The 2017 $50K Idea Challenge Semi-Finalists Announced!

The 2017 $50K Idea Challenge is quickly approaching! Make sure to attend the both the Preliminary Pitch Off and the Idea Challenge and cheer on your peers. Congratulations to all these hardworking teams that have made it to the semi-finalist round:


  1. Artemis Child Safety Seat: Joshua Kraunelis, Naveen Ravi, Ryan Fitzpatrick
  2. Breezy: Anne Faber
  3. CareBit: Michael Shorey, Vishwasini Vageesh, Daniel Quigley, Maria Mara
  4. Credit Cash: Sary Nhet
  5. Cyborg: Jishnu Menon Asokakumar, Ram Das, Adam Ferguson, ChandraSekhar Kolli, Dhiren Rathod
  6. DigiBank: Cullin Lam, Emily Seto, Kody Thach, Daniel Uk, Kevin Hoan, Siven Hang, Bunchhieng Soth
  7. Disaster Guard: Dave Machado, Darrien Glasser
  8. DreamSteam: Michael Kierman
  9. Get Girls Going Inc: Nana Younge, Queenly Amankwah
  10. Hight Scanner: Dean Little, Giovanna Pereira, Eryka Murphy, Pranim Magar, Sim Dy, John Kilgo
  11. InstaBlood: Rohan Girase, Sameer Khan, Apruv Mager, Omkar Salunke
  12. InstaFreeze: Lucas Kessler
  13. IVC Clot Filter: Alexander Anthony
  14. LoreBooks: Alan Foster, Hannah St. George
  15. Mountain Bike Hazard Training: Anirban Mookherjee, John Cavalieri, Nicholas Conlon
  16. Open Source Bioprinting with Curriculum: Stephanie Stroll, Siddhant Iyer, Venkatesh Manikantan, Christianto Putra, Balaji Sathyamoorthy, Kreg Kaminski
  17. Operation250: Danielle Thibodeau, Jaime Keenan, Jonas Pierribia, Nicolette Sam Clemente, Tyler Cote
  18. Project Starfish: Travis Kessler, Christopher Johnson, Gregory Dorian, Maxwell Roy, Roma Aurora
  19. Qbell: Gao Gao, Jeremy Arzuaga, Renee Vigneault, Steph Wilson
  20. Safe Guard: Esther Mawhinney, Olivia Musialowski, Jack Naman, Narasimha Reddy
  21. Sensor Platform for Drone Search and Rescue: Kyle Stuart, Vinh Pham, Yomar Salazar, Austin Stevens
  22. Share the Sound: Chanelle Cruz, Denise Brito, Martha Robertson, Tyler McMillan, Andrew Schuster
  23. Smart Masks: Shaun Sichoumphonh, Charles Tran, Brian Horman, George Kubai
  24. Spread the Love: Autumn Sacramone, Julie Bornstein
  25. Stranger Eat In: Hung Nguyen, Tan Huynh, Thanh Hoang
  26. Textrade: Christopher Tribou, Daniel Santos, Frank Kamayou, Brittany Morris
  27. UML Green Roofs: Kierra Walsh, Meagan Timmins, Mike Rivers, Rachel Papazian
  28. Uneefy: Yaovi Ayeh
  29. UTEC Mattress Recycling: Gerry Casaletto
  30. Value Investing: Nathaniel Friedman
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UMass Features Nonspec!

Nonspec is Truly Making a Difference! 

The 2013 Campus-wide DifferenceMaker team, Nonspec, has been working diligently on developing low cost, adjustable, expandable prosthetic limbs for children in developing nation’s. Since being awarded $5,000 at the 2013 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge, Nonspec has gone on to raise over $250,000, secure a patent, and travel to India twice, to being product testing.

This hardworking DifferenceMaker team is a wonderful example of what UMass students are capable of. Nonspec is now being recognized by the UMass System for the positive impacts they have had and are making on the community and world. UMass is very proud of what these students are doing and has featured them on their website and in a promotional video! This team is truly an example of what UMass students are capable of. Co-founder of Nonspec, Erin Keaney remarks, “What we learn at UMass really can contribute to larger global solutions.” UMass students are here to make a difference!

Thank you for making a difference in the world, Nonspec!

