UMassD teams among top winners in Techstars' Startup Weekend Competition

Team Gateway Snow earned second place for their design of a new style of snowboard binding & Team ScubNav placed third for their self-titled project ScubNav, a GPS system that enhances divers’ security.

Team Gateway Snow
Team Gateway Snow (l to r): Nathan Lozada; Kyle Sylvia; Joshua Letizia; and Cameron Nataly (Photographer: Karl Dominey)

Each year, UMassD engineering students participate in Startup Weekend, a three-day competition in which student teams pitch a startup idea in 30 seconds. Small teams form a business idea, create a prototype of it, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs. Teams then present to a panel of judges, and the best startups are awarded.

Two teams of engineering students placed second and third in this year’s competition, which focused on sustainable solutions. Participants were tasked with developing ventures that address issues relating to poverty, inequality, climate change, and/or environmental degradation, four of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals listed by the United Nations.

Hamed Samandari (full-time lecturer of Mechanical Engineering) and Adnan El-Nasan (full-time lecturer of Computer and Information Science) advised the teams. “These students joined our College of Engineering entrepreneurship initiative and worked with other individuals on their ideas. We are very proud of our engineering students who are pursuing their ideas and becoming the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Samandari. 

Team Gateway Snow earned second place for their design of a new style of snowboard binding that incorporates many preexisting styles of bindings to create a product that is safer and simpler to use than those on the market. The team is comprised of mechanical engineering students Cameron Nataly, Kyle Sylvia, Nathan Lozada, and Joshua Letizia along with Charlton College of Business marketing majors Jami Ocasio and Elizabeth West.

Team ScubNav won third place for their self-titled project ScubNav, a GPS system connected to a dive float to enhance divers’ security and enable them to pin popular dive sites, points of interest, as well as places with pollution and areas known to be safe for divers. Team members include UMass Dartmouth students Keira Ahern (mechanical engineering), Michael Bisbano (electrical engineering and computer engineering), Avani Ganatra (marketing), and general attendees Emily Berger and Cleber Figueredo.

The global event, sponsored by Techstars, spans more than 150 countries comprising roughly 428,000 participants. More than 500 startups and 15,000 entrepreneurs have been inspired by the competition, according to the company's website.

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