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Two Engineering Teams Make Innovation Challenge Finals

Engineering students make up two of the five teams in the finals of the two-stage University of Massachusetts Amherst Innovation Challenge, to be held on Thursday, April 22, in the Campus Center. Judges will hand out up to $50,000 in prize money and other incentives to the chosen winners among the five finalists in the annual contest. The Innovation Challenge is designed to reward the most promising enterprises conceived by teams of students, faculty, and recent alumni of the university.The event will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in Campus Center Room 1009 and is free and open to the public.

Two teams of engineering students are among the five finalists, and both groups won prize money in phase one of the Innovation Challenge, the Executive Summary and Elevator Pitch competition, held last December 8.

StuffTracker was conceived by a team of four undergraduates from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. They have developed a prototype for a systemto keep track of house keys, mobile phones, and other personal items. The system relies on RFID tags, a receiver to read those tags, GPS, and Smartphones to track possessions or find them when they’re lost.

Precision Slip offers a unique nano-coating technology that reduces the drag on ships as they travel through the water, thus decreasing fuel consumption, cost, and environmental impact. The Precision Slip team includes a graduate student and an undergrad from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, a grad student from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and a Ph.D. candidate in marketing.

The Innovation Challenge is a competition that promotes entrepreneurial brainstorming and planning based on technology and ideas invented by faculty, students, and alumni of UMass Amherst. Interdisciplinary student/alumni teams work on their business plans in consultation with faculty members and visiting industry experts.

The competition is an initiative of the Isenberg Program for the Integration of Management, Engineering, and Science, in collaboration with the College of Engineering, Isenberg School of Management, and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The Innovation Challenge is supported entirely with private funds donated by Eugene M. and Ronnie Isenberg and the following sponsors: Wolf Greenfield; Saint-Gobain; Joseph Bohan; Paul Carney '82; Forge Partners; Eric Janszen '04; Scott Perry '82; Raytheon; Signal Lake; Stephen Dunne '89; Wayne Boulais ’85, ’88; Tom Gray '87; Michael Tunstall '82; Karen Lauter Utgoff Consulting. (April 2010)