2020 DifferenceMaker® Engineering Prototyping Competition Finals

On December 3rd, 2020, the DifferenceMaker® Engineering Prototyping Competition Finals took place!

Associate Dean Kavitha Chandra opened this event with welcoming remarks and kicked-off the evening.

A huge thank you to all finalist judges:

– Chad LaFrance – ’92 Francis College of Engineering, Director of Texas Instruments

– Mark Saab – ’81,’13 (H) Francis College of Engineering, Founding Trustee, Saab Family Foundation

– Ram Sudireddy – ’92 Francis College of Engineering and Kennedy College of Sciences, CEO and Co-Founder of Bento

– Manijeh Goldberg – ’82, ’84 Francis College of Engineering and Kennedy College of Sciences, CEO and Founder of Privo Technologies Inc

– Jack Wilson – President Emeritus UMass System and Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, and Innovation, University of Massachusetts Lowell

And, a huge thank you to all Preliminary Round judges:

– Rich Caruso – ‘73 Francis College of Engineering

– Loretta Doughty – ‘88 Francis College of Engineering

– Steve Geyster – ‘83 Francis College of Engineering

– Paul Makris – ’91 Francis College of Engineering

– Chris McKenna – ‘89 Francis College of Engineering

– Christine Mizioch – ‘91 Francis College of Engineering

– Chris Olson – ‘88 Francis College of Engineering

– Natalie Olson – ‘88 College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

– Bhupen Shah – ‘92 Francis College of Engineering

– Marc Thomas – ’82 Francis College of Engineering

– Rob Valiton – ‘86 Francis College of Engineering

After the opening remarks, one finalist student team was announced to pitch their idea. Out of all 17 Preliminary Round presentations, five were chosen by the preliminary judges to pitch their ideas. None of the teams knew if they were chosen beforehand – allowing for extra excitement to hear who was pitching for the evening!

Each student team was given 5 minutes to pitch, followed by five-minutes of judge Q&A. The ideas were innovative and life-changing. For example, creating a pill container shaped as an apple to appeal to children, teaching women in developing countries how to create their own feminine pads, creating a knee brace where you can track the healing process through your phone, and more.

Once all the student teams were given the chance to pitch their idea and answer the judges’ questions, it was time for the judge deliberation. All judges were put into a separate Zoom meeting to discuss who the top three winners of the evening were.

Congratulations to all finalist teams!

1st place – $2,500 – Connect Knee A knee brace that incorporates the use of EMG censors and goniometers to track and record a patient’s recovery, making it more efficient and hands on.

Team Members: Jackson Kelley, Tiffany Miller, Alyssa Mulry

2nd place – $1,500 – FEMME New era of affordable menstruation pads for developing countries that are non-toxic to the environment and to the human body.

Team Members: Joanna Chase, Kristin Kihara, Massanica Mom, Skylar Murph

3rd place – S1,000 –Strip Away the Backlog Low-cost rape test kit using ELISA in an effort to end the backlog of rape test kits in the U.S.A.

Team Members: Victoria Acosta Diaz, Emily Doherty, Ariel Dulaney, Madison Merrill

Honorable Mention – An Apple A Day Apple shaped pill containers that appeal to children, allowing them to enjoy taking their daily medications.

Team Members: Param Patel, Emily Philpot, Jack Ryan

Honorable Mention – Wonder Wheel An affordable wheelchair power assist technology.

Team Members: Alexander Hoefer, Sanskriti Sharma

Before this evening, there was a crowd voting session. To see all teams’ presentations, check out the DifferenceMaker YouTube Channel here. Everyone who registered for this event was given a chance to vote for their three favorite teams, and the team with the most votes was given the Crowd Favorite award for the evening.

The Crowd Favorite team was team Terminus! They pitched the wonderful idea of being able to grow fresh fruits and vegetables on planets such as Mars and won an additional $500. After this announcement, Provost Hartman gave some closing remarks to end the event.

Congratulations to all teams and thank you to everyone who attended this event and made it a success! We welcome anyone with an idea to enter the Spring 2021 $50,000 Idea Challenge. The application is now open, and will close on February 12. Apply today!

2020 DifferenceMaker® DCU Manning Innovation Contest Finals

On December 3, 2020, DifferenceMaker held its’ DCU Manning Innovation Contest Finals. At this event, six student finalist teams pitched their ideas to solve problems related to banking and finance.

The event opened up with welcoming remarks from Sandra Richtermeyer, Dean of the Manning School of Business. She then introduced Thomaz De Moura, Innovations Manager at Digital Federal Credit Union, who also said some opening words.

After the welcome, the judges for the evening were introduced. The judges for the evening were:

  • Andrew Knaebel, Director of Information Systems Infrastructure, DCU
  • Sandesh Parulekar, Director of Information Systems Development, DCU
  • Barbara Russel, Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Cap W
  • Joseph Vaillancourt, ’90, ’01, Manning School of Business, Managing Partner of Venture Enterprises, LLC and the President of Cyclyx International, Inc

After the judges were introduced, the show began! Six student finalist teams each pitched their idea, followed by a five-minute judge Q&A session. The teams that presented were:

  • Borrowed Pay Cut, Kevin Zhang
  • Cash Transfer, Aiman Baig, Abhi Kiran, Danny Nguyen, Fazil Soharwardi, Haris Waqar
  • Millennial Finance Educators, Amy Michelin, Craig Williams
  • Paper Trail, Yeaharne Hout, Edward Morante
  • SearchIn, Md Sadman Islan
  • Track It, Yuhan Sung

All teams shared amazing and creative ideas. They ranged from educating young adults on how to be financially free, creating an app that teaches people about financial education with the ability to earn cash, bank to member transfers, and more.

Once all the teams shared their ideas and answered follow-up questions from the judges, it was time for the judges to decide the first-place winner. Each finalist team earned $100 per member as a prize, and the top finalist team earned $500 per member. The judges broke out into a separate breakout room to deliberate.

While the judges were deliberating, Dean Richtermeyer encouraged the student teams to network on platforms such as LinkedIn. This was a great way to make new connections – virtually!

When the judges came back from their deliberation room, the first-place finalist winner was announced! The top finalist for the night was team Millennial Finance Educators. They pitched the amazing idea of the Financial Freedom Program. This program would teach teenagers and young adults about financial literacy, allowing them to develop good habits that will lead them towards financial independence in their futures.

A total of $2,200 was awarded to student teams!

Congratulations to all student teams that made it as a finalist for this competition! We encourage you to apply for the DifferenceMaker Spring 2021 $50,000 Idea Challenge. This challenge is open to students of all majors, with ideas about any topic. The application is open now and will close on February 12, 2020. Apply here.