2022 Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition 

On Tuesday, December 6, 2022, the 2022 DifferenceMaker Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition was held at University Crossing from 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This event consisted of a preliminary round, fan favorite voting, and final round.  

The fifteen teams competing during the preliminary demonstration round were: 

  • Catnap, team members Majd Elhachem, Michael Ciampo, Khadija El Hadad, Fritznere Brutus, and Matheus Fonseca  
  • FilaMil, team members John Monsen, Garett Mallinson, Lethycia Sanchez, Rayyan Kherati, Jared Saye, and Emily LaBelle 
  • Helping Hand, team members Chris Sabu, Justin Sousa, Sara Pourgol Mohamad, and Hermela Mekonen 
  • JAMM Labs, team members Jacob Stover, Madelin Salazar, Allison Kelly, and Matthew Ikini  
  • Oersted, team members Manuel Magayanes and Eduardo Magayanes 
  • PackStrap, team members William Donohue, Katie Mcdonagh, Meredith Citrone, and Mattias Kantor 
  • Physical Engineers, team members Kyle Callahan and Alexander Johnston 
  • Pregnancy Back Brace, team members Marcela Villalta, Maria Belhous, Trevor Powers, Raygan Matte, and Kyle Laguerre 
  • Project Poseidon, team members Abdullah Jasim, Dylan Cormier, Abdelsalam Abutabikh, Amr Elkordy, Jeswin Jees, Jessica Borst, Charles Kenny, and Mustafa Al Hado 
  • RehaBand, team members Alexa DeVito, Maria Ferreira, Helen Kham, Timothy Roach, and Ardon Zibel 
  • Sociable, team members Sydney Campano, Paulo Henrique Borges, Scott Harwood, Kileigh Crail, and Jerry Takang 
  • Solar Crowdfund, team members Tolotra Samuel Randriakotonj, Muhammad Khalil, and Borna Doroudi 
  • Solar Sails, team members Quin Liang and Aalap Patel 
  • The Spectacle, team members Aryan Patil, Nicholas Sparages, Navya Garg, and Isidor Jankovich 
  • Vital Sensing, team members Haris Kum, Thang Do, Wynn Wiggins, Dayang Wang, and Tran Thien Quy Nguyen. 

The prototype demonstration and idea pitching round was held from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the lobby of University Crossing. Each team had five minutes to present their product to a panel of preliminary judges, followed by a five-minute Q&A session. The preliminary judges were: 

  • Jim Biggins, ‘03, Francis College of Engineering, President and CEO at Access Vascular 
  • Bob Findlen, ‘81, Francis College of Engineering, Director of Sales and Marketing at PolySource 
  • Joe Hallisey, ‘01, Francis College of Engineering, Director of Engineering, Automation Solutions Group at Brooks Automation 
  • Beth Haskell, ‘84, Francis College of Engineering, Vice President of Business Development for Advanced Electronic Systems, Excelitas Technologies Corp
  • Ken Horton, ‘79, Francis College of Engineering, Managing Director, C2C LLC
  • Dave Janeczek, ’82, ’85, Francis College of Engineering, Former Manager Process Development Center of Raytheon Technologies Corporation 
  • Joe Lane, ‘87, ‘93, Francis College of Engineering, CEO of SafePath Medical
  • Bill Perciballi, ’86, Francis College of Engineering, Founder and President, Force Engineering
  • Leigh Sharrock, ’03, Francis College of Engineering, Director, Systems Engineering of Brooks Automation, Inc 
Team RehaBands ready to pitch their idea to the judges at the preliminary round.  

During the prototype demonstration round, the judges scored each team based on the problem that was being solved, the opportunity that it holds, prototype quality, resources/implementation needed, presentation effectiveness, and overall project. After seeing each team’s pitch and demonstrations, the preliminary judges deliberated on which teams would move forward for the final round. 

