DifferenceMaker Kick Off | September 28, 2016

On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, DifferenceMaker held its Season Kickoff event College Competition announcement! Starting at 5:30 in Moloney Hall at University Crossing, students had the opportunity to hear more about the DifferenceMaker program from Professor Steve Tello.


Students also heard from professionals about each of the three college competitions coming up this semester. Chris McKenna introduced the Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition, Jim Regan spoke about the DCU/MSB Innovation Contest, and Glenn Morgan discussed the FAHSS Creative Venture Competition. Holly Butler, Director of the DifferenceMaker program, then introduced an ideation activity to engage students in entrepreneurial thinking.

At the end of the ideation session, students had the opportunity to network with members of the professional community like mentors, advisors, faculty, and alumni.


The applications for the 2016 College Competitions close on October 31.


Convocation | August 31, 2016

On Wednesday, August 31, 2016, UMass Lowell welcomed nearly 2,600 new freshmen and transfer students at convocation. That is the largest incoming class to date!

DifferenceMaker welcomed new students with a fun and interactive pitch contest where students themselves were the judges! With simple text-voting, everyone attending convocation was able to vote for the team they thought pitched the best! Three DifferenceMaker teams pitched at this year’s convocation.


eNABLE Lowell took 1st place and won $1,500! eNABLE Lowell is a chapter of the larger, national eNABLE organization that helps provide low cost prosthetic hands to children in need.


invisaWear won 2nd place and a prize of $1,000! invisaWear is a wearable device that sits discretely within a piece of jewelry that when activated, alerts predetermined contacts, as well as the emergency services that the individual wearing invisaWear has been attacked and is in danger.


Happy Heart Cart won 3rd place and a prize of $500! Happy Heart Cart is an initiative to help bring fun activities to patients in hospitals. Keeping a mind and heart happy while in the hospital leads to better recovery and shorter stays!

After convocation, DifferenceMaker, along with the three teams that pitched, spoke to students about the program at the tables at Club Fair! Students interested in the DifferenceMaker program were able to ask more questions with our Co-Op students and sign up to hear from our Newsletter! We also had lots of free give-aways and trinkets for students who visited our table!

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Demo Day | June 30, 2016


On Thursday, June 30, DifferenceMaker teams, faculty fellows, alumni, and mentors gathered at the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub for the 2016 Demo Day. Demo Day presents an opportunity for student teams to network with potential mentors and other interested parties. After the networking session, each team presents their project to the audience consisting of many mentors from all different backgrounds and careers. After each presentation, there is also a Q&A period where student teams answer any questions from the audience to help them learn more about the goals of each team. DifferenceMaker staff then help to pair up student teams with willing mentors to help further the DifferenceMaker projects.




Summer Boot Camp Session 4

As the summer boot camp series comes to an end, student teams spent the last session participating in in-depth discussion on capturing value and cost consideration. Teams discussed questions like

  • What are the costs to find customer?
  • What are the costs to make the solution? To deliver the solution?


Teams also had the chance to learn from and speak with a past DifferenceMaker team, Nonspec, who won the Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker award in 2013.


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

  • Yi Yang, Professor, Manning School of Business
  • Nancy Saucier, Director, New Venture Development
  • Tom ODonnell, Director, Innovation Hub

Summer Bootcamp Session 3

The last boot-camp session also yielded great results for teams and advisors. Teams participated in an in-depth discussion about the presentation of their “Solution”, the third step in the DifferenceMaker Method. Each team presented their findings from their homework on Customer and Value Proposition and received comments and suggestions from advisors and fellow DifferenceMaker teams for improvement.


There was also a “Round Robin” Advisory Session where each team was able to spend 10 minutes with each alumni mentor for advice and comments on their project’s business model so far.

We look forward to next week’s session with all of our DifferenceMaker teams, faculty fellows, alumni, and mentors!

A big thank you to this session’s special guests:

  • Yi Yang, Professor, Manning School of Business
  • Rekha Paleyanda, Director, Office of Technology Commercialization
  • Ainat Koren, Professor, College of Health Sciences
  • Anshuman Chadda, Global Entrepreneurship in Residence
  • Josh Entner, Entrepreneur, UMass Lowell Alumni

Summer Boot Camp Session 1

On Thursday, June 2nd, DifferenceMaker teams gathered at the Innovation Hub at 110 Canal St to attend the first session of the 2016 Summer Boot Camp. Teams discussed their projects among their peers as well as several mentors, and talked more in depth about how to target customer markets and get a foot in the door in the business world. Teams will continue to gather together with DifferenceMaker staff and mentors throughout the month of June to further discuss their projects!


