Mechanical engineering majors Andrew Wallace ‘16, Michael Torres ‘16, Stefan Wroblewski ‘16, Jezron Basbas ‘16, and Baruch Weiner ‘16 have won top prize in the 2016 Cangialosi Business Innovation Competition (CBIC) for Preventing Injuries, Trauma and Cracks to the Head (PITCH), a lightweight protective device designed to reduce head trauma and skull fractures in baseball players.
The competition, hosted by the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, is supported by Greg Cangialosi ‘96, English, a leading Baltimore entrepreneur. “My goal in creating this competition was to connect our students with mentors who are off campus, actively running companies, or investing in startups,” he says. “It is important for them to know, while they are still in school, that the Baltimore region is thriving as an innovation ecosystem and here to develop and support the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
The CBIC allows students to experience and plan a start-up company, explains Vivian Armor ‘73, American studies, director of the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. “The CBIC targets students who are serious about starting a business in the near future, and the goal is to provide them with mentors, potential seed funding and networking opportunities to help them take their idea to the next level,” she says.
This year, 30 ideas were submitted, and seven of those ideas were selected for the final competition by a panel of judges from various Baltimore-area employers. Business mentors worked with each team to help develop and refine their idea before the final competition was held.
Second place went to an app called SupplySense, which uses sensors to track product inventory in a way that can help business function more strategically and efficiently. The idea was created by Filip Dabek ‘13, ‘14 M.S., and ‘21 Ph.D., computer science.
Third place was awarded to Aerwell, a device that extracts clean, pure water from humidity in the air to provide fresh water and sustainable energy. The Aerwell team includes Alexis Walmsley ‘16, music; Marios Levi ‘19, mechanical engineering; Bedford Boylston ‘16, interdisciplinary studies; Terry Wasserleben ‘17, computer engineering; and Arthur Schorr ‘17, media and communications studies and visual arts.
The top three teams were given cash awards, and membership in Betamore, a Baltimore-based incubator and educational facility, which Cangialosi cofounded.
The prizes themselves are designed to help students explore what it would mean to take their business ideas to the next level. Armor explains that the competition is “meant to be a real world experience to get them thinking about what is involved in planning and launching a business.”
“The CBIC was designed for those students who are truly going to go after the dream of entrepreneurship,” says Cangialosi. “Now, in its third year, it’s exciting to see how alive and vibrant entrepreneurship is at UMBC.”
Image: The PITCH team with Greg Cangialosi, left to right: Michael Torres, Jezron Basbas, Greg Cangialosi, Stefan Wroblewski and Andrew Wallace; missing Baruch Weiner; top. Vivian Armor, director of the Alex. Brown Center of Entrepreneurship; middle. Greg Cangialosi at a UMBC event, bottom. Photos courtesy of the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship (top), and Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC (middle and bottom).