Finalist Teams | 2015 Idea Challenge

Congratulations to the 2015 Idea Challenge Finalists!
UMASS_Difference Makers April 20150353
The following teams will pitch their entrepreneurial ventures in front of judges to win a portion of $35,000 on April 15th from 5:00pm to 8:30pm at University Crossing in Moloney Hall.
  • Buddies Without Borders: A project that aims to bridge the gap between domestic students and international students by starting with an in-person pair up followed by a comprehensive website that allows members to define their profiles and micro-blog by text, photo, and video sharing.
  • Homework Center: A homework center in a poverty stricken town/city such as Lawrence, Massachusetts.The goal is to promote a positive and encouraging environment to encourage students to continue on the educational path and to, therefore, increase the graduation rate while lowering the dropout rate.
  • Hydraulic Walker: An innovative walker that utilizes hydraulics, allowing for the legs to be quickly adjusted, so that it can be used on stairs.
  • Kender’s Body Armor: A project that introduces a novel design for sports equipment using shear-thickening fluids. The materials offer superior impact protection in a thinner and unobtrusive profile and create superior sports attire.
  • Love of the Game: A community outreach program aiming to integrate universities and people with physical and cognitive disabilities through sports.
  • Masela Dentures: A project that aims to develop a fully 3D printable denture system as an alternative solution to expensive dentures manufactured using traditional casting and milling methods.
  • Mayday: This team has created a wearable device connected via Bluetooth technology to a mobile phone, that, when activated, sends emergency alert signals to a list of emergency contacts in an emergency situation.
  • Playable Therapy: A platform of exercises and games that, with the Microsoft Kinect, will allow for motion tracking of a physical therapy patient during their exercise routine at home.
  • Solar Electric Vehicles: A series of low speed and high efficiency commuter vehicles that utilize hub motor technology to allow people to travel using purely the energy of the sun.
  • Word Builder: An interactive toy designed to help children build the foundations of reading at an early age. The toy will be an evolutionary system that will grow with the child as they develop the skills necessary to learn how to read.

A special shout out and thank you to all of the judges, faculty fellow, and staff who were incredibly engages and enthusiastic throughout the entire event. We couldn’t do this without you!

UMASS_Difference Makers April 20150381

This year over 40 applicants applied to the Idea Challenge, and 25 of those teams move forward to the preliminaries. It was a difficult task for judges to choose only 10 of those teams to move forward to the final pitch on April 15th. Thank you to everyone who applied and participated in the Preliminary Pitch on April 3rd.
All entrepreneurial teams on the UMass Lowell campus are welcome to take advantage of DifferenceMaker’s resources. We welcome teams to connect with us this summer to pursue other funding opportunities, apply to our College Competitions this fall, and to apply to the 2016 Idea Challenge Competition. You can learn more about what we offer and how to contact us here.



Share Button

The Future of Making Things Workshop


Get hands on experience with Autodesk Fusion 360, the next-generation 3D CAD/CAM cloud-based tool 

Tomorrows Engineers, Artists, and Makers will be designing self-driving cars, personalized wearables, and connected devices for the Internet of Things.  Making these future things requires modern tools that leverage new practices such as 3D printing, cloud computing, and digital simulation.  Tomorrow’s tools are being developed today, and this workshop will put them in your hands!

Prepare to make your mark when you graduate and join us for hands-on training on Autodesk® Fusion 360TM software from an Autodesk product specialist.


When: Wednesday, April 8th @ 5p.m.

Where: UMass Lowell – Olsen Hall, Room 102

RSVP: Google Form (Takes ~1 minute)  – Please respond here so that we can have enough pizza

Prior to Attending: Please install and log into Autodesk Fusion 360 on your Mac or PC prior to the event.

At event: Bring your laptop, power cord, external mouse, and creativity!

About Autodesk:

Autodesk, Inc., is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Students, educators and academic institutions have free* access to all Autodesk software including Fusion 360.  Go to for more information.

