2022 10th Annual DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge

On Wednesday, April 13, 2022, DifferenceMaker hosted the 10th Annual $50,000 Idea Challenge at University Crossing, Moloney Hall, Room 260.

The event began at 5 p.m. with a networking reception and poster viewing. The ten finalist student teams showcased their projects to students, faculty, and alumni. Attendees were given “DifferenceMaker dollars” to distribute to their favorite teams for “Fan Favorite”.

Fan Favorite team, MetaLingual, standing by their poster talking to guests who attended the $50,000 Idea Challenge Finals. Professional photo credit to Meg Moore.

Around, at 6 p.m., Neil Shortland, Professor and Faculty Fellow of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences provided welcoming remarks to kick-off the event. He then introduced Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, who also spoke.

Afterward, from 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., the student teams pitched off! Each team got five minutes to pitch, followed by a five minute Q&A session by the judges.

Once all teams pitched, the judges went into a separate room to deliberate. While they did so, there was more networking and poster viewing.

Team USuccess pitching their financial literacy curriculum to the panel of judges. Professional photo credit to Meg Moore.

Thank you to the panel of judges:

Lorna Boucher, ’86, Manning School of Business; Chief Marketing Officer, Instinet

Roger Cressey ’87, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Partner, Mountain Wave Ventures, LLC

Brian Rist ’77, Manning School of Business; Chairman, Rist Family Foundation

Maura Walsh ’80, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences; President, Hospital Corporation of America’s Gulf Coast Division (retired)

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

The Judges watching the finalist teams pitch during the 10th Annual $50,000 Idea Challenge. Professional photo credit to Meg Moore.

At 8:30 p.m., the final awards ceremony and closing remarks took place. Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute welcomed everyone back. She then introduced Brian Rist, ‘77, Manning School of Business, Chairman, Rist Family Foundation. Mr. Rist announced the winners.

 Congratulations to all teams!

Rist Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker – $6,000 – Amara:
A social media platform with transparency and a better algorithm.
Brandon Conceicao, Adam Iskandar, Biology

Commitment to a Sustainable Environment – $4,000 – ThermoEXA: Intelligent and personalized indoor temperature control through unique biometrics recognition.
Ariel Pena-Martinez, Computer Engineering, and Grissel Cervantes-Jaramillo

Jack. M. Wilson First Product to Market Award (Sponsored by Jack Wilson, President Emeritus) – $4,000 – Hoppers:
A board game that fosters education, communication skills, and creativity for younger children.
Abigail White, Biology, Alyssa Kennedy, Biology

Sutherland Innovative Technology Solution (Sponsored by Andrew Sutherland ’94) – $4,000 – Tendren:
A wireless pulse oximeter combined with an ECG/blood pressure to track patients in the waiting room.
Ethan Block, Biomedical Engineering, Amie Russell Biomedical Engineering, Victoria Williams, Biomedical Engineering

Contribution to a Healthier Lifestyle – $4,000 – PEAK Performance:
A device that assesses/corrects rotational misalignments between the pelvis and spine.

Evelyn Duffy, Biomedical Engineering and Business, Mark Elman, Biomedical Engineering, Steven Evangelos Biomedical Engineering, Matthew Martel, Exercise Science

Significant Social Impact – $4,000 – Minds with Purpose:
A networking platform that unites people of different professions, areas, and styles.
Sammy Santana, Liberal Arts, Jeurys Santiago, Business

Honorable Mention – $2,000 – StockToMe:
A stock opinion community where anybody can post an opinion about a stock.
Matthew Allen, Business, Matthew Kinash, Business – Entrepreneurship, Jackson Sterrett, Business

Honorable Mention – $2,000 – UMass Lowell Japanese Student Association:
An organization dedicated to promoting Japanese culture.
Mina Lam, Business

Honorable Mention – $2,000 – USuccess:
A program to help individuals’ financial situations through education.
Kaitlyn Catron, Business, Kyle Knapp, Business, Anna Kouadio, Business, Mikaela Murphy, Business, Nyna Pendkar, Business

Honorable Mention – $2,000 – Vital Sensing Patch:
An all-in-one, affordable vitals monitoring device that can be used anywhere. Thang Do, Biomedical Engineering, Haris Kum, Biomedical Engineering, Wynn Wiggins, Business – Entrepreneurship

Fan Favorite – $1,000 – MetaLingual:
Virtual Reality experience containing servers of various 6D 360 immersive environments that promotes language learning that offers a real-life experience.
Aiman Baig, Computer Science, Nihal Chaudhary, Language Studies, Haris Waqar, Electrical Engineering, Isa Ahmed, Business – Accounting, Samuel Lugo, Electrical Engineering, Zuhair Shaikh Computer Science

The Honorable Mention winning teams with Brian Rist 77, Manning School of Business; Chairman, Rist Family Foundation and Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute. Professional photo credit to Meg Moore.

To close off the night, Joseph Hartman, Provost and Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, UMass Lowell closed off the event. He mentioned a quote that Jeurys Santiago, CEO, Minds with Purpose, posted on LinkedIn after the Preliminary Pitch-Off – “I’m here today because I failed last year!” This showcases that if you put your mind towards working on your passions, hard work pays off.

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2022 10th Annual DifferenceMaker $50K Idea Challenge Finals! View photos from the event here.

View UMass Lowell article written by Ed Brennan, Senior Writer, UMass Lowell.

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