Meet the Innovation Scholars
2025 Innovation Scholars
Information Systems/Mathematics, anticipated 2025
Adam Bournes is a rising junior studying Information Systems with a minor in Logic and Computation. He seeks to use his experience in rapid prototyping to eventually help fix the environment and solve problems relating to social media.
Growing up Adam was very interested in starting new ventures, creating his own Amazon business selling gardening tools and Pokemon cards. Soon though, the realization dawned that this was not a scalable approach to entrepreneurship and so he committed to learning technical skills and has since built several prototype apps for local startups. He was able to come to CMU because of his Army ROTC scholarship and eventually plans to use his clearances, knowledge and connections to work on government security contracts.
For fun Adam enjoys sprinting for the CMU Varsity Track & Field Team and reading books and manga.
Tepper School of Business, B.S. Business Administration with Entrepreneurship concentration, anticipated 2025
Kaitlyn Chow is an entrepreneur who hopes to make a difference in the lives of others–both through the businesses she creates and in everything she does.
Her entrepreneurial journey started with selling handmade pipe cleaner “pets” as an elementary schooler. In high school, she started her polymer clay business Clayzbunnies. She loved how her customers would light up when they saw her polymer clay pieces and how she got to learn about their stories.
Currently, she’s working on her startup BAM! Bottle, a portable container that can change the temperature of its contents. In her freshman year, Kaitlyn took second place in the McGinnis Venture Competition and has been a finalist in pitch competitions such as the CMU Venture Challenge. She hopes BAM! Bottle will let people, like her dad, enjoy their favorite coffee at their perfect temperature anywhere, anytime.
Outside of classes and running her business, Kaitlyn is involved in CMU’s American Marketing Association and dance! She also enjoys art, hanging out with friends and playing with her bunny Ninja.
Kaitlynʻs favorite part of her journey has been the amazing people she’s met, and she can’t wait to continue to meet inspiring, passionate people. Feel free to reach out to chat! Right now, she’s probably hunting down scrumptious food.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, anticipated 2025
Matthew Coyle is an Electrical and Computer Engineering major with an intended minor in Robotics. He is passionate about sustainable technologies and the application of robotics in this space.
Growing up, Matthew was always inspired to build and learn from making projects he found online. Starting from smaller projects like a handheld Gameboy and an electric skateboard to bigger projects like a smart mirror and bartop arcade system, Matthew is looking to take this love of making and is looking to explore new green technologies. His brother Jimmy Coyle, a conservation and marine biology major at BU, has been a big inspiration for him and his love of nature and Matthew hopes to have his technologies will have a positive impact in those fields.
On campus, Matthew is a part of several organizations such as the CMU Cross Country and Track teams, the CMU Student Athletic Advisory Council as an Exec board member and a member of Alpha Kappa Psi. As an innovation scholar, Matthew is really excited to work with and learn from all the other innovation scholars and can't wait to grow in his entrepreneurial journey.
School of Computer Science and Entrepreneurship, anticipated 2024
B.S. Tepper School of Business (Entrepreneurship) and School of Computer Science, anticipated 2025
Pratyay is an aspiring entrepreneur who is primarily interested in climate technology and environmental sustainability focused startups. He hopes to use the skills he learns from the Tepper School and the School of Computer Science to tackle exigent issues within this space.
In 2020, while he was serving mandatory conscription in the Singapore Armed Forces, Pratyay co-founded an NGO called Think Wildlife Foundation to support wildlife conservation projects. He helped to set up an e-commerce store to raise funds for the NGO by selling merchandise online, and this presented him with his first entrepreneurial experience. Building an organization from the ground up has provided a multitude of valuable lessons that will help him in his future ventures.
Pratyay is actively involved with clubs, competitions and other events at the Swartz Center. He is on the executive board for the Scottie Ventures, through which he represented CMU at the undergraduate Venture Capital Investment Competitions in 2022 and 2023. He advanced to the final round of Hack-a-Startup in Fall 2022, where he teamed up with graduate students to prototype athletic shoes without laces. He has also taken part in the McGinnis Venture Competition, the CMU Venture Challenge and Xchangeideas.