The teams that moved onto the final competition were: 

  • Catnap, team members Majd Elhachem, Michael Ciampo, Khadija El Hadad, Fritznere Brutus, and Matheus Fonseca  
  • FilaMill, team members John Monsen, Garett Mallinson, Lethycia Sanchez, Rayyan Kherati, Jared Saye, and Emily LaBelle 
  • PackStrap, team members team members William Donohue, Katie Mcdonagh, Meredith Citrone, and Mattias Kantor 
  • Physical Engineers, team members team members Kyle Callahan and Alexander Johnston 
  • RehaBand, team members Alexa DeVito, Maria Ferreira, Helen Kham, Timothy Roach, and Ardon Zibel 
  • Solar Sails, team members Quin Liang and Aalap Patel 
Team Solar Sails pitching their idea and prototype to a panel of preliminary judges. 

Meanwhile, the prototype public viewing was held from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in the lobby of University Crossing. Event attendees which consisted of students, faculty, community friends, and family each had three votes to disperse to the teams they liked the best. The team that had the most DifferenceMaker Dollars would be awarded the $500 Fan Favorite Award. 

The Final Round Competition was held in Moloney Hall from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. It began with opening remarks by Dean Sherwood and Provost Hartman. Next, the five finalist teams pitched their ideas on stage and demonstrated their prototype to the panel of final judges. 

The judges during the final round were: 

After all the presentations the final judges deliberated and selected the winners for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes. Additionally, the Fan Favorite votes were counted and the winner of the Fan Favorite award was announced. 

The final awards were: 

TeamCatnap accepting their 1st place award with Dean Sherwood. 
  • 1st Place, $2,500, as well as automatically advancing to the Rist DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge Preliminary Pitch-off in April 2023, Catnap – Majd Elhachem, Michael Ciampo, Khadija El Hadad, Fritznere Brutus, and Matheus Fonseca  
  • 2nd Place, $1,500, Solar Sails – Quin Liang and Aalap Patel 
  • 3rd place, $1,000, – RehaBand –  Alexa DeVito, Maria Ferreira, Helen Kham, Timothy Roach, and Ardon Zibel 
  • Fan Favorite, $500 – Project Poseidon – Abdullah Jasim, Dylan Cormier, Abdelsalam Abutabikh, Amr Elkordy, Jeswin Jees, Jessica Borst, Charles Kenny, and Mustafa Al Hado 

Thank you to everyone who attended and supported this event!  

Interested in pitching an idea and getting funding? Applications for the 11th Annual $50,000 Idea Challenge are open now – apply today! 

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2022 DCU / Manning Innovation Contest

On December 1, 2022, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute held the 10th Annual DCU/Manning School of Business Innovation Contest from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at University Crossing, Moloney Hall. To kick off the event, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs for the Manning School of Business and Event Emcee of the evening, Amit Deokar provided welcoming remarks.  

After the remarks, the finalist judges were introduced. The judges for the evening were: 

 – Edward Gallagher ‘84, Senior Vice President (retired), Northeast Division, Comcast Business Services 

– Hoang Nguyen ‘07, Director of Finance, DCU 

– Sandesh Parulekar, Director of Information Systems Development, DCU  

– Darcie Sunnerberg ‘87, Vice President/Sovereign Analyst, Loomis Sayles and Company 

Once all judges were introduced, the event began! Five student finalist teams were given ten minutes to present their ideas, along with five minutes of Q&A from the judges. The teams that presented were: 

– AlgoPal, team members Edvard Nordlund, Matthew Crasa, Gabriel Blanchard, Isac Jonsson, Stefan Owens  

– Bridged Connection, team members Isaac Carpio and Dumark Ramirez 

– PayDay, team members Nick Woolsey, Andrew Tarnowski, Daniella Pacheco 

– PTB – Private Teller Booths, team members Nicole Chanquet, Sharon Banks-Obanor, Jesse Kajko, and Mustafa Bellakhdar 

– Solar Crowdfund, team members Tolotra Samuel, Muhammad Khalil, and Borna Doroundi 

Each semi-finalist team member won $100. The teams’ idea ranged from topics such as algorithmic trading, AI teller booth, crowdfunding platform, and more. After each pitch, judges asked questions to help them further understand the ideas. The judges ranked each team based on how clearly they explained their executive summary, mission statement, business goals, market analysis, how they would utilize funding, and project timeline.

