DifferenceMaker Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition

This event has concluded. Please get involved in our spring 2023 events!

This program is supported by the Francis College of Engineering and the DifferenceMaker program.

The Competition

Do you have a great idea? Are you wondering if it can be turned into a real product that customers would buy and use? If so, then this is for you: a competition to push you to think about an idea and bring it to life.

What is the difference between this competition and other innovation and entrepreneurship competitions on campus? This competition is more than just generating an idea; it is about generating a product - whether it is a mechanical/electrical device, a software application, or an integrated system. After all, ideas are great but we want you to be creative and build it, sketch it, etc., with the resources you have!


  • Applicants must be students (graduate or undergraduate) at UMass Lowell and at least one team member must be from the Francis College of Engineering.
  • Students are encouraged to form interdisciplinary teams with all team members taking part in developing the executive summary submission and prototype development.
  • Each team should identify a faculty advisor from the Francis College of Engineering.

Important Dates

  • September 21: Application Registration Opens online. Create a team and apply using the Idea platform.
  • APPLICATION EXTENDED: October 28, at 5 p.m.: Application Registration Deadline
  • Due November 17, by 5 p.m. online: Executive Summary
  • Due November 17, by 5 p.m., due to Paulette Brooks, Francis College of Engineering Program Coordinator via email: paulette_brooks@uml.edu or UMass Lowell OneDrive:
  • December 6, 6-9 p.m. (open to the public): Final Competition and Finalists Announced. Please note, all competing student teams must arrive at 3 p.m.

Application Registration and Deadline Instructions

  • Create a team using the Idea Platform.
  • After you have created a team, log back into the Idea Platform and apply to the Engineering Competition.
  • Once your application is approved, then you can submit an executive summary via the Idea Platform.
  • Questions? Please contact Paulette Brooks, Francis College of Engineering Program Coordinator via email: paulette_brooks@uml.edu

Executive Summary

Executive summaries will be submitted online in the Idea Platform. Teams submitting plans past the deadline will not be included in the competition.

Available Resources

  • Teams that submit a proposal by the deadline are eligible to submit receipts of expenses incurred in their prototype design.
  • A maximum of $100 will be reimbursed, with valid expenses including material costs, equipment rental, etc. Student teams must approach engineering faculty and/or technical staff for the use of laboratory facilities (if necessary) in their designs and prototyping.
    • Please contact Paulette Brooks, Francis College of Engineering Program Coordinator via email: paulette_brooks@uml.edu
  • All registered teams will be invited to attend DifferenceMaker events during the semester to learn relevant skills and techniques, from idea generation to writing a business plan.


  • $2,500 award for 1st place team
  • $1,500 award for 2nd place team
  • $1,000 award for 3rd place team
  • $500 award for the people's choice award (crowd voting)


2021 Winners

  • Proprioception and Athletic Performance (Alarius Table with MatLab/Arduino Telemetry); Steven Evangelos and Mark Elman: 1st Place, $2,500 and will advance directly into the DifferenceMaker Preliminary Pitch-off in April.
  • Tendren (ER monitoring while waiting); Ethan Block, Amie Russell, and Victoria Williams: 2nd Place, $1,500 and Fan Favorite; $500
  • PenGRED (EAIs for young children); Gabiela Karnesky, Ryan Butler, Danielle Bucci, and Grace Murray: 3rd Place, $1,000
  • Prosthetic Hand for Steering (steering wheel prosthetic for farmers); Tze-min Lin: Honorable Mention

Thank you to all the 2021 preliminary and finalist judges!