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Mike Lalich

A celebration of big ideas to create a brighter world October 5, 2018

On Thursday night, the Faculty of Engineering hosted their first ever Big Ideas Pitch Night at McMaster’s University Club.

Over 200 attendees watched 22 McMaster Engineering faculty members, undergraduate and graduate students share their big ideas to create a brighter world in a three minute thesis-style competition. More than $600,000 in research funding and cash prizes was awarded.

“This year marks 60 years of Engineering Excellence,” said Ishwar K. Puri, Faculty of Engineering Dean, in his opening remarks at the event. “In honour of this milestone, we’re recognizing the big ideas of our friends, alumni, faculty and students. We’ve been celebrating all year with stories and events, including this one.”

 “Tonight is a special night. For the first time ever – students and faculty are pitching their ideas on the same stage.”

At the Big Ideas Pitch Student Qualifying Round this past Tuesday, 19 graduate students delivered pitches about their own research and 19 undergraduate students pitched their big ideas to change the world at CIBC Hall. Eight finalists shared their solutions at the final last night and were awarded more than $8K in cash prizes.

As part of their applications to the Seeding Big Ideas Research Competition announced in May 2018, 10 faculty members were invited to pitch their research at the event and six $100K seed funding prizes were awarded.

Four recipients of the Educating the Engineer of 2025 (EtE-25) awards, valued at a total of $80K, also shared their research. Each EtE-25 initiative provides undergraduate and graduate students with the skills to succeed in 21st century leadership roles in industry, government, and academia.

The judging panel for Big Ideas Pitch Night included Stephen Elop, renowned tech leader, former Microsoft executive and McMaster Engineering alumnus; Nitin Chopra, Partner at Shasta Venutres and McMaster Engineering alumnus; Angela Pappin, Vice-President, Technology at ArcelorMittal Dofasco; Lorna Somers, Director of Development at McMaster; and Katie Porter, Director Research and Administration, Hamilton Health Sciences.

Here are the Big Ideas Pitch Night winners:

Seeding Big Ideas Winners – 6 prizes of $100K in Seed Funding

  • Todd Hoare, 3D Printing of Organs
  • Kathryn Grandfield, Smart Surfaces for Combating Antibiotic Resistance
  • Igor Zhitomirsky, Centre for Printed Electronics
  • Zahra Motamed, Multiscale Computational Predictive Tool for Cancer Metastasis
  • Tohid Didar, Tackling Food Waste
  • Zeinab Hosseini-Doust, Refocusing Cancer Immunotherapy

Graduate Winners

  • 1st prize, $3000: Vincent Leung, Breaking the Cold Chain: Creating Thermally Stable Vaccines, Chemical Engineering, PhD
  • 2nd prize, $2000: Sam Peter, Solar Windows: The Clear Alternative
  • 3rd prize, $1,000 Eva Mueller, Smart Materials for Drug Delivery
  • 4th prize, $500: Andrew Le Clair, Measuring Knowledge: How Do We Know What a Computer Knows?

 Undergraduate Winners

  • 1st prize, $1000: Hannah McPhee, Making Emergency Response Safer
  • 2nd prize, $750: YumnaIrfan, Melatonix
  • 3rd prize, $500: Jessica Trac, MediNote
  • 4th prize, $300: Natasha Varghese, Predicting the Unpredictable

Watch the Big Ideas Pitch Night Live Event Video