2019 DifferenceMaker® Idea Challenge

Doug Browne represents Sunrise Labs
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The UMass Lowell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship hosted the 2019 Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition on December 4th. Doug Browne, Director of Mechanical Engineering & Design Transfer at Sunrise Labs, UMass Lowell alum and Advisory Board member, participated as a judge and mentor.

Winning teams go on to compete in the Eighth Annual Rist DifferenceMaker $50K Idea Challenge spring 2020.

Learn more about the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, a campus-wide program that engages UMass Lowell students in creative problem solving, innovation and entrepreneurship.


  • First Place Award: $2,500 went to Concussion Sensor, which is a mouth guard with a sensor to detect a concussion while athletes are playing in games
    • Team: Sarah Chennankara, Taviana Franciskato, Devon Hartigan, and Patel Yamikumari
  • Second Place Award: $1,500 went to The Smart Safety Outlet, which is an outlet that interfaces with an app to permit only authorized people to use electrical appliances
    • Team: David HoldBrookSmith, Divyanshu Verma, and Romeo Cayabyab
  • Third Place Award: $1,000 went to Stand-Assist Belt, which is a new design of the traditional gait belt to reduce injuries by providing back and under buttock support to assist nurses in helping patients to stand
    • Team: Kerri Stolberg, Ariya Taraz, Eliza Slocum, and Zachary Rinaldi
  • Best BioMedical Device Award: $1,500, sponsored by Professor Stephen McCarthy, went to Cat Mat, which is a physical therapy mat that simulates walking outdoors to help improve a patients balance and stability, as well as other impairments they may have
    • Team: Michelle Mailloux, Katherine Muise, Nicholas Draper, Travis Cohen, and Tyler Clifton
  • People's Choice Award: $500 went to Team Use-App, which is an app that helps people recycle single use materials.
    • Team: Jennifer Schultz, Bryan Veno, and Joseph Coughlin
  • Honorable Mention: OTDSEES, which is a device that can assist disabled athletes, Scuba divers, trades people, and homeowners with transferring heavy items, equipment or people