Graduate Researchers to Test Their Entrepreneurial Pitching Skills in WPI Competition on April 22

12 Master's and PhD Students, the Finalists from a Campuswide Competition, Will Compete for Cash Awards as they Present to a Panel of Distinguished Judges
April 17, 2013

Image removed.

A campuswide competition that encourages graduate researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to think and present like entrepreneurs will culminate in an event from 3 to 5 p.m. on Monday, April 22, 2013, in Alden Memorial in which 12 finalists will make three-minute pitches to a panel of distinguished entrepreneurs and business executives. Three winners will receive cash awards to apply toward their innovative research.

The competition, known as "i3: Investing in Ideas with Impact," was created to help students think differently about the value of their research projects, according to Richard Sisson Jr., dean of graduate studies at WPI. "This competition is all about translating research into value and real-world impact," Sisson said. "We want our graduate students to consider how the ideas and innovations they are developing through their research could become the foundation for new products, new commercially valuable processes, and even new companies."

The competition began this past winter with elimination rounds organized by WPI's academic departments and programs. The winners from those contests advanced to semifinal presentation competitions run by the deans of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and the School of Business. On April 22, the finalists (listed below) will compete for three cash awards.

At each stage of the competition, students have made three-minutes pitches about their innovations without the aid of PowerPoint presentations, props, or visuals of any kind. "This format helps students understand that when it comes to attracting interest in their work in the marketplace, it is all about the quality and clarity of their ideas and their passion for them," Sisson said. "That is not how scientists and engineers usually communicate, but I truly believe that being required to distill one's work down into concise, persuasive pitch, which clearly conveys its purpose and benefits, will make one a more effective researcher."

Here are the finalists who will make their pitches on April 22:


Jeanine Gordon, MBA Candidate, "Analysis of the Business Risks and Opportunities of the U.S. Ambulance Manufacturing Industry"

Mei Han, MBA Candidate, "Accommodation Support Pilot Program for WPI Students with Disabilities"

Kamal Natarajan, MBA Candidate, "B2B Market Analysis for ASSISTments Systems"


Todd Alexander, PhD Candidate (Chemical Engineering), "AMPs: Design of a Novel Antimicrobial Titanium Surface"

Cecilia Borgonovo, PhD Candidate (Materials Science and Engineering), "Manufacturing Aluminum Based Nanocomposite Materials by Gas/Liquid Reaction"

Amanda Clement, PhD Candidate (Biomedical Engineering), "Size Matters: Designing ╬╝DERMs to Enhance Tissue Regeneration"

Hajar Jafferji, PhD Candidate (Civil and Environmental Engineering), "Combating Corrosion in Reinforced Concrete Structures using Bioactive Agents and Lightweight Aggregate"

Daniel Nyren, MS Candidate (Mechanical Engineering), "Innovative Concepts for Passively Increasing the Stability of Helicopter Sling Load Payloads"

Martins Zaumanis, PhD Candidate (Civil and Environmental Engineering), "100% Recycled Asphalt Pavement"


Xika Lin, PhD candidate (Computer Science), "PARAS: A Parameter Space Framework for Online Association Mining"

Sarah Runge, PhD Candidate (Biology and Biotechnology), "Targeting Cancer: Defining When a Normal Cell Becomes Cancerous"

Skylar Whorton, MS Candidate (Computer Science), "Filling the Gaps in Math Education"