Outside of the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Carnegie Mellon, Pratyay is a member of the the Singapore Students Association, CMU OM and the club cricket team. In his free time, Pratyay enjoys cooking, taking photos and watching sports.
As an Innovation Scholar, Pratyay is excited to generate ideas and tackle challenging problems with an interdisciplinary group of passionate students.
B.S. in Business Administration (Finance & Economics), CMU-Q, anticipated 2025
Mukhammadjon Gafurov is a rising junior pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration with Finance concentration and a minor in Economics. He is passionate about investing and tech startups.
Mukhammadjon’s entrepreneurial journey began in college when he started an online store on Amazon. After launching a couple of product lines in his online store, the business did not succeed, and he had to shut down the store. This experience taught Mukhammadjon that starting a business is not always as smooth as expected and the risks should not be underestimated.
In 2022, Mukhammadjon was invited to join his friend’s deep tech startup, eyeTech, AI and eye-tracking integrated training platform that trains medical students and professionals to better interpret Electrocardiograms (ECGs) and other medical images. Mukhammadjon has worked on the startup alongside his team from the idea stage, and they have been able to raise a total of $50,000 through startup competitions and Hackathons. Their project is currently under the product development stage.
Mukhammadjon has already started investing. So far, he has invested in 5 businesses, 4 of which were successful. His current portfolio includes 3 businesses in Uzbekistan and Ghana with a total of more than $23,000 which expect to give him an annual return of more than 50%. He invests in small businesses. He has invested in smartphone retail, P2P trading on Binance, car renting businesses etc. so far. He is also Vice President of Investment Club in CMU Qatar where he tries to encourage investing spirit among students through organizing events, competitions and talks.
As an Innovation Scholar, Mukhammadjon is looking forward to meeting entrepreneurial-minded people, exchanging business ideas and networking with mentors and startup founders on building successful startups.
B.S. School of Computer Science, anticipated 2025
Advika Jayanti is a rising junior studying Computer Science with a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As an aspiring entrepreneur, she explores how sound shapes human experience through musical and computational modalities but is impeded by disability and inequity.
Her current research in the MultiComp Lab investigates long-range musical structure and coherence by leveraging novel advances in deep learning. Previously, Advika interned at iAccessible, a startup that improves sensory accessibility standards for software by implementing the perspectives of deaf and blind users. As a high schooler, she developed a theory-backed curriculum alongside the Harmony Project to democratize music education for underprivileged communities in Los Angeles. Advika’s 10 years of study in classical Indian music theory have provided her with a broader perspective on the structure of sound.
Advika is a board member of CMU’s Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association, where she organizes CMU VC and instructs the “How to Build Your Own Start-Up” StuCo. Through the Innovation Scholars program, Advika is excited to further immerse herself in CMU’s startup ecosystem, and grow through an excellent network of entrepreneurs and opportunities.
Clarine (Seo Hyun) Lee
College of Fine Arts, anticipated 2025
Clarine Lee is studying fine arts and minoring in innovation and entrepreneurship and photography at Carnegie Mellon University. Through her research and projects, she aims to bring people together by exploring themes of heritage, belonging and memory. She hopes to improve social and economic progress through art, and is inspired to pursue entrepreneurial ventures and initiatives that seek to make a positive impact.
Clarine’s dedication to social impact shows through her volunteer work with the MoonCatcher Project, where she is serving to support the organization's mission of providing reusable menstrual products to girls worldwide. Her past experiences also include developing a patent for an allergen cart in high school and proposing an idea for a pencil drive in college. These experiences have taught her invaluable lessons about entrepreneurship, resilience and problem-solving to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
With an interdisciplinary approach to art and entrepreneurship, Clarine is thrilled to collaborate with students across schools to identify new growth opportunities. Based on her own experiences as an artist, she’s determined to open a creative space that can serve as both a studio and gallery space for interdisciplinary artists and change makers. Additionally, she plans to assist prominent photographers in expanding their reach globally and hopes to inspire others to consider new possibilities in their respective work.
