Prize, University of Maryland Baltimore County won the Opioid Epidemic Challenge Award, and Binghamton took home Best Cyber Security Hack.

There were also many great speakers at the event. Juliette Kenny, Executive Director of the America East opened the Hackathon with the rules and expectations, Provost Michael Vayda welcomed the students at the opening, and Steve Tello, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, spoke at the closing event on Sunday.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made this event a success!


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2017 Annual DifferenceMaker Celebration

On October 11th from 5:30-8P.M., DifferenceMaker held their 3rd Annual Celebration in Moloney Hall in University Crossing. Many alumni, students, and faculty were invited to learn about the success of the program, and share their own experiences with DifferenceMaker. Food and drinks were served, and there was lots of mingling throughout the night!

Professor Steve Tello with opening remarks and introduction to DifferenceMaker

Professor Steve Tello opened the event with remarks and demonstrated the different areas where DifferenceMaker has succeeded in the numbers and showed the growth we have had over the years. He then introduced President Marty Meehan, Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, and Jack Wilson, President Emeritus of UMass. Professor Tello presented Jack Wilson with the Wilson Center of Entrepreneurship in MSB.

Professor Steve Tello, Jack Wilson, President Emeritus of UMass, President Marty Meehan, & Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney

Next, our 2017 Faculty Fellows were announced: Michelle Bazin, Neil Shortland, Guanling Chen, Mazen El Ghaziri, Brent Shell, Deborah Finch, and Hunter Mack. We thank them for their support in helping our teams!

Ha Pho, Project Manager at DifferenceMaker then led a Student Showcase and Q&A with Jaime Keenan with Operation250 and her mentor Michelle Bazin, and Rajia Abdelaziz with Invisawear, and her mentor Ray Southworth. Some great questions were asked, and even better responses, with some awesome audience participation.

Some Alumni also were on stage for a discussion and Q&A led by Holly Butler, Director of DifferenceMaker. Alumni included Chris McKenna (’89), Brenda Maille (’78), Susan de Mari (’98 ’90), Glenn Morgan (’86), & Richard Juknavorian (’98). They talked about their involvement in DifferenceMaker and the impact you can have in getting involved.

We thank everyone for joining us, and making this celebration such a success!

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