Congratulations to the Winners of the Honors College Forum Fall 2017 Pitch Competition!

Fall 2017
By Donel Young

First-year students who took the Honors College Forum this fall created more than 50 exceptional social innovation projects—14 teams were chosen to present their projects in front of the full Forum gathering and a panel of professional judges from academia and industry. From a new approach to feminine hygiene in Uganda and the use of gaming to bridge the disparity between male and female representation in the STEM fields, to drumming as a source for electricity, an “eat golden rice” campaign to combat vitamin A deficiency, and a renewable source for a natural toothbrush, our students demonstrated what's possible when Curiosity, Knowledge, and Purpose intersect to improve lives. Please join us in congratulating the winners of the Fall Forum Pitch Competition—FemSTEM and sECOndlife, as well as first runners-up Jatrophuel and ToothTwig, second runners-up Jolt and KineCharge, and all of the teams who presented!

Winning Projects



A novel way to bridge the disparity between male and female representation in the STEM fields using gaming and traditional trading cards that feature notable women in STEM to inspire middle school girls.

Project created by (above center, left to right): Anna Kozaka, Rebecca Liu, and Annie Gonor.

Professor (above center, far right): Harita Menon.




A business model to create affordable, reusable, and eco-friendly menstrual hygiene products for women in Uganda, using secondhand clothing, a peer mentorship program, and employment of local women to improve education and local industry.

Project created by (above right, second from left to right): Queencia Zhang, Olivia Kuzman, Nicki Wang, and Saagar Shag.

Professor (above right, far left): Julia Olayanju.

First Runners-Up


A renewable solution to extreme air pollution in Bangladesh that uses subsidies to incent local farmers to grow the Jetropha plant and local refineries to make biodiesel, resulting in a stronger local economy, lower cost fuel, and cleaner air.

Project created by: Jeffrey Huo and Praveen Sakthivel

Professor: Tatiana Popovitchenko


A concept that combines dental hygiene education in Pakistan with access to and instruction on growing and using twigs from the Miswak plant as a renewable, natural toothbrush, which releases antimicrobial agents that decrease bacterial growth and plaque.

Project created by: Joshua Atienza, Lindsay Benitez, and Charles de Agustin.

Professor: Rachel Paseka

Second Runners-Up


A plan that combines piezoelectric technology with African drums to create awareness for clean, affordable, renewable energy options in sub-Sahara countries where large populations without electricity often rely on burning toxic materials to survive.

Project created by: Ethan Catalanello, Sanjay Goyal, and Davis Tong.

Professor: Wendy Ritch


A sleek, low-priced, pocket-held device that taps the everyday motion of the user to power an LED lamp suitable for reading for people in Tanzania where safe access to lighting is limited.

Project created by: James Aikins, Victoria Stiritz, Sam Verma, Shivam Verma, and Shivani Vyas.

Professor: Catherine Buttner