Minds Run Wild at 2015 Imagination Quest

Dan Soderberg, vice president of Compass Ion Advisors, LLC, acted as a business pitch mentor for the students and served as a final presentation judge.
Dan Soderberg, vice president of Compass Ion Advisors, LLC, acted as a business pitch mentor for the students and served as a final presentation judge.

by Daniel Fetsko ’19 CE


Thirty-six students. Five teams. Twenty-four hours. The goal? To come up with an idea and develop it into a product or service with a comprehensive design and business plan, in order to present it to a panel of judges in the “Cat Cage” at the end of those 24 hours. The reward? In addition to prizes for the top three finishers, all participants gain valuable experience working as a team to achieve a common goal. Welcome to Imagination Quest (IQ) 2015!

24-Hour IQ began at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 14, with students organizing themselves into teams, and ended at 1:00 p.m. the next day with presentations to the judging panel. Sponsored by Villanova’s Engineering Entrepreneurship program through the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN), the 4th annual IQ once again attracted a variety of students: 21 from Villanova University (19 from the College of Engineering, two from the Villanova School of Business), as well as five Industrial Design graduate students from Philadelphia University, and 10 engineering students from the University of New Haven (UNH).

The event begins with each team spending time on campus to observe and identify opportunities where they could design a product or service to benefit the everyday user. After coming up with three different ideas, teams traverse the campus once again, this time to ask students, faculty and staff which product they think would be the most useful. After eliminating one of the three ideas, the final task on Saturday is for each team to prepare an elevator pitch for the judges, which is literally delivered in the elevator of the College of Engineering Education and Research building. Teams then select the idea they will proceed with, based on the judges’ feedback. On Sunday, the students build prototypes and develop logos for their product before participating in a trade show to market their idea. Lastly, each team enters the “Cat Cage” —Villanova’s own version of “Shark Tank”—to make one final presentation to the judges who then decide the winners.

Members of “Team C++,” which took first prize: Thomas McEleney ’17 ChE, Robert Schmicker, University of New Haven sophomore; Patrick Lentz ’17 ChE; Marisha Gogolowski, Philadelphia University graduate student; Peter Paralikas ’18 ECE; and Matthew Sheehy, University of New Haven freshman.  Also on the team but not pictured is Matthew Pak ’17 ChE.
Members of “Team C++,” which took first prize: Thomas McEleney ’17 ChE, Robert Schmicker, University of New Haven sophomore; Patrick Lentz ’17 ChE; Marisha Gogolowski, Philadelphia University graduate student; Peter Paralikas ’18 ECE; and Matthew Sheehy, University of New Haven freshman. Also on the team but not pictured is Matthew Pak ’17 ChE.

This year’s winner of the $600 first-place prize was “Team C++” with their idea, “Solar Connection,” a solar-powered charging station that would also serve as an advertisement for campus events. Team members included Chemical Engineering juniors Patrick Lentz, Thomas Mceleney and Matthew Pak; Peter Paralikas ’18 ECE, two students from UNH, and one from Philadelphia University.

Winning $300 for second place was “Team Emprise” with their product “Einstein,” a personal study system. Members included Villanova juniors Jay Adams ME, Courtney Cona ME, Peter Sinesi ChE and Nicholas Zoccoli CE, along with two UNH students and one Philadelphia University student.

Lastly, the $150 dollar third-place finishers were the “Dirty Dogs” with their idea “Pop Up Picnic,” a line of pop-up outdoor furniture. “Dirty Dogs” was comprised of Yeray Lopez ’19 ECE, Mary Kate Stromberg ’17 ME, Alex Agpaoa ’19 VSB, Jennifer Courier ’18 VSB, and three additional students from UNH and Philadelphia University.

Ed Dougherty, director of Engineering Entrepreneurship, coordinated and planned the majority of the competition. Additionally, Amanda Kelly, the program coordinator for KEEN, helped organize the event. She specified the addition of Philadelphia University students as a huge benefit over last year’s competition, saying, “The knowledge that these students brought to the competition was really powerful and it was great to have so many different kinds of students working together on one project.”

The Villanova Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute and the Beyond Ideas committee also helped to oversee the progress of the competition. The ICE Institute aims to grow students’ interest in entrepreneurship and provides an environment in which they can develop their ideas. ICE Institute Director II Luscri particularly enjoys the multidisciplinary aspects of the IQ Challenge: “My favorite part is seeing the students take their different disciplines and expertise and mash them into one amazing idea as a team.”

Another goal of the IQ event is to get students even further out of their comfort zones by participating in the Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition (VSEC) during the spring semester. Kelly states, “In the past, several teams have gone from IQ to VSEC and we always hope this competition will spark a spirit of innovation, which students can carry through to other opportunities at Villanova.”