Engineering Innovation and Leadership Students Accumulate Over $1,100 in 2020 Competitions
Anahy Diaz | October 29, 2020
Three students from Engineering Leadership (soon to be Engineering Innovation and Leadership) at The University of Texas at El Paso have accumulated over $1,100 for their participation at the El Paso Strong Hackathon, Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce (MLCIC) Studio G Business Competition, and Launchpad Startup Weekend Southwest: Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs (TechStars Startup Weekend).
For their first competition and award, seniors Maximo Gamez, Nain Ortiz and Jorge Valle joined forces on January 31, at the El Paso Strong Hackathon organized by Microsoft and Cyborg Mobile. The objective of the competition was to collectively “hack against hate,” by contributing innovative ideas to build a product or software concept for a greater good. Gamez, Ortiz and Valle won first place and $250 under the “Best of Education Track” category after creating Academic Mate, an app that provides a safe platform for like-minded students to interact and schedule meeting times to reach academic success.
“Student participation in entrepreneurship activities is important because they learn the importance of community building, they learn to identify problems instead of jumping into a solution that really nobody wants,” said Maria Fernanda Fiscal, program manager at UTEP’s MLCIC . “Students are infused with energy and effective methodologies using fun activities to create ideas with purpose.”
The team then moved on to their second event, the MLCIC Studio G Business Competition, which took place throughout August. The event introduced participants to a series of workshops led by subject matter experts on the Business Model Canvas, a strategic management and lean start up template used to develop and analyze business models.
“The MLCIC is committed to engage faculty and student led research at the intersection of business administration and engineering,” Fiscal said. “MLCIC’s core objective is to bring faculty and students from business and engineering together in a learning and research environment in order to discover, develop, and deploy innovations to the world of commerce.”
Participating teams of MLCIC then had to apply their recently acquired knowledge from the model to prepare a business pitch to a panel of judges.
“We noticed that starting and growing a locally owned restaurant is difficult and expensive,” Gamez said. “We designed a machine with software that could take the food one step closer to the customer, by making fresh food on demand exactly when ordered, self-service to reduce chances of disease spread, movable to be easy to set up and replicate, along with customer analytics to allow owners insights on customer retentions.”
The idea placed Gamez, Ortiz and Valle as one of the top three winners of the competition and awarded them an additional $500.
The team’s third competition, TechStars Startup Weekend, took place early October when schools across the United States learned about what it takes to start a company in 54 hours. The three members were joined by international business major, Mia Gomez, and mechanical engineering student, Javier Lopez, to create Study Hustle, a spinoff of Academic Mate.
The project, like Academic Mate, aims to help students thrive in the classroom. Encouraged by the changes and health regulations brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gamez said, “the app removes social obstacles for students who have difficulty integrating into a classroom.” It does this by providing free online student matching services to students to succeed academically. The team received second place and a $400 award prize for their idea.
“These students represent well the spirit and goals of our Engineering Innovation and Leadership degree,” said Roger Gonzalez, Ph.D., chair and professor of the engineering education and leadership department. “They will contribute much to the world and others.”
To learn more about the College of Engineering’s engineering education and leadership department, please visit: https://eel.utep.edu
Disclaimer: Program name change pending THECB approval.