As an Innovation Scholar, Clarine is committed to contributing to the program by sharing her knowledge and skills with her cohort and future scholars. She’s realized that the entrepreneurial journey is not just about successes. She looks forward to sharing her experiences to inspire and guide others to pursue their endeavors and remain undeterred in the pursuit of finding solutions for meaningful change.
Material Science/Engineering anticipated 2025
Maria Sultana Mina
B.S in Business Administration, CMU-Q, anticipated 2025
Maria Sultana Mina is a sophomore pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration with Marketing concentrations and with an intended minor in Tech Entrepreneurship. Maria is a highly motivated and passionate individual, driven by her vision to make a positive impact on society. Her goal is to create innovative business and technology opportunities that not only benefit others, but also enhance socio-economic conditions in developing countries. Her primary interests include bridging the gap between education and technology, and actively promoting and participating in initiatives aimed at addressing pressing societal issues.
Her entrepreneurship journey started in her sixth grade when she founded her first business, selling her paintings to raise funds for her school's art club. Despite not having any prior knowledge of Spanish or business, she, along with two friends, successfully raised three years' worth of art supplies for the school in just six months under the name "BezelLA Interior”. Witnessing the impact of her hard work on her fellow students was a profound experience for her and taught her the value of dedication, hard work, and persistence, traits that have continued to influence her journey as an entrepreneur.
Growing up in a small city, she was surrounded by people who had similar views and perspectives as hers. However, after moving to a military school in grade 7, she had the opportunity to interact with individuals from different parts of her country and learn from their diverse perspectives and experiences. Spending six years in military school taught her valuable lessons about goal-setting, discipline, consistency, resilience, multitasking and mental and physical strength. Later, as an international student in Qatar, she was exposed to a diverse community of individuals from all over the world, and she explored her interests and aspirations through her university studies, volunteer work and internships.
During her freshman year, she participated in an entrepreneurship competition where she and her team built a startup idea called "Homey" and won several awards, including the "Best Company of the Year 2022" at regional competitions. As a Research Assistant at Computing Hub, CMU-Q, she collaborated with Professor Saquib Razak's team to extend the computer science curriculum to middle school students in Bangladesh. Her team has been working hard to develop a new computer science curriculum, train volunteers and teachers and convince schools to adopt the new curriculum. She is also working on developing a platform that will offer students in Bangladesh financial grants and sponsorships for their studies. Her team is in the process of creating a secure website that will allow students to create their own profiles and list their financial needs while also connecting with various organizations and individuals willing to donate or sponsor students. Her team's primary focus is to maintain a secure database of information, create a bridge between students and sponsors and ensure that all transactions between the two parties are efficient and effective.
Maria's interests extend beyond the boundaries of work and academics. She spends her free time immersing herself in photography and painting, creating works of art that reflect her creative spirit. Additionally, she is passionate about learning and experiencing the rich diversity of people, languages and cultures from around the world, broadening her understanding and appreciation of the world we live in.
As a Swartz Innovation Scholar, she aims to cultivate her business ideas, connect with experienced entrepreneurs, and contribute to her country's socio-economic development. She believes Her journey towards success is filled with challenges, but with determination and resilience, she will steer her ship towards the destination of success.
Tepper School of Business, anticipated 2025
Mechanical Engineering/Biomedical Engineering, anticipated 2025
Victoria Nguyen is pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering with an additional major in Biomedical Engineering. While her interests span between healthcare accessibility, intuitive medical devices, hospital procedure efficacy and implementation of the chronic care model, it is all tied by a common passion—improving the patient experience in the healthcare system.