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
  • Franky Descoteaux, Executive Director, EforAll 
  • Todd Morgan, Professor, Manning School of Business
  • Ralph Jordan, Professor, Manning School of Business
  • Paul Schor, Attorney, Gallagher & Cavanaugh LLP

Save the Date!

Please save the date for the DifferenceMaker Demo Day and Mentor Matching event being held on Thursday June 30 from 5:30-8:00pm. This event will take place on the 3rd floor of the Innovation Hub located at 110 Canal Street in downtown Lowell.

DifferenceMaker teams will attend a summer boot camp. Then on June 30, they will present their progress, business model and business strategy. Please see our website for a list of DifferenceMaker teams. On the left hand side of the page you will find tabs for the 2013-2016 finalist teams.

These teams will need your guidance, expertise and mentorship after the boot camp. If you are interested in seeing what our student teams are up to and/or want to become a mentor or advisor, please RSVP to Holly_Butler@uml.edu.

I hope that you can make it. I will send out more information as the event nears. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Program Director, 978-934-6444


2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival | April 16 & 17, 2016


Over the long weekend, DifferenceMaker traveled to Washington DC with a group of students and faculty from the Francis College of Engineering and UMass Lowell for the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival. On both Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th, over 120,000 people visited the Walter E. Washington Convention Center where the festival was held. Visitors to the DifferenceMaker table were challenged to find a solution to help students cross the Merrimack River over a map of Lowell. With lots of Legos and creativity, we saw some great ideas!

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We were happy to be a part of this great festival and look forward to participating again in 2018!

2016 Idea Challenge Winners

On Wednesday, April 13th, the 2016 Idea Challenge event was held in Moloney Hall at University Crossing. 10 finalist teams pitched to a panel of judges to compete for $35,000 and many semifinalist teams presented to attendees about their projects in competition for the Fan Favorite award. Thank you to all of our sponsors, judges, participants, and guests! A special thank you to Chancellor Moloney for supporting both the DifferenceMaker program and all of its teams!


Campus Wide DifferenceMaker

eNable Lowell – $6000: A chapter model to help expand eNABLE – an international volunteer organization that produces 3D printed prosthetic hands for kids around the world.


Katherine Bilodeau, Senior, Exercise Physiology
Allison Dunbar, Junior, Exercise Physiology
Kreg Kaminski, Senior, Biology
Craig Kelly, Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering
Peter Larsen, Senior, Biology
Shannon Maguire, Sophomore, Business Administration
Alexander Peters, Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Significant Social Impact

Veteran’s QRF – $4500A web platform that will simplify the application process for Veteran service connected disability benefits. 

Henry DeLima, Alumni, Psychology
Terry Fox-Koor, Sophomore, Plastics Engineering
Brian Holt, Junior, Criminal Justice
Ann McGill, Alumni, Adjunct Professor
David Tetreault, Senior, Management

Contribution to a Healthier Lifestyle

OmniSense – $4500: A specialized device to track the bar path of a barbell when it is in motion. This device will sync to a smartphone so users will have real time access to their lifting data such as bar path and acceleration.

Bolutife Anifowose, Senior, Marketing
Michael Dollogono, Graduate, BioMedical Engineering and Biotechnology
Martin Lee, Senior, MIS

Innovative Technology Solution

invisaWear – $4500: A wearable device that connects to a smart phone via Bluetooth. With the simple push of a button, it sends help messages and location information to predetermined emergency contacts.

Rajia Abdelaziz, Senior, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Erin Graceffa, Senior, Electrical Engineering
Raymond Hamilton, Senior, Electrical Engineering

First to Market

TopaCan – $4500A product – Can Ashtray that turns any empty can into a environmental friendly way to dispose of your cigarette butts. 

Justin Lozier, Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Honorable Mention

BASH – $2000: A new waste management system for the city of Les Cayes, Haiti that would improve the quality of water sanitation while creating job opportunities. 

