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Students compete for travel funds in inaugural pitch competition

The Center for Engineering Action, in collaboration with the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship, held their inaugural Pitch Competition in April. In total, eight teams from the ENGR 395 class participated, representing the Humanitarian Design Corps, Engineers Without Borders and Global Health Design Collaborative. As part of the competition, each team presented a five-minute pitch of their project and design plan in hopes of winning a $1,000 travel fund, generously provided by the Veale Institute.

Competition judges were: 

  • Larry Sears, a Case School of Engineering lecturer and member of the Board of Trustees; 
  • James McGuffin-Cawley, faculty director of Sears think[box];
  • Michael Goldberg, executive director of the Veale Institute; and 
  • Alec Simon, director of startup services at MAGNET Ohio. 

Members of the Case Alumni Association and the office of development also were in attendance. While all of the teams provided stellar presentations, the Global Health Design Collaborative’s “Single Use Disposal of DMPA-SC” (injectable birth control) team won the prize.   

Learn more about all of the final presentations below.

GHDC “Single Use Disposal of DMPA-SC

One of the team’s goals is to develop a cardboard pouch designed to aid in the safe and discrete disposal of a single-unit, self-injected, subcutaneous DMPA- SC (contraceptive) device available in Uganda. The pouch would assist with storage or latrine disposal, be biodegradable, and could contain activated carbon powder to neutralize residual hormones, be puncture-proof, track use, and be small and discreet.  Rhea Krishnan represented the Global Health Design Collaborative in this pitch competition.

Vaccine Backpack Carrier Design

The team’s goal is to create a backpack capable of carrying essential equipment necessary for outreach missions of health care workers in Uganda. It needs to be professional, ergonomic and affordable to ease the burden of these health care workers during their long journeys. Additionally, the team works in collaboration with Makerere University and, more recently, students at Kent State University. CWRU team members involved in this competition include Benji Durning, Paul Herr-Riser and Dylan Rasmussen.


The Pediatric Pulse Oximeter team’s goal is to develop a reusable, hand-held, pediatric pulse oximeter that measures blood oxygen saturation to aid in identification and treatment of serious respiratory diseases. Presenting the pitch were team members Noelle Nelson, Aayush Mokate, Ananya Rangavajla and Matthew Yang.

Powering an Isolated Malawian Village

This team has been working with Kasungu National Park in Malawi to bring solar power to park ranger homes. The park, in an effort to strengthen the relationship with the surrounding community, has expanded the project and asked the team to create a solar-powered charging station that would provide a renewable energy source for the surrounding community. This design will allow community members to charge their devices in secure lockers. Through remote interviews over WhatsApp, community members are playing a role in the design process to ensure the system meets their specific needs. Ultimately, the system will be completely owned and maintained by the community. Team members include Sydney Mountcastle, Eileen Petros and Winston Kam, representing Humanitarian Design Corps.

Cruce de Blanco Water Project

The team’s goal is to install a system to provide safe, reliable drinking water accessible to the entire community of Cruce de Blanco in the Dominican Republic. Their plans include designing a sedimentation box and a chlorinator. Pitch competition team members include Ryan Baladez, Toni-Jospehine Escuadro, Asya Orhan, Yvonne Pan, Quinn Slifcak and Lilian Velez, representing Engineers Without Borders/Humanitarian Design Corps.

The HDC Costa Rica Project

The team’s goal is to develop a systems description and well maintenance manual to help the Las Pilas community in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica to sustain their well as a consistent source of clean, safe, high-quality water. In addition, the community would like to implement a new water well, which would help fix many of their problems, but requires sources of funding. Team members include Abby Slates, Ana Perez, Claire Daugherty, Danielle Sarno, Jada Kleinholz, Nivita Patri, Rachel Margulies, Samantha Maynard, Sara Khorshidi, Sofie Iwamasa and Yvonne Pan, representing the Humanitarian Design Corps

Vaccine Carrier Redesigned

The team’s goal is to redesign vaccine carriers to address the unmet needs of vaccine cold chain transport in rural Uganda in order to help increase the Ugandan children vaccination rates and improve outreach workers’ experience. Yuliang (Bill) Ding represented the Global Health Design Collaborative in this pitch competition.

Bus Buddies

The team’s goal is to provide better lighting later at night and early in the morning at CWRU shuttle stops to make students feel more safe and comfortable waiting at the bus. The lighting will use solar panels in order to promote sustainability and sustainable design. The team plans to install four LED lights that turn on automatically when it’s dark and off during the day. Two of the lights will be on at all times when it’s dark, and a motion sensor will be used to detect if there is someone approaching the bus stop, triggering the other lights to switch on. There will also be a data logger to keep track of bus stop usage and for monitoring the system for maintenance purposes. The system will be installed in the bus stop near Fribley Commons in the fall of 2021. If successful, the team plans on expanding and installing solar powered lighting at other poorly lit bus stops on campus. Pitch competition team members include Adam Goodman and Bridget Powers Beggs, representing the Humanitarian Design Corps.