Victoria’s entrepreneurial interests are newfound, but is a result of numerous experiences working with biotechnology. This past summer, she did research in the Interactive Structures Lab, where she was responsible for developing the prototype for a customizable, affordable ankle prosthetic. The most rewarding aspect of this project was the prospect of being able to deliver a DIY kit for a prosthetics to users, a novel form for a familiar product.
Inspiration for many of Victoria’s ideas are from looking at healthcare with a critical eye, particularly when she’s in a new environment. When given the opportunity to be in Scotland for a Fulbright program, she took inspiration from the integration of academia and industry in the Advanced Forming Research Center to identify a need to create infrastructure between academia, industry and clinical in healthcare. During a service trip in Honduras, she looked critically at the design of dental forceps to understand why they are each customized the way they are. She hopes to translate these ideas into entrepreneurial ventures.
Victoria hopes to gain further insight into entrepreneurship in the context of healthcare through her internship this coming summer at Advanced Optronics, a startup out of the Swartz Center that develops flexible, biocompatible sensor systems to enable smarter, less invasive cochlear implant surgery.
As an Innovation Scholar, Victoria hopes to share ideas with a diverse cohort with students and further understand how she can bring her ideas to life. This will supplement her experiences on campus with CIA Buggy, Global Medical Brigades and Alpha Kappa Psi.
Business Administration, anticipated 2025
School of Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence, anticipated 2025
Ram Potham is an Artificial Intelligence major with a passion for deep tech and entrepreneurship. Since watching Shark Tank as a young child, he’s been captivated by the world of startups and the freedom, triumphs, struggles, opportunity and impact it offers. Driven by his vision of sustainable economic systems, Ram aims to integrate AI and blockchain technologies into the realm of sustainability to create a truly transformative startup. To achieve this goal, he tirelessly works nights and weekends to build software and gain experience.
At CMU, Ram is an active board member of the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association, where he fosters innovation and develops entrepreneurial skills. He’s also deeply engaged with the CMU Blockchain Club, honing his expertise in building decentralized applications. As a member of Sustainable Earth, Ram is dedicated to increasing sustainability on campus, with the intention of applying the knowledge gained from his classes and club experiences to his startups. He boasts an impressive track record of practical AI experience, which includes engaging in HCI/AI research at school, completing a machine learning internship at a startup during his freshman summer, and working full-time at a startup during his sophomore summer, where he skillfully harnesses the power of large language models to drive innovation.
Ram's commitment to the startup ecosystem has led him to consult for various emerging companies through the AWS IQ program. Here, he employs AWS, ML and full stack development to build efficient pipelines. His ability to rapidly prototype, coupled with his proficiency in numerous technologies, was honed through application development for non-profit organizations and participation in multiple hackathons throughout high school.
In his freshman year, Ram founded HourlyMC, a venture that provided pay-as-you-go game servers. Despite not achieving monetary success, the experience taught Ram invaluable lessons that he now applies to his future entrepreneurial pursuits. Ram's approach to entrepreneurship competitions is like a comedic audition process, where he enthusiastically rehearses each idea from his extensive laundry list, searching for the one with the coolest application, all the while hoping to stumble upon the winning concept that shines brightest.
Ram is excited to be part of the Innovation Scholars program, which will offer him a supportive community of like-minded individuals and access to invaluable resources. With the program's assistance, he is confident in his ability to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams and create a lasting impact on the world.
2024 Innovation Scholars
B.S in Business Administration (Business Analytics, Finance), CMU-Q, 2024
Asad Abdurazzakov is a sophomore pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration with Finance and Business Analytics concentrations and with an intended minor in Tech Entrepreneurship. He is passionate about solving business problems and making a positive impact on people's lives.
Asad's entrepreneurial journey started in high school when he ran two clothing stores and sold man's clothes in a large bazaar. He also helped his father to run a food store from an early age and was actively involved in day-to-day operations. After that, he managed an online tutoring business, teaching math and physic. His natural curiosity makes him fearless of failure and constantly pushes him to apply new ideas to various fields.
