The Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst recently held the second annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Academy Awards night in Old Chapel, hosting more than 100 students, faculty members, staffers and ecosystem partners in person and via the livestream.

Cash prizes totaling more than $50,000 were awarded to student venture teams who had won pitch competitions throughout the fall semester as part of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Academy programming. Several of the award recipients were students from the College of Engineering.

In the Tech Challenge, a team of four COE students received second place and an $8,000 prize for their project, Glow Safely, which is a low-cost safety alternative that lights the path for vulnerable road users. By using motion sensor technology and LED lights, Glow Safely enables drivers to be more aware of bicyclists and pedestrians in crosswalks and bike lanes. The Glow Safely team is comprised of Angelina Caggiano, MS student in Transportation Engineering, Andy Giaya, BS student in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Efthymia Kostopoulou, PhD Candidate in Transportation Engineering, and Holly Russell, MS student in Transportation Engineering.

Mechanical Engineering BS student Oscar Hennin received third place and $5,000 for his project, SandTronix. With SandTronix, Hennin aims to revolutionize the process of sanding large wooden timber; after gaining the experience of working for his father’s timber business, he developed his plan for creating a robotic sanding device that can safely and effectively sand timber, thereby eliminating human error.

Hennin also received recognition for his work on SandTronix in the Executive Pitch Challenge and the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge—he received the first-place award in both of these categories, receiving an additional $10,000 and $2,000 for these recognitions, respectively.

Computer Engineering BS student Ritik Shah received second place in the Executive Pitch Challenge and earned $4,000 for his start-up project, CardVerse. With CardVerse, Shah is developing a device for automating collectible card authentication and grading, a device which will deploy image processing and computer vision.

In his introductory remarks to the event, Sanjay Raman, Dean of the College of Engineering, described the innovation and entrepreneurship programming as “a tremendous ecosystem on campus, a multi-layered ecosystem, from all of the competition opportunities and academic opportunities, up through the research enterprise and translating lab research into new companies.”

Dr. Sundar Krishnamurty, Isenberg Distinguished Professor in Engineering, added that he was “proud to be among the next generation of innovators in this room. Addressing the student participants in the crowd, he continued: “The challenge most of you face is how to balance your classes with your innovation, which typically falls outside of your classes. Finally, you are here in a place where you are appreciated, you are recognized, and you are welcome. You have a whole community supporting you and cheering you for all the work that you do.”

Read more about the event here.

(December 2022)

Article posted in Student Life