Presenter: Mike Alcazaren, Application Engineer

Mike is a graduate of University at Buffalo (ME, AE ’12).  As an engineering professional, Mike has experience developing mechanical designs for department of defense applications with Raytheon.  Mike is also on the Engineers for a Sustainable World National Team, as Chapter Relations Director.  Mike is passionate about getting the latest technology into the hands of design & engineering students to help build their technical skillset and build a career solving today’s most challenging problems


Share Button

Apply to the EforAll Pitch Contest & Accelerator!


Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) has two exciting opportunities coming up that will help you take your business or non-profit to the next level! In the past, many DM students have taken part in their FREE programs and have had a great experience. You can apply to both.

All Ideas Pitch Contest | One-day event to pitch your business or non-profit.

  • Win thousands of dollars in cash prizes
  • Get feedback on your idea from industry pros
  • Network with potential investors
  • Deadline to Apply: April 2 @ midnight

More information here.

Summer Accelerator | Twelve-week program to help you take your business or non-profit to the next level.

  • Win $30K in cash prizes
  • Receive personal mentors
  • Take part in workshops from industry experts
  • Get nine months of additional support after the program ends
  • Deadline to Apply: April 30 @ midnight

More information here.

Questions? Email Emil Kuruvilla at


Share Button

Congratulations to the 2015 Idea Challenge Semifinalists!

Congratulations to the 2015 Idea Challenge Semi-finalists!

  • Solar Electric Vehicles
  • Affordable Dentures through Additive Manufacturing
  • Merrimack Walkway Project
  • NetLane
  • Pneumatic Tick Remover
  • Hydraulic Walker
  • IV Site Savers
  • KEnDERS Athletic Body Armor
  • Mayday
  • Integrative Health and Fitness Online Services Platform
  • Word Builder
  • Love of the Game
  • TargetSensor
  • Homework Center to Help Students in Low-Income Communities
  • Early Birds
  • Buster Cast
  • Kinect Ninja Physical Therapy
  • Know your Narcan
  • Everybody’s Everything Project
  • Indoor Gardening Hydroponic System
  • Buddy Project
  • Incubator Initiative
  • 33a
  • Clinomax
  • Space Guard

The next step is for the semi-finalists to pitch at the Preliminary Pitch off on April 3rd in the Saab ETIC building on North Campus from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. The finalists that move on from this event will continue on to pitch their ventures at the Idea Challenge on April 15th in University Crossing from 3:00 to 6:30pm. Good luck all!

We look forward to seeing all DifferenceMaker Teams, even those who aren’t semi-finalists, at our last workshop of the year tonight. The topic is Rocket Pitch Presentations to help teams learn how to pitch their ideas. It will take place in Alumni Hall from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. All are welcome!

Share Button

The Snow Doesn’t Scare Us!

That’s right! Despite the continuous snow days, we have held two well-attended DifferenceMaker events and we will continue with our schedule of events for the spring semester. Tomorrow is the second of our workshop series. The topic for discussion will be assessing opportunities. It will take place from 6:00 to 8:00pm in University Crossing room 158. Below is a full list of our workshop series. For more additional information, click here.

February 11 | 6:00 – 8:00pm | University Crossing rm. 158 | Topic: Assessing Opportunities

February 17 | 6:00 – 8:00pm | University Crossing rm. 158 | Topic: Developing Business Models

February 21 | 9:00am – 12:30pm | University Crossing rm. 158 | Topic: Overview of Workshops

March 10 | 6:00 – 8:00pm | Alumni Hall, North Campus | Topic: Rocket Pitch Presentations

See you there!

Share Button

Spring 2015 Kickoff & Idea Hack

The DifferenceMaker semester has officially begun! We kicked off the semester last night at our Spring 2015 Kickoff and Idea Hack event in Moloney Hall at University Crossing. Over 70 students, varying from freshman year through graduate school, attended. Attendees included students, faculty and staff, from five of the UMass Lowell colleges.

10968473_924130237632860_4662569489754434415_nSteven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and Founder of the DifferenceMaker Program, and Jacqueline Moloney, Executive Vice Chancellor, kicked the night off with a brief introduction to the Program and the Spring 2015 Idea Challenge. Then, Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiative Project Director, interviewed the 2013 and 2014 Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker teams to share with attendees the opportunities that come with winning the Idea Challenge. Afterword, attendees spent time discussing problems they want to solve, and shar
ed some tentative solutions and strategies.

Pizza and drinks were served, entrepreneurial ideas were brainstormed, and teams were built. This is just the start of an eventful, creative, and innovative Spring 2015 semester!

For a full list of Spring 2015 DifferenceMaker events, click here.

Share Button

College Competitions Winners 2014

FAHSS Creative Venture Competition:

The FAHSS Creative Venture Competition took place December 3rd from 6-9pm in O’Leary Library 222 on South Campus. The judges were Glenn Morgan, Co-Founder SkyWorld, Inc., Michael Ratner, CEO of Skyworld, Inc., and Jack Ford, a UMass Lowell alumni.


The Team “May Day”, made up of team members Ofa Liz Ejaife, Alessandro Simone Agnello, and Cibhi SelVen, pitched an innovation to prevent sexual assault and won the competition. They won a top prize of $5000 that was awarded by UMass Lowell alumni Glenn Morgan and Jack Ford, and another $750 that was awarded by the FAHSS department. A total of $5,750 was awarded to the team at last night’s FAHSS event.

Congratulations, May Day!!

The DifferenceMaker Program would also like to recognize the teams that made it to the Finals:

1) 33a – Jennifer Costa

2) Everybody’s Everything Project – Catherine Giunta, Niyah West, and Miguel Landestoy

3) First Call System – Kevin Goddu, and Jeremy Inhaber


MSB & DCU Innovation Competition:

The DCU Innovation Competition took place December 3rd, from 6-9pm in the Saab ETIC Atrium on North Campus. The judges were Jim Regan, President and CEO of Digital Federal Credit Union, David Araujo, VP of Information Systems at Digital Federal Credit Union, Scott Latham, Interim Dean of the Manning School of Business, and Holly Butler, the Director of the DifferenceMaker Program. Professor Steven Tello, Associate Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development of UMass Lowell, MC’ed the event.


“The Bears”, made up of team members Joseph Baglio and Meghan Foster, won the top prize of $500 each, in addition to $200 for making it the finals. The team won a total of $1,200 in prize money. They pitched an idea for a subsection budgeting banking system app for DCU. This app will help DCU clients budget their money into different categories to promote organization and assist visual learners.

Congratulations, The Bears!!

The DifferenceMaker Program would also like to recognize the teams that made it to the Finals:

1) Team Avici – Prajwal Yashasvi and Bharadwaj Balaji

2) UMass Golfers – Stephen Aghiarian, Jonathan Burgin, and Harry Hulme

3) UPlan – Kenneth Rogers and Mikayla Essigmann

4) You Can Sell Time! – Phat Nguyen Bui and Evan Carnevale


Engineering Prototyping Competition

The Prototyping Competition took place December 4rd, from 6-9pm in the Saab ETIC Atrium on North Campus.The final judges were Laura Deming, the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Columbia Tech, Marianne Downing, who is of Counsel with Daly, Crowley, Mofford and Durkee, LLP, Mike Fahey, the Acting CEO of Sensi, Rick Spitz, a technology entrepreneur, and Jack Wilson, President Emeritus of the University of Massachusetts System and University Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, and Innovation. The event was introduced by Professor Steven Tello, the Associate Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, and led by the Engineering Department’s Dean, Joseph Hartman.

The Honorable Mention of $250 went to “May Day”, a sexual assault prevention solution. Team Members: Cibhi SelVen and Alessandro Simone Agnello.



The Third Place Award of $500 went to “Prototooth”, an affordable denture product. Team Members: Casey McRae and Cormac Hondros-McCarthy.


The Second Place Award  of $750 and Fan Favorite went to “Kender Armour”
, a durable and affordable sportswear material. Team Members: Stephen Kender, Laura Kender and Elizabeth Kender.


The First Place Award of $1,000 went to a Hydraulic Walker
, which allows people who use walkers to easily go up and down stairs and be more mobile at an affordable price. Team Members: Peter Klausmeyer and Ryan Andrews.


