2021 DifferenceMaker Kick-Off and College Competition Announcement

On Wednesday, September 22, 2021, from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. DifferenceMaker held its’ first in person event in a long time – the Season Kick-off and College Competition Announcement!

Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, kicked off the event. She then introduced Brenda Evans, Dean, Student Affairs and Events Services, who also provided opening welcoming remarks.

Then, Adam Basma and Yeaharne Hout, two Rist DifferenceMaker CO-OPs, presented an overview about the program. Adam spoke about the opportunities that the program offers, such as the ability to be paired with mentors, learn about critical skills through the workshop series, and to be able to connect with students from varying backgrounds and form a team.

Yeaharne provided examples of student teams, such as TrueFIT, Digital Life, and Tommy Vi’s Gelato. She additionally spoke about the benefits and interesting statistics on DifferenceMaker teams, such as how over $5 million were raised by over 130 winning teams, and 40 companies formed since its’ inception in 2013.

Yeaharne Hout, DifferenceMaker Social Media Assistant and CO-OP student, spoke about the benefits of forming a DifferenceMaker team.

After they spoke, guest speakers were introduced to discuss ways to get involved with DifferenceMaker this semester through three College Competitions.

Thomaz De Moura, Innovations Director, Digital Federal Credit Union, announced details regarding the DCU/Manning Innovation Contest. This contest encourages innovations in the banking industry, such as ideas around financial literary or mobile technology solutions. The top prize is $500 in cash per team member and each finalist student is awarded $100 in cash. Registration for the DCU/Manning Innovation Contest opened on September 22, 2021 and closes on October 22, 2021 at 5 p.m.

Kavitha Chandra, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Affairs, Francis College of Engineering and Carter Keough, Professor, Francis College of Engineering and DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow, announced the details of the Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition. This competition encourages students to work with a team to turn an idea into a product with any resources available – $100 is reimbursable for prototyping materials.

Participants must be students at the University and at least one member on the team must be from the Francis College of Engineering. Additionally, the team should have a faculty advisor from the Francis College of Engineering. The application registration opened on September 22, 2021 and will be closed on October 22, 2021 at 5 p.m.

Wael Kamal, Assistant Dean, Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (FAHSS), announced a new contest for this semester: The FAHSS Creative Community Competition. The competition is sponsored by the College of Fine Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Glenn Morgan ’86 FAHSS, and The Rist DifferenceMaker® Institute.  This competition’s goal is to inspire students to create products and services that make a change in their communities. The registration opened on September 15, 2021, and there is a workshop for teams on October 7th, 2021 at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ruairi O’Mahony, Executive Director, Rist Institute for Sustainability, spoke about the S.E.E.D Grant Program. This program provides students with funding to pursuing projects around campus that focus on sustainability and improve the campus atmosphere. Students are able to apply for grants up to $10,000 to put their campus sustainability projects into action.

Kavitha Chandra, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs, Francis College of Engineering announced the details of the Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition.

Concluding the announcements, David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, presented the details for a fun, interactive, Ideation Activity. At this activity, each of the different tables had a central topic for which the teams based their innovations on. The topics included Art and Music, Environmental, Innovative Technology, Financial Baking, Social Responsibility, Healthcare, Customer Products, and Other.

Each table was asked to write down problems that relate to their topic. From there, each team chose a main problem to focus on for the remainder of the activity. Each person at the table then wrote down solution ideas on post-it notes and stuck them to the team’s board. Next, they voted on which solution would be the best. After that, the team members discussed their solutions even further and crafted models of it with Legos. Each table then were able to share to all attendees about the problem and the solution they had created.

Students and faculty fellows brainstorming ideas for problems and solutions to work on during the Ideation Activity.

Holly Lalos, closed out the event. Thank you to all students, faculty, alumni, and supporters who attended! Learn more about the college competitions and apply here.