UMass Lowell Hawkathon | Friday, March 26th – Saturday, March 27th

UMass Lowell held its first Hackathon on Friday, March 25th starting at 5p.m. The problem-solving competition lasted until Saturday, March 26th at 7p.m.


Over 80 participants from several schools, including UMass Lowell, MIT, Simmons, Wellesly, RISD,Olin, WNE, Brandeis, and many more attended and worked in teams to solve problems that matter to them. A number of different companies sponsored the event and networked with students before the event started. 78 participants made it to the end of the competition. Winners of the competition were awarded 6 prizes in 4 different categories. Nearly $10,000 worth of prizes were awarded, $6,000 in cash and $4,000 in additional prizes!

Graphic In Numbers

Most Technically Complex: Robo Gym Metal Cobras
– Team Members: Josh Smolinski, Tyler Alterio, Hannah Gorman, Eric Marcoux, Yuetlong Leung
– Innovation: Gear Pong – Cell phone-controlled beer pong playing robot
– Award: $1000 + $500 Kloudless API Credit

 Biggest Community Impact (1st): Cardanos
– Team Members: Alex Pereira, Shawn Persaud, Shen Gao, Rodrigo Toste Gomes
– Innovation: Multilingual chat platform to increase connectivity across the globe
– Award: $1000 + 4 Dell Venue 10 Tablets

Biggest Community Impact (2nd): Just Cheese
– Team Members: Tony Ventura, Yusuf Yildiz, Samir Khoulani
– Innovation: Text message service to increase usability when dealing with SiS
– Award: $1000 + 3 Months Membership for the Innovation Hub

 Biggest Community Impact (3rd): Awkward Coders
– Team Members: Emma Morrison, Hannah Pastagal
– Innovation: App connecting volunteers to non-profit organizations
– Award: $500

Best Internet of Things Innovation: A Tribe Called Success
– Team Members: Andy MacGregor, Jeff Amari, Iman Nandi, Thomas Hsu
– Innovation: Low-cost text message-controlled door lock to make keys/RFID tags obsolete
– Award: $1000 + 5 Myo Armbands

Most Revolutionary Idea: Mocha Thunder
– Team Members: Michael Bowe, Cullin Lam, Son Nguyen, Bunchhleng Soth
– Innovation: Smart fridge application that knows what’s in your fridge, creates recipes, and notifies you of expiration
– Award: $1500


Thank you to everyone who supported the first UMass Lowell Hawkathon! From faculty to staff and sponsors, it could not have been as successful without your support. The team looks forward to running another one again soon!

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Idea Challenge Semifinalists

Congratulations to the semifinalists for the 2016 Idea Challenge!

AM (American Muslim) Women Magazine
Biodigestor-Aided Solutions in Haiti (BASH)
Design of an efficient solar tablet for educational usage in a Nomadic population
eNABLE Lowell
Engineers for a Sustainable World: Sustainable Smoothie Cart
Get Girls Going
Happy Heart Cart
▪ invisaWear
Kinder Minds
Portable IV Fluid Warmers
Quick Response Security
Security Top
Teflon-Coated Ear Tubes
Veterans QRF


The semifinalist teams will compete on April 1st in the Preliminary Pitch-off! The winners of that competition will move onto the final pitch of the 2016 $35,000 Idea Challenge on April 13th! Both pitch contests will be held in Moloney Hall at University Crossing at 5p.m. Be sure to come out and support the semifinalist and finalist teams!

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Workshop 4: Delivering Your Rocket Pitch

Our final 2016 workshop was held on Thursday, February 25th, in the Makerspace, Falmouth 102. Director of the DifferenceMaker Program, Holly Butler, introduced guest speaker for the night Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. Professor Tello spoke about the ways in which pitches are developed and presented to judges during the Preliminary Pitch-off and Idea Challenge. He even demonstrated a rocket pitch of his own! Students enjoyed pizza while developing their key pitch points and ideas.


Don’t forget to check on the Semi-Finalist announcement on Tuesday, March 8th! Catch up on all of our workshops and events on our resource page!

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Workshop 3: Developing Business Models

Our third workshop on developing business models was held on Tuesday, February 23rd from 5:30-7:30p.m. in the Makerspace, Falmouth 102. Holly Butler, Director of the DifferenceMaker program introduced Tom O’Donnell, Director of the Innovation Hub. While students enjoyed pizza, Tom spoke about the factors involved in developing business models and how to conquer potential struggles during the process.


