UNE announces 2020-2021 Maine Ideas Challenge winners

Morgan Dube ’22 tapes for Greenlight Maine
Morgan Dube (M.S. Physician Assistant ’22) tapes for Greenlight Maine in December. Dube's project, an app called Ready Set Return, recently won first prize at UNE's Maine Ideas Challenge.

Winners have been announced for the University of New England’s 2020-2021 Maine Ideas Challenge.

Formerly known as the Student Innovation Challenge, the Maine Ideas Challenge provides students with the opportunity to propose transformative solutions to real-world problems. Innovative solutions can come from any field at any scale, from new business ideas that transform markets to social innovations that change lives.

The idea-stage competition brings student innovation together with UNE’s strengths in life, health, and social sciences. This year’s challenge brought together students from 12 academic disciplines across the University.

Grounded in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Maine Ideas Challenge has three areas of focus: Healthy Environments, Thriving Economies, and Resilient Communities.

Resiliency was embodied by all participating students, said Justine Bassett, M.S., founding director of the P.D. Merrill Makerspace at UNE, which hosted the Maine Ideas Challenge.

“We had no idea whether students would want to participate in an innovation challenge during the pandemic, but the students showed up, and all the teams persevered,” said Bassett. “What is really remarkable to me is the diversity of innovative ideas. From athletics to education to marine science and health, the challenge winners were an impressive group and represent the best UNE has to offer.”

Winners of the 2020-2021 Maine Ideas Challenge are listed below (project leads bolded):

Center for Excellence in Collaborative Education Award: Desk-I-Nation

Aimee LeMieux (Education, ’23)

Victoria Bowler (Health, Wellness, and Occupational Studies, ’22)

Molly Daley (Business, ’21)

Steve Sims (Applied Mathematics, ’23)

The Desk-I-Nation Education group is working on an educational website that connects classrooms with live, virtual field trip providers from all over the nation. The Desk-I-Nation Education website is designed to make field trips accessible for all schools, regardless of budget or location, in order to enrich students’ learning and expand their worldview.

3rd Prize: Prehabilitation App 

Maryam Nahidian (D.P.T., ’22)

Eric Norman (D.P.T., ’22)

Riley Shea (D.P.T., ’22)

Libby Breznyak (Medical Biology, ’22)

Gabriel Tarbuck (Health, Wellness, and Occupational Studies, ’22)

The Prehabilitation app is being designed for individuals scheduled for major abdominal surgery who are experiencing frailty. The intent of this program is to decrease frailty after surgery by creating an all-encompassing approach to pre- and post-surgical care that provides the necessary tools in the form of optimizing nutrition, exercise, and post-surgery recovery.

2nd Prize: Innovision Hockey Goalie Training

Patrick Schena (Business, ’21)

Jared Christy (Business, ’23)

Jenna Pych (Business, ’22)

The Goalie Training project is developing a hockey goaltending training accessory that is designed to improve visual attachment and tracking quality when the puck is shot at the goaltender. The Goalie Training team is using camera-based technology to record on-ice hockey practices from both the goalie’s and shooter’s perspectives. They then use AI to analyze the body mechanics of both players so that coaches can easily make changes to the player’s game.

1st Prize: Ready Set Return

Morgan Dube (M.S.P.A., ’22)

Augustus Mendoza (Business, ’21)

Ready Set Return is a health care app to aid in the return-to-play process for those who have suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and have undergone surgery. The app will allow health care providers to utilize current evidence-based criteria to inform return-to-play decisions and implement best practices. The immediate impact is targeted at overall improvement of patient care and increased access to quality health care.


A mockup of the Ready Set Return app