Asad is very interested in investing in the stock market and would love to talk about great investment ideas and early-stage startups to invest in. At CMU-Q, he is involved in the Scotties of Wall Street student club. He's currently exploring the idea of copy trading to make large profits without much effort by simply following the pro investors on the social trading platforms. By conducting the regression analysis on the investors' statistics and different variables, he is trying to find the best investors with the highest returns and observe their performance for a particular period.
Outside of work and academics, Asad spends his free time playing football and table tennis. He plays for the CMU-Q Football team and won third place in EC Tournament this year. He also enjoys trying out new restaurants on the weekends.
As an Innovation Scholar, Asad is looking forward to meeting entrepreneurial-minded people, exchanging business ideas, working on turning brilliant ideas into startups and building bonds with the CMU Entrepreneurship Community.
Dietrich College, B.S. Technical Writing & Communications, anticipated 2024
Sarah Abrams is a Technical Writing & Communications major planning to double minor in Business Administration and Societal and Human Impacts of Future Technologies (SHIFT). She is fascinated by the intersection between writing, technology and business.
Sarah has been an entrepreneur since middle school when she created her own online blog to support those with Scoliosis and spread awareness about the disease. The blog spread widely on social media and across orthopedic offices. Learning that writing and entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive, Sarah seeked to combine these passions.
For as long as she can remember, Sarah has always loved Outer Space, but approached this curiosity through the lens of poetry and philosophy. Upon arriving at Carnegie Mellon, however, Sarah was given the opportunity to continue exploring space in a new way– joining Red Whittaker’s MoonRanger project as a technical writer on the Representation Team. Through this experience, Sarah learned about proposal writing, blog chronicling and public relations for lunar robotics.
Sarah also developed a new student organization, The Writing Academy, which has granted over 30 students with interests in interdisciplinary writing the ability to network with career professionals. She is interested in studying how industry mindset is catalyzing a “death of the humanities," and how entrepreneurship can help prevent this.
She is currently developing a startup called Ulaunched which seeks to revolutionize the way companies send anything to space right from the beginning: the initial proposal. The startup will seek to connect roboticist with writers and other humanists through unconventional methods, making the proposal process more efficient and collaborative than ever before.
As an Innovation Scholar, Sarah is excited to meet more entrepreneurs with interdisciplinary ambitions, network with individuals in Pittsburgh’s up-and-coming robotics industry and form a bond with her cohort.
Mehmet Deniz Birlikci
School of Computer Science, anticipated 2024
Deniz is an Artificial Intelligence major at the School of Computer Science. He is fascinated by the breadth of new applications possible by technologies such as blockchain technology, artificial intelligence and computer vision. He feels the most alive in front of a whiteboard, sketching ideas or trying to solve intractable problems with a group of people by his side, especially if those ideas and problems can improve lives.
Growing up in Istanbul, Turkey, Deniz’s entrepreneurial journey started in high school, when he founded Ludens Store - a personalized gifting company. He started programming to put together a website and online payment gateway to support his company. After learning so much through this experience, Deniz recognized that the best way to learn is to just try. He would follow this template many more times throughout his life, working at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to research blockchain technologies, or interning at the Mercedes AMG F1 team to understand what it takes to create a culture that sustains innovation and lacks complacency. As an Innovation Scholar, Deniz hopes to keep on this template, now bringing to life one of the many ideas he has sketched out in his notebooks.
Since 2012, Deniz has been volunteering for Young Guru Academy, a non-profit focusing on socially responsible leadership and entrepreneurship. Witnessing the inception of a smart cane for the visually impaired, TWIN Science kits to improve STEM education for children and the largest Hydrosolar Plant in Turkey left deep marks on him. Deniz spent his high school years traveling to underdeveloped villages in his Turkey to inspire an interest in STEM and robotics in students. These experiences convinced him that entrepreneurship is a powerful tool for social good and made him realize he had a responsibility to not only walk on his path but also to pave the way for others.
