Success Stories

Since academic year 2005/06, the UMass Innovation Challenge has awarded over $500,000 in awards, supplied by private donors, to 65 different student-led teams. The following success stories represent a sampling of the past participants of the contest who either executed their business plans upon graduation or entered the workforce bringing new ideas and high energy to their jobs.

Samuel del Pilar

Team Sneakers for Success

Competed in the 2011/12 UMass IC

Sam del Pilar is a social entrepreneur and Founder/CEO of Sneakers for Success (S4S) http://sneakers4success.org. He also just landed a full-time job with Reebok!

S4S uses sneaker culture, urban lifestyle, and footwear design as a platform so students can discover their intuitive creative powers in solving problems. It is a 12 week curriculum program that takes students through the process of how a sneaker is made emphasizing design, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, and marketing/ communication. Sneakers are an element of our youth's lifestyles- sport, music, fashion, art, everything! Throughout the 12 weeks participants examine sneaker culture and the footwear industry from many different elements that include but are not limited to the historical and social influences of sneakers, powerful marketing campaigns, footwear design and production, and the engineering behind footwear. The use of sneakers keeps the students engaged and connected to the standard school material as well as exposing them to ways they can transform their passion into anything. Overall, S4S gives every student that SOLE POWERTM needed to achieve anything.

Dr. Alaina Hanlon

Team Condition Engineering

Competed in 2006/07 UMass IC

Alaina Hanlon is President & CEO of PhenotypeIT, Inc. a company that provides health and wellness software solutions to help individuals and organizations better identify and manage chronic health issues. Dr. Hanlon is responsible for translating strategy into operations and aligning operations for optimal value creation.

Prior to PhenotypeIT, she co-founded Condition Engineering, Inc., a technology firm specializing in the design and implementation of Condition & Structural Health Monitoring Systems, and has worked for organizations such as NASA, General Electric, and Nichols Portland. Throughout her career, Dr. Hanlon has received numerous awards and recognition for her work in the area of engineering, entrepreneurism and innovation including the 2010 UMass College of Engineering Outstanding Junior Alumni Award.

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