Alumni and Donors

Excelling in Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Stevens’ hallmark student competitions – the Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition and Gallois Autonomous Robot Competition – continue to elevate and inspire the entire Stevens community thanks to the generosity of the Ansary and Gallois families. The competitions instill excitement across campus leading up to the annual Innovation Expo and have lasting impact in strengthening innovation, design and entrepreneurship at Stevens to prepare students for future careers and business ventures. 

The Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition is a premier highlight of entrepreneurship at Stevens. The Cy and Jan Ansary Foundation has supported the competition and prizes since 2016 and established an endowed fund in 2018. The Ansary family are prominent lawyers, financiers, entrepreneurs, educators, authors and philanthropists. Student teams pitch their senior capstone projects as startup businesses to industry judges in the high-stakes competition for $17,500 in prizes to continue developing their projects into businesses.

“The Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition highlights the ingenuity, creativity, innovation and teamwork of our students,” said Dr. Jianmin Qu, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. “The competition strengthens the Stevens ecosystem of entrepreneurship and hands-on experiential learning that emphasizes problem-solving, multidisciplinary thinking and teamwork. The innovative projects are a testament to the unique value and success of a Stevens education and demonstrate why our graduates are in high demand by government, industry and academia.” 

Winning top honors at this year’s competition was Maritime Security who took first place for their AI that detects potentially hazardous cargo. The team developed an inspection algorithm using machine learning that targets containers coming into port facilities and flags items for further inspection.

Students pose on stage at the Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition2023 Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition Finalists

“Winning the Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition completely validated me as an engineer and as a hopeful business owner,” said team member Samantha Weckesser, who secured a summer internship with the U.S. Coast Guard to continue implementing the technology. “It has given me the confidence and the connections to pursue my senior design project as a business. I am so excited to see where this work takes me, and I am so grateful to the Ansary family for encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit in engineers.” 

No-Till Drill earned second place for their improved design of a no-till drill that has the potential to increase access to sustainable farming methods. The VoFix team won third place for their wearable device that monitors sounds and motions from a speaker’s larynx designed to improve the monitoring and assessment of voice problems and abnormalities.

The Gallois Autonomous Robot Competition is a hallmark of the first-year experience for Stevens engineering students. Dr. Bernard Gallois, during his tenure as dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering & Science (SES) from 1996-2002, envisioned the eight-course design spine of the Stevens engineering curriculum. Now, through the generous support of an endowment from Dr. Gallois and his family, students compete in the robot competition for cash prizes.

As part of their second design course, students work in three-person teams to build autonomous robots to navigate an arena. Weeks of team-building and hands-on learning culminate with the final robot competition at Innovation Expo, which showcases the best robots built by students, and the top three teams win prizes. The competition fosters teamwork and academic performance and strengthens design, critical thinking and adaptability skills.

Students pose at the Gallois Autonomous Robot CompetitionThomas Fisher, Eli Shtindler and Jacqueline Castro, winners of the 2023 Gallois Autonomous Robotics Competition

“The competition motivates students to learn independently and work together as a team toward common goals,” said Professor Chang Beom Joo, SES mechanical engineering lecturer, who administered this year’s Gallois competition with Louis Oh, engineering laboratory manager, SES Core Education. “We challenge our first-year students, through team building and complex problem solving, to learn critical skills that will benefit them in their academic coursework and ultimately their engineering careers.”

“The Gallois competition was a synergy of energy among university leaders, professors and students,” Oh said. “We all joined together in a fair competition using SES’s engineering playground. We are sincerely grateful to the Gallois family.”

The Ansary and Gallois competitions empower students with dynamic learning opportunities, a competitive spirit, and team-building skills that propel their success as future entrepreneurs and innovators.