AgMohd AgmohdTahir, Senior, BioChemical Engineering
Michael Doane, Senior, Chemical Engineering and Biology
Andrew Koplove, Senior, Plastics Engineering and Business Administration
Shaquilla Terry, Senior, Public Health

Happy Heart Cart – $2000: A program that provides advanced therapeutic and holistic practices to improve patient stays in adult hospitals through an activity cart that can either be wheeled between rooms, or stationary and present in every room. 

Irtiza Khtar, Graduate, Mechanical Engineering
MaryKate McDonough, Junior, Business Administration
Olivia Vieira, Senior, Nursing

Security Top – $2000: A reusable bottle cap for the purpose of increasing the prevention of contaminates that enter a bottled beverage. 

Cleveland Atkinson, Senior, Plastics Engineering
Joshua Desrochers, Junior, Plastics Engineering
Travis Goodrum, Junior, Plastics Engineering
Tabatha Ferreira, Junior, Plastics Engineering
Craig Frigon, Junior, Plastics Engineering
Malinna Pheng, Junior, Plastics Engineering
Andy Polanco, Senior, Plastics Engineering
SmartEater – $2000: An Automated Diet Monitoring (ADM) System designed to help people to manage their dietary behavior. 

Yang Gao, PhD, Computer Science

WordPro – $2000: A vocabulary builder – Digital flashcards – aimed at high school students learning a second language. 

Ruban Isagolov, Freshman, Business Administration
Yovaldi Venter, Graduate, MSITE

Fan Favorite

Expect – $1000: An application that facilitates communication between referring facilities/emergency medical services and accepting inpatient/emergency units.

David Machado, Computer Science
Emily O’Brien, Nursing, Senior
Amanda Reardon, Nursing


Also, a special thank you to all of our judges!

– Lorna Boucher, Head of Branding and Strategy, KCG Holdings, Inc.
– Don LaTorre, President, L&G Management Consultants Inc.
– Joan Marchessault, Prinipal and Founder, Strategic Leadership Group
– Rich Miner, General Partner, Google Ventures, Inc.
– Kevin Murphy, City Manager, Lowell
– Brian Rist, President and CEO, The Smart Companies
– Mark Saab, Chief Technology Officer, Vention Medical
– Jack Wilson, President Emeritus UMass System

2016 Idea Challenge Preliminary Pitch-off | Friday, April 1st

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On Friday, April 1st at 3:30p.m., 26 student teams began pitching their ideas to several panels of alumni judges. Of the 26 teams, 10 became 2016 Idea Challenge finalists, who will compete for $35,000 on April 13th.

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Congratulations to Biodigestor-Aided Solution in Haiti (BASH), eNABLE Lowell, invisaWear, Happy Heart Cart, OmniSense, Security Top, SmartEater, TopaCan, Veterans QRF, and WordPro Mobile App!

A huge thank you to the alumni judges — Carly Burson, FAHSS ’05, Rob Busch, John Cadigan, Kennedy College of Sciences ’87, Cheryl Callahan, College of Health Sciences ’82, James Clancy, Francis College of Engineering ’81, Jason Cronin, FAHSS ’94, Lisa Dana, Graduate School of Education ’92 ’01, Janet Dellea, Manning School of Business ’84, Ken Dipoto, Manning School of Business ’78, John Doherty, Graduate School of Education ’83 ’92, Josh Entner, FAHSS ’94, Jonathan Geanakos, Manning School of Business, ’73, Steven Geyster, Francis College of Engineering ’83, Dr. Charles Gobron, Graduate School of Education ’06, Amy Hoey, College of Health Sciences ’88, Michelle Holland, College of Health Sciences ’87, Christopher Ianelli, Kennedy College of Sciences ’89, France Lampron, Kennedy College of Sciences ’90, Brenda Maille, FAHSS ’78, Elkin McCallum, Chris McKenna, Francis College of Engineering ’89, Glenn Morgan, FAHSS ’86, John Norden, FAHSS ’73, Ed Roberts, Graduate School of Education ’89 ’90, Martin Schedlbauer, Kennedy College of Sciences ’88 ’91 ’06, Bhupen Shah, Francis College of Engineering ’92, Andrew Sutherland, Manning School of Business ’94, Jack Swartz, Manning School of Business ’72, Annita Tanini, Manning School of Business ’92 ’00, Anne Veilleux, College of Health Sciences ’85.

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Please join us again on April 13th in University Crossing, Moloney Hall, at 5p.m. to watch and support the 10 finalist teams as they pitch off for $35,000!