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Marry a great idea with a solid marketing plan, and you’re likely to be on your way to a
successful venture. The Dolan School of Business’ Business Plan Competition is designed to encourage students to do just that. Open to students from across campus, the winning teams in each category – Venture and Social Enterprise – were comprised of both engineering and business students who have been working together all year. They took home a lot more than a pat on the back.
The winning team in the Venture category was the “SenseFit” team, including three engineering students who play for Fairfield University varsity and club teams. “We wanted to combine the skills we’ve learned in engineering with our passion for sports,” said Elizabeth Cortez, ’13, who is captain of the women’s rugby team and a mechanical engineering major. She was part of a group that designed the wristwatch-type device that uses compact, wireless sensors to read and record heart rate, pulse ox, and muscle activity using conventional Bluetooth technology and an easy to use smartphone application. Estimated to cost about $250, it’s targeted for everyone from NCAA athletes in training to baby boomers trying to stay fit to active senior citizens. The team also included Nicole Stark, ’13, a mechanical engineering major; Stephanie Cruz, ’13, a software engineering major; and Bernardo Navarro, ’14, an accounting and economics major in the Dolan School.
As a member of the volleyball team, Cruz knows a lot about how teamwork and countless hours of practice can pay off. “I believe that even if we did not win a monetary award, this was a meaningful experience for me that will help me in my future career,” said Cruz, who added she was grateful to mentors Mark Willkehr, an entrepreneur, and Associate Professor Shahrokh Etemad, Ph.D., chairman of mechanical engineering.
The engineering students developed the monitor as part of the School of Engineering’s Senior Design course, which challenges students to put all their engineering knowledge to work. Dr. Etemad said the idea for targeting their market on baby boomers and senior citizens was seeded during a presentation made by marketing faculty member John Neal, while Drs. Ryan Munden and Tim Talty lent their technical expertise. “This team consists of three athletes with a win-win mentality, and a bright business major,’ pointed out Dr. Etemad.
Electrical engineering major Darren Mondezie, ’14, and business student Alex Boothe, ’16, teamed up to create the inCognito Climate Controlled Hat after Boothe’s fight with cancer. “When you are in treatment, your body temperature can really fluctuate,’ said Boothe, a freshman majoring in marketing and management, who is now cancer-free. “These hats are personal heating and cooling systems that can keep you warm or cool – whatever you want.”
The two students met at the competition’s Saturday Startup Day earlier in the academic year, which brought together curious self-starters. Fusing together their business and technical acumen, the ‘InCognito’ team continues to work on a prototype of the $27 hat. They envision it as a big draw for cancer hospital gift shops, cancer organizations and even Fairfield University, complete with a Stag logo on it. James Dugan, ’85 served as their mentor.
“This is one milestone in our journey to fighting pediatric cancer, and people can expect to see us more in the near future,” said Mondezie.
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