A Strong Showing by Engineering Students on Pitch Day

On April 25, 2016, Villanova University held its fifth annual Pitch Day. Hosted by the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute, the main attraction of this daylong event is the Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition (VSEC). The agenda also features demonstrations by students in the Mobile Applications Course, presentations on “Innovation in Public Service” and “Life without Limits—Designing Accessible Programming,” display of the Formula SAE car, and a presentation of the Villanova Summer Innovation Incubator program. Pitch Day culminates in a Celebration of Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, which includes a poster session, engineering tradeshow, and announcement of Meyer ICE Award and VSEC winners.

Quick Connections team members Theodore Hammel ’16 EE and Gus Jenkins ’16 ME mistake their first place VSEC trophy for the Stanley Cup.
Quick Connections team members Theodore Hammel ’16 EE and Gus Jenkins ’16 ME mistake their first place VSEC trophy for the Stanley Cup.

Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition (VSEC)

After surviving VSEC Stage 1 (video pitch and executive summary) and an evaluation of their executive summary/financial model by distance judges, ten finalist teams— four of which included at least one engineering student—presented to a final group of judges on Pitch Day. Vying for more than $10,000 in funding, teams’ ideas were evaluated based on benefits, market analysis, financial modeling, plans for development and implementation, feasibility and team presentation skills.

This year, College of Engineering students took first place overall, and also won the Klingler Unitas, and Halloran Social Entrepreneurship prizes. First place and a $5,000 prize went to Mechanical Engineering seniors Gus Jenkins and Sean McGuire, and Electrical Engineering senior Theodore Hammel for “Quick Connections.” Quick Connections is a 3D printed business card that utilizes Near Field Communication technology to write and read the stored contact information directly into a smartphone. 

Andres Llerena ’16 CpE (far right) was a member of team FreeSpace, which won VSEC’s Unitas Award.
Andres Llerena ’16 CpE (far right) was a member of team FreeSpace, which won VSEC’s Unitas Award.

“FreeSpace” won the $500 Klinger Unitas Prize, which recognizes the team that makes the greatest strides toward incorporating Villanova’s core value of Unitas through a cross-campus perspective. Computer Engineering senior Andres Llerena was part of an interdisciplinary team that developed the FreeSpace mobile app designed to optimize the current room reservation process at Villanova.

The $500 Halloran Social Entrepreneurship Prize was awarded to “Villanova Minus 2⁰c” for an inspiring device that encourages people to recycle their waste and earn money in the process. Developers Saeed Shayestehmanesh and Bahareh Shakibaja are engineering doctoral students. 

Meyer ICE Awards

Presented to five students—one from each of Villanova’s colleges—the Meyer Innovation and Creative Excellence (ICE) Award recognizes a spirit of an innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship that enhances the University. Student winners receive a trophy and a $1000 cash award. The College of Engineering recipient for 2016 is Abigail Buckenheimer ’16 ME.

Amanda Kelly, program coordinator for the Kern Entrepreneurship Program, nominated Buckenheimer, describing her as “a staunch advocate for the spirit of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship that the Meyer ICE award embodies.” Abbey is in the Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor, served as Villanova's first University Innovation Fellow, participated in the 24 Hour Imagination Quest and Android Hackathon, and was involved in the first Villanova Summer Innovation Incubator (VSII). Through VSII, “Team Hemabyte”—of which Abbey was a member—designed a low-cost, portable blood testing unit that can measure the Complete Blood Count (CBC).  The team has taken its successful project beyond just the summer program, and is continuing to move it forward.

After graduation, Abbey will be employed by Harris Corporation in Melbourne, Fla.


Pitch Day was just one of several events during Villanova’s third annual Spring Research Expo, April 15–25, 2016.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 2016 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 “Engineers Receive Recognition for Research.”