Thursday April 6, 2017

Engineering Alumnus Wins Flyer Pitch; Three of Six Finalists are Engineers

By Kelly Garrow, School of Engineering

University of Dayton chemical engineering alumnus Zach McHale won first place and $25,000 for his stadium seat device in the University of Dayton’s 11th annual Flyer Pitch competition, one of the largest collegiate-level business plan contests in the country.

The School of Engineering grad was joined in the winner’s circle by team S.T.A.R., who took home the $10,000 third prize and team Ortus, which tied for fourth place and received $5,000.

McHale’s patent-pending Neet Seat is a pouch that can be attached to stadium and arena seats to hold coats and other items. McHale, a 2006 graduate, was announced as the winner during a banquet on Tuesday, March 28, after six rounds of multi-national competitions featuring more than 200 teams.

“The quality of the teams has gotten better year after year,” said Vincent Lewis, director of the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Dayton. “This year’s six finalists are all fundable business opportunities, with three of the finalists already having sold some products and one already having raised some capital. It is exciting through the course of the competition to see the teams develop ideas and transform them into viable opportunities.”

Cash prizes were awarded to all six finalists. Second place with a $15,000 prize went to HitGrip, designed by former professional baseball player Jim Ward and his daughter, alumna Tiffany Pikas. HitGrip is a patented device to help control hitters’ swings in baseball and golf.

S.T.A.R., initially developed through the University’s ETHOS Center, is an environmentally friendly refrigeration method designed for use in areas without reliable power grids. Team Members include current UD students, Matt Worsham, Claudia Labrador Rached, Bipin Kharki, Katie Willard, Ben Pfeifer and Scott Stoermer. S.T.A.R. was also selected as one of only 42 teams to compete in the Rice Business Plan Competition, the largest collegiate competition in the country.

Founded by UD students Andrew Hamilton, Shannon Hoffman and Sean Depke with the help of UD Alum Chase Jenkinson, Ortus is a noise canceling technology developed by the United States Naval Research Center at Crane, Indiana, and is being redesigned to provide noise reduction in industrial facilities.

Throughout the competition, $150,000 in cash prizes and $150,000 of in-kind support was awarded to teams.

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