Engineering Students Knock it Out of the Park on Pitch Day

Among the many activities that keep Villanovans busy in the spring semester, Pitch Day is one of the highlights.  Hosted by the Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE Center) at Villanova, this daylong event features presentations from Villanova students participating in the sixth annual Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition, the Mobile Applications Course, and the Entrepreneurship Minor programs. The day concludes with a poster session, engineering trade show, and the announcement and celebration of Pitch Day winners and the 2015 Meyer Innovation and Creative Excellence (ICE) Award recipients.  

Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition (VSEC)
The Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition (VSEC)is Pitch Day’s main attraction. This year, nine finalist teams— six of which included at least one engineering student—presented to an audience of more than 50 alumni, faculty, friends and industry leaders who evaluated their ideas based on benefits, market analysis, financial modeling, plans for development and implementation, feasibility and team presentation skills. Students were given just eight minutes to present and four minutes to answer audience questions.

Chemical Engineering juniors Thomas Iervolino and Devin Good celebrate their first place VSEC win for “Vanquish Ink.”
Chemical Engineering juniors Thomas Iervolino and Devin Good celebrate their first place VSEC win for “Vanquish Ink.”

This year, College of Engineering students made an exceptionally strong VSEC showing, taking first and third places, as well as winning the Halloran Social Entrepreneurship Prize.

First place went to Vanquish Ink for its magnetically removable tattoo ink and related equipment. Team members Devin Good ’16 ChE and Thomas Iervolino ’16 ChE were awarded $5,000 for their promising product, and are pleased with the feedback they received, “Everyone we spoke with was very supportive and we made several valuable connections.” 

This year, College of Engineering students made an exceptionally strong VSEC showing, taking first and third places, as well as winning the Halloran Social Entrepreneurship Prize.
This year, College of Engineering students made an exceptionally strong VSEC showing, taking first and third places, as well as winning the Halloran Social Entrepreneurship Prize.
Juniors Matthew Myers CpE, Sanjit Singh EE and Shawn Vettom CpE present Vivify to VSEC judges; their app took third place.
Juniors Matthew Myers CpE, Sanjit Singh EE and Shawn Vettom CpE present Vivify to VSEC judges; their app took third place.

Sanjit Singh ’16 EE, Shawn Vettom ’16 CpE and Matthew Myers ’16 CpE won third place and $2,000 for Vivify, a wrist-worn device that constantly monitors heart rate and vibrates if it senses the user is falling asleep. Matt, who aspires to be an entrepreneur, says, “The opportunity to pitch an idea to a room full of potential investors was a highlight of my college years!” Given that his team was comprised solely of engineers, Matt also notes, “Going through the stages of the competition made us realize there is so much more that goes into bringing an idea to market, such as legal issues and financial analysis.” 

Freshmen James Hanley ’18 CE and Roque Martin ’18 ChE explain their award-winning concept for Villanova Runs on Holy Grounds.
Freshmen James Hanley ’18 CE and Roque Martin ’18 ChE explain their award-winning concept for Villanova Runs on Holy Grounds.

Finally, Villanova Runs on Holy Grounds was honored with the Halloran Social Entrepreneurship Prize for its proposed use of coffee ground oils for biodiesel. The freshmen team of Roque Martin ’18 ChE and James Hanley ’18 CE also won the VUers’ Choice Award for best VSEC video submission.

Several College of Engineering alumni participated as VSEC judges, including Jack Dellevigne and Roy Delizia, Chemical Engineering graduates from the class of 1964. Both were impressed by the students’ presentations and noted the importance of developing these professional skills. Dellevigne, president of HPG International Inc., says, “It is very important for technically trained undergraduates, whether they be engineers or science majors, to understand how their specialties are used in the economy to create value.” Delizia, a director with Fairmount Partners Investment Banking, adds, “It is a valuable asset to learn about entrepreneurship and, in particular, knowing how to present your ideas in a compelling way.”

Joanna Schaff ’15 ME won the 2015 Meyer ICE Award for the College of Engineering.
Joanna Schaff ’15 ME won the 2015 Meyer ICE Award for the College of Engineering.

Meyer ICE Awards
Presented to five students—one from each college—the 2015 Meyer ICE Award for the College of Engineering was presented to Joanna Schaff ’15 ME. Schaff was recognized for her entrepreneurial mindset and contributions to the University, which include serving as chair of the Villanova student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for three years, mentoring and encouraging underrepresented high school students to pursue engineering, participating in the College’s Girls in Mechanical Engineering Day and running Villanova’s MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) underwater remotely operated vehicle (UROV) competition. Her senior design project, sponsored by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network, presents ground-breaking auxiliary systems for UROVs. At Imagination Quest 2013, Schaff led the winning team in creating an app that provides Villanova students and administration with an interactive platform.

The ICE Awards were created and endowed by Patrick Meyer '74 VSB in honor of the Meyer family (Patrick '74, Edward '86, and C. Paul '30) to recognize a spirit of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship that enhances Villanova University. Meyer ICE Award student winners receive a trophy and a $1000 cash award.

Spring Research Expo

Pitch Day was just one of several events during Villanova’s second annual Spring Research Expo, April 17–24. Each day of the week featured presentations and celebrations that recognized the scholarly achievements of University researchers—undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, as well as the innovative work being done by enterprising Villanovans.

The 2015 Falvey Scholar awards presentation, Sigma Xi Student Research Poster Symposium and Civil Engineering Design Poster Session were among the events that featured engineering students. 

To learn more, see “Spring Research Expo Recognizes Engineering’s Finest.”