Nonspec team, from left to right: Jonathan de Alderete, Erin Keaney and Brendan Donoghue

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Team BASH Goes to Haiti

Written by BASH member, Nicole Belanger. This is a summary of her and Maureen Kelly’s trip to Haiti on January 15 – January 22, 2017.

BASH students who participated in this trip: Nicole Belanger, Maureen Kelly, Laura Magee and Mike Stockwell.

BASH’s Journey to Haiti! 

A biodigester is a device that converts waste (human, animal, etc.) into methane gas and slurry. With Haiti’s lack of sewer systems, the spread of disease from a polluted water supply is incredibly common. The biodigester provides a way to cure the sanitation problem, as well as producing two valuable bi-products. The methane gas can be used as an alternative fuel source (i.e. for cooking or refrigeration), which is a more cost efficient source than diesel and other types commonly bought in Haiti. The slurry is no longer harmful once micro bacteria break down all the harmful elements through natural processes. The slurry can be used for fertilizer, as farming is one of the most common sources of income and food for families in Haiti.

On Wednesday, Maureen and I went to Project Hope (Pwoje Espwa), an orphanage located in Les Cayes, Haiti. We met with the director, Cameron Parker, about an existing biodigester located on the site.There is an existing biodigester that was connected to two showers and two bathrooms previously. Unfortunately, the amount of use at those sites was not as frequent as it should have been and not enough substrate was being produced. We knew at this point that this was going to be a rebuild project. This meant we were going to have to find the perfect site to build a new one because the existing one was not a good option. After speaking with Cameron, he told us that the Haitian culture would not accept using human waste as an input, but wouldn’t be opposed to using pig/cow manure for fertilizer. He suggested that we use the pig waste from the pigs located at Pwoje Espwa as an input product and we could build a new biodigster near the pig pens. There were approximately 20 pigs on site when we were there. Currently, the pig waste is pushed out of a tiny pipe located on the side of the pens, and it falls into a hand dug trench. From there, workers can move it and compost it in the composting pile located right next to it. Although these were not the results we were expecting, it was nice that Cameron gave us truthful answers and provided us with an alternative solution/plan for the biodigester.

Cameron also asked us if we would be willing to design a septic system for new housing units he is putting in. We, of course, accepted. Students in Civil Engineering, Kayla Dooley, Owen Gannon, Alanna Grondine, and myself, as well as other active BASH members, are planning on turning this project into our senior capstone.

Our team is already brainstorming the designs and materials we will need to fulfill his request for a pig waste biodigester. We are excited to take on this challenge and help Haiti in as many ways as we can!

Here are some pictures we captured on our trip:

A picture of the existing biodigester at Pwoje Espwa (Project Hope) located in Les Cayes surrounded by overgrown banana trees.

The engineering team in front of the pig stalls. In front of the team is the composting pile.

Here you can see the small pipes that the pig waste travels through and the trench that it stays in until the farmers are ready to compost it.

One of the student’s favorite meals; white rice, mixed vegetables, conch in a delicious sauce, and potato fries – All homemade! Top it off with some fresh juice and we were in heaven. The conch was interesting to try especially because we found so many conch shells at the beach! It was SO TASTY!!

International student, Ralph, and UML alum, Maureen, looking at the destruction in Port Salut after the hurricane. It was very sad and emotional for those like Ralph who knew what the area looked like before the destruction.

Students got to enjoy a beach day at a beautiful beach in Port Salut. It was very clean and the water was like bath water and crystal clear. It was the perfect way to end our trip. Unfortunately, most of the scenery around this beach was greatly altered or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, as this was one of the hardest hit areas.

The staff and students at the Haiti Development Studies Center together with staff and students from UML. Pictured here; Back Row (from right-left) Nicole Belanger, Mr. Adme, Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Anus, Dayana (international UML student), Maureen Kelly, Ralph (international UML student), Professor Giles, Mike Stockwell. Front Row (right-left) Ms. Olna, Laura Magee, Professor Joseph, Professor Weeden, Ms. Innocent. Not pictured: Connie Barna, director of the HDSC in Les Cayes and camera woman for this picture.