Share Button

Lowell & Lawrence Celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014

From November 17th to 23rd, over 140 countries around the world will celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014. Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll), UMass Lowell DifferenceMaker, the City of Lawrence, the City of Lowell, and the Northeast Legal Aid are partnering together to join in this worldwide celebration by holding three free events:

Monday, November 17th | “Legal Issues for Small Businesses”

This workshop (held in Spanish) will help you learn about the laws that you will need to comply with in order to maintain your business

Location: Lawrence Public Library. 51 Lawrence Street—Lawrence, MA

Tuesday, November 18th | “Intellectual Property Protection Workshop”

Learn tips on how you can protect your venture’s idea.

Location: UMass Lowell. 31 University Avenue. Kitson Hall #308 –Lowell, MA

Thursday, November 20th: 6pm-8pm | “How Failure Led to My Success”

A panel of successful entrepreneurs will talk about their failures and how it helped them succeed later in their careers.


  • George Peters – Co-Founder of the Kettle Pizza (sold in over 50 countries)
  • Glenn Morgan – Founder of SkyWorld Interactive
  • Tom O’Donnell – Visiting Faculty Member – UMass Lowell Manning School of Business (moderator)
  • More Panelists TBA!

 Location: EforAll Office. Wannalancit Mills. 175 Cabot Street, Suite 100—Lowell, MA

Learn more here!




Share Button

Registration Deadlines Nearing for Fall Competitions

Student Entrepreneurs, Inventors & DifferenceMakers! Don’t miss the registration deadlines for three exciting College–based Innovation Competitions underway this fall! Below are the Competitions:

Digital Federal Credit Union Innovation Contest | Sponsored in collaboration with the Manning School of Business and DifferenceMaker – top prize of $500 per team member (register by Oct. 24).

Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition | $1,000 first place team award (register by Oct. 24).

Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Creative Venture Competition | $5,000 first place team award (register by Oct. 31).

Application and registration details for each competition are available on the DifferenceMaker College Competitions page. If you have questions please contact, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @DifferenceMakerUML. Also, feel free to stop by DifferenceMaker Central at Lydon Library on North Campus (next to Starbucks).

Share Button

Entrepreneurial Speaker Series: Tech Start-ups

Last night, DifferenceMaker kicked off its Entrepreneurial Speaker Series. The topic for discussion was Tech Start-ups. Steven Tello, the Associate Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development and founder of the DifferenceMaker Program introduced the event. Following his introduction, Steven Geyster, Vice President of ESTECH,and Daniel Sullivan, Faculty of College of Engineering, spoke about the challenges and lessons of being involved in tech start ups.


Above is a photo of the speakers, Steven Geyster (left) and Professor Daniel Sullivan (right).

Geyster said that there are four “keys to success” for starting a new business, as listed below.

1)   Protect Your Work: In order to make sure that you aren’t building a business based on something that is already invented, and to make sure that no one can copy your work, you need to research patents and find a way to protect your invention/s. Entrepreneurs can protect their work and intellectual property through Trademark Protection, Patent Protection, and/or Trade Secrets.

2)   Build a Team & Network: Building a team and network is crucial. Geyster credits much of success to networking at events and in his daily life. Also, a crucial part of building a team, Geyster emphasized, is seeking help from a financial advisor that has experience and has some “skin in the game”.

3)   Plan & Plan Some More: Geyster says that as a rule of thumb, everything takes twice as long as you expect, and costs three times more than you initially estimated. He also says that if you want to meet your goals and expectations, you need to have a plan to direct you. Finally, he suggests that entrepreneurs learn practical skills such as accounting, project management, and quality management to help them reach their goals.

4)   Have a Customer Focus: You may have a good idea, but do you know who will pay money for it? Geyster emphasized that getting feedback from as many people as possible is important to improving your product before officially putting it on the market. He also mentioned that ease of use is vital. It doesn’t matter how great your product is; if customers cannot use it easily, they won’t continue to use or purchase it.

Professor Daniel Sullivan concluded the evening by saying that it takes more than just a good product to succeed as an entrepreneur. He told the audience that you need everything from a set of morals and beliefs for your company, to brand development and knowledge of your market.


Above is a photo of engineering students who attended the event.

To see photos from the event, and to stay in tune with future DifferenceMaker events, connect with us via email at differencemaker@uml.eduFacebookTwitter, or Instagram @differencemakeruml.

Share Button