Judges listening to a business pitch given by Dunmark Ramirez from Team Bridged Connection, alongside with team member Isaac Carpio

Following the presentations, judges went to a separate area to deliberate the final winner. During this time, all attendees got food, networked with each other, and further discussed the inspiration and details of the ideas that were pitched. 

Around 8:00 pm, the judges returned to announce the final award. Congratulations to team Solar Crowdfund for winning the final prize of $500 per team member! They also automatically advance to the DifferenceMaker Preliminary Pitch-off this spring. 

Team Solar Crowdfun with team members Tolotra Samuel and Muhammad Khalil, announced as the 10th Annual DifferenceMaker DCU / Manning School of Business Innovation Contest Winners.  

In total, DCU awarded $2,300 to student teams at this event.  

Interested in pitching an idea and getting funding?

Applications for the 11th Annual $50,000 Idea Challenge are open now – apply today

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2022 DifferenceMaker High School Idea Challenge

On November 30th, The Rist DifferenceMaker Institute held the 4th Annual High School Idea Challenge from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the UMass Lowell Mark & Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center.

To kick-off the event, Gina Mustoe, teacher at Westford Academy, gave opening remarks. She then passed the stage to Provost Joe Hartman, who shared inspiring words to the students about of the importance of making a positive impact in the world by developing creative ideas.

Next, David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, presented an overview of DifferenceMaker, sharing the benefits and opportunities the program offers. Then, Tom O’Donnell, Senior Director, Innovation Initiatives, UMass Lowell, introduced the judges and emceed the event.

The judges were Nick Jarek (Rist DifferenceMaker Co-Op, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute), Donna McFadden (Massachusetts DECA State Advisor), Tom O’Donnell, and Wynn Wiggins (Co-Founder, Vital Sensing Patch).

After the judge introductions, the event began. The audience was excited to hear the creative ideas from each high school student team. Each pitching team had 5 minutes to present, followed by 5 minutes of judge Q&A. The judges deliberated after all of the presentations!

Makena Bailey, Grace Cardoso, Katerina Davis, Samantha Sharma, representing Nashoba Regional High School, pitching their product Highlight Helper.

Congratulations to all teams that presented and won awards!

1st place, $500 – Braydon Gray, Gabriel Silva, and Catherine West, Chelmsford High School – “The Hcky Stick” – A collapsible hockey stick made from high quality plastic that is easy to store.

2nd place, $300 – Laney Beahn, Sara Lewis, Grace Mathieu, Ava Mills, and Chloe Vescio, Blackstone Regional High School – “Medimate” – A sanitizing device that kills bacteria from shoes.

3rd place, $200 – Isaac Cho and Dan Ottesen, Westford Academy – “Sleepytime Supplements” – a pack of milk and cookies with melatonin and valerian to help users with falling asleep.

After the presentations, lunch was served, and round table mentor meetings took place between past DifferenceMaker teams and the high school teams. Each high school team had a 15-minute mentor session with the DifferenceMaker college students, in which they got the opportunity to speak with every mentor.

Mentors and high school teams network after the pitch-off session.

Thank you to the past DifferenceMaker teams who volunteered their time to support and inspire the high school students:

Minds with Purpose, Jeurys Santiago
UMass Lowell Japanese Student Association, Mina Lam
Vital Sensing Patch, Haris Kum and Wynn Wiggins
Rist DifferenceMaker Co-Op, Nick Jarek

Thank you to DECA Inc. for sponsoring the event prizes. Another thanks to all partnership schools and teachers involved in this collaboration.

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