October 22, 2015

College Entrepreneurship at its Best at Wentworth Accelerate

On Wednesday, October 21st, 24 interdisciplinary teams from Wentworth Accelerate Innovation + Entrepreneurship Center gathered to showcase their innovative solutions to a variety of different problems. These big ideas on display at Accelerate's Hot Seat event came from students in seemingly unlikely pairs, but while they differed in majors they were similar in their passion for their projects.

One unlikely pair you may not see much outside of a construction site is a mechanical engineer and an architect. But Adam Shapiro, a sophomore in mechanical engineering and Kevin Fletcher, a Masters of Architecture paired up with their swing spring guardrail. Coming from New Jersey, Adam said, he’d always see all sorts of accidents- causing huge traffic delays from the lane blocking. Inspired by this, he started a project in his engineering design class and since he wanted to go further with it, he brought the idea to Accelerate where he reached out to Kevin. Together they have come up with a design that could potentially save thousands of lives, via cushioning systems that protects against three types of collisions.

“Your car might be a bit banged up but that’s a lot less in comparison to a potentially fatal accident. When compared to the system used by NASCAR," Shapiro said, “those systems are meant to stop cars going like 100 miles an hours so they are more expensive and not ideal for a scenario like the side of the highway. This way is a more cost effective system since it is multiuse, and parts can be mass produced easily.”

In their first semester of their first year of college were the team of Joe Collins, Tom Lefavor and Seamus Butler pitched their app they call Wicked. After talking to fellow freshman at Wentworth and friends at other schools, they saw how tough it was for some people to build meaningful relationships in that important first year. “We looked at other apps that are kind of like this but they were too tough to use. We want Wicked to be simple and intuitive, “ said Lefavor.

  Wentworth Accelerate

Kendra Norbaka, Katherine Asciutto, Ryan McGonagle and Myles Harris, a group of skiers and snowboarders, love to hit the trails at night, but found that the overhead lighting provided by the mountain didn’t illuminate the terrain well enough to really read it, which doesn’t make the experience feel completely safe. They’re working on a board and ski mounted light to make night riding much safer.

Along with peer students, there were also supporters from the community present.  Bobbi Carlton who runs Mass Innovation Nights, and Alec Stern, co-founder of Constant Contact, were present chatting to students about their products and services. Many of Accelerate’s teams have launched with Mass Innovation Nights which recently included Cycol, a residential and commercial breathing apparatus to prevent smoke inhalation during a fire emergency. Coming up on November 11th, MassInno will feature Organic Connections, a children’s toy for imaginative play, and ESI, a port that protects against infection for peritoneal dialysis.

Overall, the night was full of energy and buzzing with many people exchanging ideas and advice. It was also full of great visions from the innovators of tomorrow. But don’t just take my word for it; come see it in action! I hang out with these people in Accelerate. I see their progress every time I work on my own projects in the maker space. Come and see it for yourself at our next event!

Stephanie Crepeau is a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology.