Infection-fighting device wins third annual Student Innovation Challenge

First place Innovation Challenge winners L-R: Sophia Chan, Daniel Morganielli and Tiffany Cheung
First place Innovation Challenge winners L-R: Sophia Chan, Daniel Morganielli and Tiffany Cheung

May 04, 2017

Rachel Amoroso
Rachel Amoroso with her invention
Innovation Challenge participants
Innovation Challenge participants

The final round of competition was held on April 8, 2017 for UNE’s third annual Student Innovation Challenge. An idea-stage competition sponsored by the Department of Business, the event encourages innovative and sustainable solutions to social, environmental and health issues facing our society. The contest was open to all full-time UNE students (undergraduate, graduate and online) and required that students, working individually or in teams, demonstrate a business model that is financially and ecologically sustainable.

This year’s winning team was composed of of Sophia Chan (COM, ’19), Daniel Morganielli (Exercise Science, ’18) and Tiffany Cheung (COM, ’19). Their product, the “Smart Renal Bag,” helps to fight infections. The team was awarded a $5,000 prize to further the development of their invention.

“We are so excited and thankful for the help we received from the Makerspace,” said Cheung. “The faculty and staff helped us with the innovation process and coached us on everything from design thinking to entrepreneurship to making a greater impact towards a healthier planet.”

The team of Rachel Amoroso and Allison Truttling, both Class of ’19 Marine Sciences majors on the Marine Biology track were awarded second place. They received a $3,000 prize for their project, “Internet of Things,” which uses technology to guard against neurotoxic algae.

“We are so excited about developing our idea,” said Amoroso. “We have had such a great time going through all the sparking sessions and think tanks that helped us find and develop this innovation idea. We can’t wait to take the work to the next level.”

Third place went to two members of the Class of 2018, Dylan Turner and Nick Vespa, for their development of nutrient rich “Aquaponic Soil.” Turner, a Marine Sciences major on the Marine Biology track, and Vespa, an Aquaculture and Aquarium Sciences major, received a $2,000 prize. 

Reflecting on the project, Vespa said, “This was such a good learning experience, combining passion with business and applying what we learned in class.”

Several other poster presenters were also on hand to participate in the event following the successful completion of their innovative projects.

Judging the competition were Karin Gregory, founding partner of Furman, Gregory & Deptula; Richard Hale, president and CEO of Wentworth Technology; and Eli Dolloff, owner of Maine Marketing and Bitroot. Gregory, Hale and Dolloff also participated in a panel discussion to share their own entrepreneurship experience.

“It was great hearing the judges talk about the different successes and failures they’ve had leading up to the impacts they are making in innovation and entrepreneurship to help the world,” said runner-up Sydney Sanders.

The Student Innovation Challenge would like to thank David Anderson, Sandra L. Goolden, and the P.D. Merrill Charitable Trust for their generous contributions that made the event possible.

Watch a video of the event.

To learn more about the College of Arts and Sciences, visit

To apply, visit

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