Stevens Institute of Technology’s 2022 Innovation Expo presented a full day of activities, showcasing some of the coolest student-created technology known to humankind, plus products, services, research, artistic creations and business plans.
There was also food, fun, music — and frank advice from a successful alumna CEO.
Rovers and robots, coffee and crypto
The full-day event began with a breakfast reception and the keynote Thomas H. Scholl Lecture from Stevens alumna Ann Fandozzi ’93, CEO of the multi-billion-dollar global asset and management disposition firm Ritchie Bros., who appeared virtually.
"Be true to yourself," Fandozzi told the audience, speaking about the value of perseverance, analytics, curiosity and innovation propelling her career in the C-suite at companies including Ford, Whirlpool and DaimlerChrysler.
"Be honest with yourself about what motivates you. Never stop learning. There are very few things you can accomplish completely on your own — being part of a team, especially one where you can show up as your ‘best self’ every day, will both make you happier and ensure you are successful.”
School of Engineering and Science (SES) projects filled the Schaefer Athletics Center’s Canavan Arena to capacity and occupied additional space in the Gateway Academic Complex and on the Morton/Kidde/Pierce lawn.
Inside Canavan, eye-opening projects included a rover technology that uses fins to gain traction in sandy environments; an ergonomic espresso tamp; sustainable cryptocurrency mining technologies; novel surgical monitors and aids; high-tech bike tires; a real-time sign language translator; animal health monitors; low-cost water filters; a flood-warning mobile app; antibiotics and cancer therapy research — and dozens more.
Just outside Canavan in the Schaefer Center lobby, miniature remote-controlled vehicles wheeled through a tricky racecourse and around obstacles (including a row of 3D-printed ducks) in pursuit of the ultimate prize: lifetime bragging rights as first-ever winners of the new Galois Autonomous Robot Championship.
The robot designed, built and controlled by Matthew Mohamed, Leah Richardson and Sean Tu ran away from the competition, taking the title — and securing the trio a $1,000 cash prize along with those bragging rights.
Light shows, concept albums, live performances
Steps from the athletics center, College of Arts and Letters (CAL) and School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE) projects filled Walker Gymnasium — pop, rock, classical music and electronica; ambient sound experiments; art installations; a new type of synthesizer; audio-visual concept albums; an exploration of tree life; an opioid dose tracker; and more.
Attendees also enjoyed "Silva," a fascinating interactive light-and-sound project designed by Randy Zoquier '22. Visitors entered a circle of lights, selected a concept environment, then controlled the subsequent flow of music and colors with smartphones, sharing the experience together.
A number of CAL seniors rocked out during the lunchtime break, performing live original music on an outdoor stage to an appreciative audience that included Stevens President Nariman Farvardin.
Consulting, wearables, market research
School of Business students presented more than 40 senior design projects in the Babbio Center, in three categories: real-world ndustry clients, entrepreneurial business ventures and research.
One consulting team, for instance, redesigned an intranet for Elmwood Park, New Jersey-based medical testing company BioReference Laboratorie while another consulted for the global reinsurance firm Enstar, automating accounting and cash forecasting processes to improve efficiency. Other teams provided services to business and startups as varied as a New Jersey chocolate shop, a digital publication focused on local news and a shelter for the unhoused.
The team of Nicole Altman, Meghan Douglas, Vanessa Elliott, Andrea Gamboa and Alexis McKelvey were recognized by the business school as top consulting project for their work supplying insights on the use of AI to improve client experiences for a healthcare client and consultant.
Financial industry research projects included timely topics such as an examination of the use of AI in determining credit ratings; analyses and forecasting of cryptocurrency price movements; and investigations of the shocks to equities and bond markets that occurred during the two-year-plus global COVID-19 pandemic.
The team of Jagger Doll, Michael Filippi, Siddharth Iyer, Leonid Maksymenko and Marc Vitenzon was awarded top business research project for their work developing a machine learning-based model to forecast and manage short-term financial market risk.
Several entrepreneurial ventures also originated in the School of Business as senior projects, such as nxty — unobtrusive, anxiety-reducing wristbands designed by a team of five senior women.
The mildly vibrating bands, meant to be worn in pairs and demonstrated on attendees, have been shown to lower stress through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) sensory stimulation, an emerging psychotherapy technique.
"I was already familiar with the EMDR technique and its potential to ease people's stress," said Shannon Giarratana '22, who conceived of the wearable product. "This is a way to use it to help more people in stressful situations, for example when taking exams in school."
“The key to our concept," added Mia Bertuzzelli '22, "is that the assistance is discreet."
River Run Capital, a fintech investment vehicle offering exposure to cryptocurrency and blockchain markets, was awarded top senior business venture by the school. Michael Anthony, John Baldi, Suraj Shah and Bryce Streeper comprise the team.
Bold ideas take center stage in pitch competition
The annual Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition completed the day's activities in the university's DeBaun Auditorium, with ten finalist pitches (from an original field of 45) presenting on stage.
Judges included Stevens alumni Laura Paglione '90, Christine Miller '08 MBA '09, Rita Soni '92, Brian Donohue '11 and Giuseppe Incitti '04 M.Eng. '04, as well as New Jersey State Assemblyman Chris Tully and Tech United:NJ CEO, serial entrepreneur and Propelify festival founder Aaron Price, who once again hosted the competition.
"It's so encouraging and inspiring to see the projects that happen here year after year," said Price. "How incredible it is that we are building these kinds of products right here in our backyard."
Real Time ASL Transcription, a pitch by Brianna Garland, Jayden Pereira and Chloe Sharpe for a new sign-language translation software, took top prize and the $10,000 check presented by President Farvardin and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jianmin Qu.
Second place and $5,000 were awarded to MOD Filter, a team of environmental engineering students proposing an inexpensive titanium dioxide-based home filter to remove lead from drinking water.
Third place was awarded to SuperLU, a mathematical modeling accelerator created by two electrical and computer engineering students, carrying a $2,500 award.
Other finalists proposed AI to improve home and small farmers' crop and greenhouse production; a more comfortable medical implant device; personal hydration tracking software; a virtual reality-based teaching and training platform; meal preparation-assistance technology; AI to monitor surgeries by analyzing sound frequencies; and a novel pediatric cardiovascular monitor.
The day, which was covered by local broadcast media, concluded with a reception held in the Babbio Center atrium and outdoors on the Manhattan-facing East Patio.