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

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