University News

Colleges of Business and Engineering Students Achieve Innovation Awards

Published: April 01, 2021 | Categories: All News, Engineering, Business
Glowing light in man's hands

Student teams from Western New England University's Colleges of Business and Engineering have been recognized for their innovation achievements at the Draper Competition and Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

"This year we have representation from both business and engineering students who honed their innovative skills through the University's Product Development and Innovation course, which features cross-functional teams who take an idea through to a limited functional prototype in one semester," says Associate Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship Dr. Mary Schoonmaker.

College of Business students Kyra Palumbo, Sami Dion, and Lauren Mangiaratti, teamed with College of Engineering student Joe Aberdale to develop EZ Stride, a self-tightening sneaker that helps adults with limited mobility increase independence, confidence, and self-sufficiency when dressing. EZ Stride has earned a position in the Draper Competition semi-finals and has been awarded a Grinspoon Spirit Award. This project has continued as a College of Engineering Senior Design project.

The annual Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs is designed to hone the skills that undergraduate women need to advance from idea to venture creation. Through multiple rounds of competition, students demonstrate an understanding of a problem, why the problem requires a new venture to address it, and how their idea presents the best solution to the problem.

College of Business student Aurora Axiotis will be representing Western New England University at the Grinspoon Elevator Pitch competition to be held April 28. She will be pitching her innovation project, Soter System, which is a safety product duo that protects and alerts users in times of danger or fear. This project has also earned a Grinspoon Spirit Award.

The Elevator Pitch competition is part of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's Entrepreneurship Awards Initiative whose mission is to encourage entrepreneurial activity in the Pioneer Valley by fostering an educational environment among participating colleges and universities that informs, supports, and inspires students, and by recognizing and awarding students who display entrepreneurial spirit. The Elevator Pitch is a timed presentation of an idea that is both doable and marketable. The Entrepreneurial Spirit award recognizes entrepreneurial spirit. Recipients must have substantially started a business.

Solar Panel Snow Plow was also the recipient of a Grinspoon Spirit Award. College of Business students Matt DiBattista, and Morgan Smith, teamed with College of Engineering students Joe Wetzel, Austen Metsack, Rebecca Shannon, and Sam Draper to create this innovation, which is a device used to increase solar power generation in the winter by removing accumulated snow from the panels with an automated wiper.

"Both the Draper Competition and the Grinspoon Spirit awards recognize and celebrate young innovators," says Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Glenn Vallee. "More importantly, competition and awards help our students build their entrepreneurial mindset and collaborative team building skills which are critical for success in career objectives."

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