Stay in the loop and catch up on updates on our resource page! Also, look for the announcement of the Semi-Finalists on Tuesday, March 8th!

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Workshop 2: Assessing Opportunities and Value Propositions

The second workshop of the 2016 series, Assessing Opportunities and Value Propoistions, was held on Tuesday, February 16th from 5:30-7:30p.m. in the Makerspace, Falmouth 102 on North Campus. Holly Butler, Director of the DifferenceMaker program introduced guest speaker Tom O’Donnell, Director of the Innovation Hub. Approximately 30 students attended the event. During the workshop, students enjoyed pizza and soda while working on an interactive activity to explore the opportunities associated with their projects and each project’s value proposition. Also in attendance were two DifferenceMaker faculty fellows, Deb Finch from the Manning School of Business and Stephen Johnston from the Francis College of Engineering. Tom O’Donnell wrapped up the workshop but showcasing two prototypes developed from ideas and pulled the workshop together by emphasizing the importance of knowing a project’s opportunity and what value that project brings to potential customers.


The workshop materials will be on our resource page within the next few days. Feel free to review these materials if you could not attend or need a refresher!

Please attend our last two workshops next week!

February 23 – Workshop 3: Developing Business Models, Guest Speaker Tom O’Donnell
February 25 – Workshop 4: Delivering Your Rocket Pitch, Guest Speaker Steven Tello

All workshops will be held from 5:30-7:30p.m., in the Makerspace, Falmouth 102 on North Campus. Pizza and soda will be served!


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Workshop One: Identifying Problems

Our first workshop of the semester was held on Thursday, February 11, in the Makerspace located in Falmouth Hall 102, on North Campus! During the workshop students collaborated to identify the problems that they are interested in solving. Guest speaker Nancy Saucier, Director of New Venture Development, spoke about12742734_1122013991177816_664044987347008288_n the process of identifying the roots of the problems being solved. Students worked together to dig deeper into their potential problems and develop a greater understanding of what exactly it is that they are trying to solve with their DifferenceMaker projects. Students participated in an activity where they were able to brainstorm and discuss their ideas with each other.

Don’t forget to join us for the rest of our Workshop Series!

All workshops will be held from 5:30-7:30p.m., in the Makerspace, Falmouth 102 on North Campus.

February 16 – Workshop 2: Assessing Opportunities and Value Propositions
February 23 – Workshop 3: Developing Business Models
February 25 – Workshop 4: Delivering Your Rocket Pitch


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2016 Idea Challenge Kick-off and Idea Hack

DifferenceMaker’s 2016 Idea Challenge Kick-off and Idea Hack was held on Thursday, January 28th in Moloney Hall at University Crossing. We were expecting around 50 guests and nearly 100 attended! This included students, faculty, and staff. The event turnout was amazing! Guests enjoyed refreshments while networking with other attendees from the six UMass Lowell colleges.

Professor Steve Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney kicked off the evening by introducing the DifferenceMaker Program, as well as the 2016 4th  12524037_1114454268600455_6607906130671311564_nAnnual $35K Idea Challenge. Following the introduction, Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiative Project Director, interviewed a panel of real-life DifferenceMaker teams. The two teams that participated in the panel were Playable Therapy, represented by Mark McGrotty and Hannah St. George and Zhuum, represented by Andy Lau and Darin Eidens. Attendees also had an opportunity to ask the student panel their own questions.

Next, guests broke off into groups that were formed on problems they wanted to solve. At the beginning of the event, each student wrote down a problem they wanted to solve12508738_1114455138600368_5481223707337916415_n. These problems were then categorized into similar groups. These groups focused on specific areas such as education, innovative technologies, global warming and climate change, and more. In these groups, team members worked together to clearly identify problems. Then each group had the chance to pitch their problems. Next, students began to think about possible solutions to solve those problems. Most students stated that they wanted to apply to the Idea Challenge with these problems and ideas.

The Kick-off and Idea Hack was a wonderful event where creative minds worked together on real-world problems.

Announcement: Please apply to the 2016 Idea Challenge by this Friday, February 5th!

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