At Carnegie Mellon, Deniz is involved in the Student Advisory Council for SCS and he currently serves as the Assistant Head Teaching Assistant of 15-112, where he’s exploring his passion for teaching.
In his childhood, Deniz had no shortage of role models to look up to. He accredits his resilience and compassion to his mother, his creativity and energy to his father and his ability to always find something to smile about to his grandmother. He believes that travel is a great way to expand your horizons, and he has been to 16 countries to date.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, anticipated 2024
Elliot is studying Materials Science and Engineering. In the future, he hopes to use his degree to solve global challenges by developing new materials.
He also hopes to apply the concepts from this major to a wide range of companies, whether his own companies or as an advisor to others. Materials are seldom focused on aspects for physical goods, and with new materials coming out at a rapid pace, there is room for innovation in this space.
Working at a bike shop for two years taught him a lot about hustling and how to sell. Starting off as a shy high school student, his time at the bike shop was a key motivator in both his personal development and entrepreneurial aspirations. Whether it’s a $11,000 road bike or a $3 package of coffee, Elliot is passionate about getting the product into customer hands.
He also hopes to learn more about being a leader by starting his own business. As an Eagle Scout and the Build Lead for one of CMU’s buggy teams, he has demonstrated his ability to produce results and is excited to apply that to whatever company may come in the future.
Tepper School of Business, CB.S. in Business Administration, Additional Major in Computer Science, anticipated 2024
Coleman Isner studies Business Administration and Computer Science. Coleman intends to combine the skills gained in Tepper and the School of Computer Science to either work in product management for a startup or found his own company. His interests lie in artificial intelligence, communication technology, formal verification, healthcare and others. Coleman has competed in hackathons since high school and enjoys breaking down problems worth solving to create valuable solutions.
Coleman has a variety of roles at the CMU. He is an RA, an ambassador for the Tartan Scholars program, and a board member of the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association. In 2021 and 2022, Coleman led startups that competed in the McGinnis Competition and the CMU Venture Challenge. He also participated in the Project Olympus Incubator and will continue competing with and building startups using CMU resources over the next few years.
When he was a first-year student, Coleman founded a startup called ImproovLearning to address communication gaps within K-12 schools. It was not successful, but Coleman learned from his mistakes and continues to develop solutions in the communication space. That work currently takes the form of Mycelium, an intelligent assistant that functions as a digital chief of staff to manage and communicate information for its user. Mycelium’s goal is to create “Constant Connection without Constant Attention,” and Coleman hopes to use this startup to help people reduce the amount of time spent searching for and communicating information in their personal and professional lives. The project offers opportunities to build experience with artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data analysis, product development and other fields. Coleman is excited to continue working on this project, and if it fails, he will use the gained knowledge to pursue new ideas for startups.
School of Computer Science, anticipated 2024
Megna Kokkalera is a Computer Science major who is also pursuing a minor in Business Administration. She is a driven and passionate individual whose vision is to make her mark on society through creating technology that can help others. Her interests lie in connecting the entertainment industry with technology as well as promoting and participating in solving prevalent societal issues.
It was always fascinating to Megna how entertainment – movies, tv shows, music, books and games – can transport us to a different reality. We can root for people we don’t know, we can connect with others who live across the globe, we can be inspired to create even more and continue this everlasting cycle through technology. This made Megna realize that entertainment is a means to brighten people’s days in a world laced with hardship. Therefore, she aims to center her company around entertainment and technology, creating a perfect, harmonious pairing.