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2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit – Hack Your Creative Culture!

by Stephen Kender

From June 22nd to June 24th, I was invited to attend and help facilitate a workshop at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Hosted by the White House, this summit brings together hundreds of innovators from all over the world, and is held in a different location every year. This year, President Obama brought the event to the heart of Silicon Valley at Stanford University, a place known globally for its ability to cultivate incredible entrepreneurial talent.


I was invited through the University Innovation Fellows program, an organization dedicated to spreading entrepreneurship throughout higher education, who are based in Stanford University. Their training connects university students across the continent and empowers them to be effective agents of change on their campuses, putting a special focus on working with administrations and communities to create cultures and landscapes that spur the next generation of big thinkers. The program is in its 5th year and is 600-strong (and counting). I went through the training this past year and have already benefitted incredibly from it, starting the university’s first hackathon (called Hawkathon) and being more aware of the ways I can help my university flourish.

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The program submitted a proposal for a workshop to the State Department titled “Hack Your Creative Culture” in partnership with the Stanford and Google. The event emphasized the idea that students and young entrepreneurs have the abilities to reshape their nations academic, industrial, and community organizations, and it is up to those communities and institutions to cultivate the skills and mindsets necessary for them to be changemakers. It challenged attendees to imagine how they would go back to their homes and design a culture that spurs such boundless ideation and creativity and brings out the best in their nation’s entrepreneurial talent. The program then invited 10 University Innovation Fellows to help facilitate the event, and I was honored to be among those selected.

The workshop was laid out in 4 major segments – people, place, process, and purpose – which are important to keep in mind when designing a culture for creativity and innovation. Each segment of the event would include activities and presentations from the Fellows in the unique form of ignite talks. Ignite talks are pitches of ~15 slides which automatically advance every 15 seconds. This means that the presenter has to distill their message down to the core concepts, which is beneficial to the learning of both the presenter and the audience.

My talk was about place, and it was titled “Thinking Like Birds: Spaces for Creativity”. Weird, right? After lightly confusing my audience for the first 45 seconds as I talked about space design, I made the connection between birds and people on the creative process. Like birds, someone looking to innovate needs to find a good spot to create a team and an environment to build their idea. This spot can be called a “branch” and the environment is the “nest” where the idea (egg) can be incubated. When the idea is brought through to market viablility, it is hatched out onto the rest of the world. And much like birds, a true entreprenuer is always looking for the next spot to build a nest. In addition, I spoke to the ability of most birds to be extensively adaptable and incredible problem-solvers, both of which are qualities seen in successful innovators. I then went on to stress the importance that communities and universities build those branches for young entrepreneurs to plant their stake in.

stephen kender

Being able to not only attend but speak at such a presitigious event was completely unexpected yet so exciting. It was invigorating to see my eccentric metaphor stick with people, and the workshop and summit overall were fantastically organized. I feel extremely lucky for having the opportunity to do this, and I look forward to getting everyone on the UMass Lowell campus to start thinking more like birds! It’s a good thing we’re already River Hawks.

To learn more about the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, visit their website here:

To learn more about the University Innovation Fellows program, visit their website here:


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Summer Boot Camp Session 2


In preparation for the second session, all the teams were instructed to target their ideal customers and ask them questions about their product. This would give the teams a greater understanding of their target market’s opinions such as whether they would buy the product, how much they would value it, and their ideas on what could improve the product. When the teams presented at the Lowell Innovation Hub, they introduced their findings and how they plan to evolve with their customers’ feedback. For example, the creator of Security Top, a device to prevent someone from drugging one’s drink, found that his customers would not want to be the only one out of their friends using the device. Therefore, it might be a better idea to sell the product to bars and clubs rather than individuals. After the presentations, Paul Schor a lawyer at Gallagher & Cavanaugh LLP, gave a presentation on intellectual property and the use of patents, trademarks, etc. Within the first week of bootcamp the teams have already made great strides and improvements to their business models!


A big thank you to all of this session’s special guests!

  • Yi Yang, Professor, Manning School of Business
  • Rekha Paleyanda, Director, Office of Technology Commercialization
  • Todd Morgan, Professor, Manning School of Business
  • Theresa Chadwick, EforAll, Program Coordinator
  • Paul Schor, Attorney, Gallagher & Cavanaugh LLP
  • Nancy Saucier, Director, New Venture Development
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