College of Engineering Students Win All Four Prizes in the UMass Tech Challenge
On November 6, four College of Engineering students swept the $15,000 in prize money for the campus-wide UMass Tech Challenge, and the winners were announced on November 14 at the Innovation Challenge Academy Awards night in the Old Chapel. The first-place winner of the $8,000 prize was Ph.D. student Babak Mirzapourbeinekalaye of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department with a project called Beyond (Meta Lidar).
As Babak explains about his first-prize-winning project, “I present a prototype of a compact, cost-effective, solid-state, light-imaging, and ranging system. The proposed lidar system leverages two groundbreaking technologies developed within the UMass photonics laboratory: an efficient wide-angle meta-lens and a densely packed 2D array of semiconductor lasers. The proposed lidar system offers several distinct advantages compared to the state of the art. It is notably thinner, consumes less power, boasts a broader field of view, provides superior spatial and depth resolutions, and can be manufactured at a lower cost.”
The second prize of $5,000 went to undergraduate Molly Costa of the Biomedical Engineering (BME) Department for her RamCore project. As Costa explains, “Have you ever experienced shooting pains throughout the arches of your feet, joints, and lower back after a long day? At RamCore, we are developing orthotic shoes to keep you doing the activities you love while relieving your pain with the power of bioinspired design.”
Undergrad Devan Yarberry of the BME department took one of the honorable-mention prizes of $1,000 for PulsePal. As he says, “The PulsePal is a pulse oximeter designed by the UMass MedTech team to increase the amount of time the device will remain attached to a child's finger.”
The other honorable-mention prize of $1,000 went to ECE undergraduate John Dale for his project called Valis. As he explains with his pitch, “Valis enhances trust in digital media by integrating with platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to add visual indicators and relevant context based on how an image was created and modified.”
The two alumni donors for the UMass Tech Challenge were entrepreneur, investor, and mentor Steven Luby of Waltham, Massachusetts, and Ken Brown, the vice president in the Data Platforms Group of the Connectivity Group Packaging at Intel Corporation, who lives in Tempe, Arizona.
The UMass Tech Challenge was fortunate enough to feature three expert judges: former College of Engineering Entrepreneur in Residence and lecturer Eric Crawley; Steve Gordon, who has led large global engineering teams at Amazon, Broadcom, and Siemens; and Ian Godine, the CEO and technical cofounder of the sustainable-waste-collection company rStream.
The College of Engineering, in partnership with the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, sponsors the UMass Tech Challenge, a competition focused on technology innovation and open to all UMass students. Accepted innovators each pitch an idea or prototype to a panel of esteemed judges. Competitors receive feedback and may win a prize from the pool of $15,000. (November 2023)