Having grown up with two immigrant parents, Megna has learned how to persevere in the face of adversity, and aims to give back to her community in any way possible. Seeing the inadequate amount of resources for struggling students, she founded the AP Student Association (APSA), a mentorship program, which allows students taking AP courses for the first time to be connected with various resources and a personal student mentor. This empowers them to feel more confident and prepared for their future educational endeavors – setting the example that success isn’t an exclusive club, but an achievable goal that is possible for all. Under her leadership, APSA has helped mentor over a hundred students and has grown to include over fifty student mentors.
As a result of her leadership and the founding of APSA, Megna fell in love with the entrepreneurial spirit and found joy in building something from the ground up. It opened the doors to so many possibilities, and it made Megna determined to create a company of her own. Through the Innovation Scholars Program, Megna aims to be connected with a vast entrepreneurial network that can guide her along her journey of growing her company. She is
excited to interact with people from all walks of life, hoping to draw from their experiences to inspire and help shape the decisions she will make.
Megna often spends her free time watching movies with her family and traveling to different countries. She also enjoys making music, playing games and hanging out with her friends.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, anticipated 2024
Sejal Madan is a rising junior studying Electrical and Computer Engineering with a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As she watches technology expand in new ways to make its way into everyday life, Sejal is passionate about using these advancements in an innovative way to improve the lives of others.
In the summer of 2020, Sejal interned for a physics laboratory, where she learned about machine and deep learning and created algorithms to better analyze data from the lab. This allowed her to realize the potential that machine learning and artificial intelligence can reach. She hopes to apply this knowledge and combine this with entrepreneurship to improve everyday life.
From leading an engineering summer camp for young women to following the lives and influences of female leaders, Sejal is committed to uplifting young women in STEM. She was on the board of directors of a startup that aimed to empower girls while teaching them that they can succeed in the tech world. Sejal got to immerse herself into the entrepreneurial world by leading marketing and communication efforts, offering creative ideas and taking charge when trying to adapt to covid measures, all while being an advocate for young women in STEM.
On campus, Sejal is involved in her sorority through holding director positions in Booth and New Member Education, and is also a part of the Society of Women engineers. In her free time, Sejal likes to express her creative side by painting and fashion designing. She also likes to travel and learn about different cultures and meet new people.
Becoming more involved in the entrepreneurial community at Carnegie Mellon, Sejal is excited to take her passions to the next level as an Innovation Scholar. She is eager to learn from inspirational mentors and meet other passionate students while furthering her entrepreneurship journey.
College of Fine Arts, anticipated 2024
Isaiah is involved with two clubs on Carnegie Mellon Universities campus, Professional Development Chair for Black and Latino Business Association (BLBA) and Marketing Chair for First Together.
Isaiah is really experienced in Graphic Design so he used this experience to start a clothing line in high school which he discontinued to focus on school but hopes to bring back one day.
Currently, Isaiah does freelance graphic design work for other companies as a side hustle, and also is working on an early age startup, Clutch, that he started in his New Venture Creation class. It is a roadside assistance service catered to Gen Z car owners.
Overall, Isaiah is excited to be a part of the CMU Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and hopes to network with great people. He also hopes to develop Clutch as much as possible through the Innovation Scholars program and any other ideas that come to mind.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering, anticipated 2024
Kol Rollins is pursuing a Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering double major with an Innovation and Entrepreneurship minor and is a member of the Carnegie Mellon University Men’s Soccer varsity team, member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and discussion leader for the Tartan Athlete Fellowship club. He aims to combine his passions in innovation and athletics by creating a company that develops technology to expedite injury recovery from ligament trauma caused in competition.
Kol discovered his entrepreneurial drive in eighth grade while working on his soccer cleat design passion project which culminated in the creation of a prototype soccer cleat. It continued through high school where he worked on an INCubator company that developed a media presence for local small businesses and placed second out of sixteen teams in a pitch competition to a panel of investors. In the past, Kol has exercised his love of soccer and entrepreneurship by training younger athletes through a globally recognized European training company. Later, he expanded to running his own soccer training business with the objective of assisting local players in reaching their potential on and off the field to give back to the community that allowed him opportunities to thrive. This coming summer, Kol will be performing meningeal cell and concussion research at the University of Limerick in Ireland and is excited to apply the technical engineering skills he’s learned in the College of Engineering to conduct meaningful research in his preferred field of biomechanics.
Through Innovation Scholars, Kol plans to take advantage of having like-minded and hard working entrepreneurs around him from different disciplines that inspire him to attack problems from many perspectives and to offer effective solutions to overcome obstacles in his personal biomechanics research. He will look to form meaningful connections through networking with
successful post graduate entrepreneurs and bond with his cohort through bringing positive change to their immediate community.
In his free time, Kol enjoys spending time outside, playing sports, skiing, traveling and experiencing new cultures and running.
Dietrich College, B.S. Statistics and Machine Learning, anticipated 2024
Audrey Simon is a rising junior studying Statistics and Machine Learning at Carnegie Mellon. She is also looking to pursue a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Growing up in New York, Audrey has spent time working with the Go Project and other education centers focused on assisting disadvantaged students in the city. She has worked as a teachers assistant for first grade students and a Mandarin translator for immigrant parents. She is passionate about using technology to improve educational opportunities in her community.
This past semester Audrey was a machine learning intern at Draper Laboratories, a non-profit innovation research facility that specializes in advanced tech solutions for national security, space exploration, health care and energy. This summer Audrey will be a returning developer intern at Maverick capital, a long short hedge fund in NYC. She is excited to work with the venture capital firm and is excited to learn more about the intersection of entrepreneurship and technology.
In her free time Audrey enjoys playing tennis, thrifting, working on art projects and coding mini games in python. As an innovation scholar Audrey is excited to find mentors that have similar passions as her and explore her entrepreneurial interests. She is excited to learn from other people’s experiences and make lasting connections with people in her community.
Information Systems Major with minors in Business and Software Engineering, anticipated 2024
Roshni Surpur is studying Business, Computer Science, Software Engineering, and Information Systems to become a promising operator in the technology industry and work with cross-functional teams to create revolutionary products. Her career interests lie in technology accessibility, social advocacy and technology consulting.
Roshni first found her love for entrepreneurship when she led a philanthropic clothing business called Jabali Walli. All generated income was donated to Roshni’s high school financial aid department to aid students with tuition and educational expenses. Roshni was able to give back to her community and empower students while also learning how to run a business. Within two years, Roshni increased annual sales by 250%!
Roshni continued to explore her entrepreneurial interests while interning at Pittsburgh's local financial technology startup, Troutwood. At Troutwood, Roshni developed web scrapping programs to automate over sixty hours of manual work, designed new app features and even led her own team sprint. She truly resonated with the startup’s mission of empowering GenZ through financial literacy.
On-campus, Roshni is a part of several organizations such as the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association (UEA) and Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional co-ed fraternity. As an executive board member of the UEA, Roshni co-teaches a student-led class where students build a startup in 8 weeks while learning fundamental business strategies. Outside of her extracurricular activities, Roshni loves to participate in hackathons and case competitions and won first place in the 2022 McKinsey & Company Case Competition.
When she’s not studying and writing code, Roshni loves to cook new recipes with friends, embroider clothes and practice new stitches and play with her rescue dog, Benji! Roshni is incredibly excited to join the Innovation Scholars program to meet like-minded innovators and entrepreneurs and soon develop her own startup.
School of Computer Science, B.S. in Computer Science, anticipated 2024
Khushi Wadhwa is studying computer science, with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship. Her interests lie in web3, decentralized finance, climate technology, machine learning and venture capital.
Beginning in high school, Khushi has spent a great deal of time innovating and learning. Through dozens of hackathons, she has developed a series of technological projects that have expanded her skillset as a creator. Khushi’s most challenging and rewarding project was Spectra — an augmented reality tool built for the Microsoft HoloLens to help students with Autism Spectrum Disorder learn to better comprehend and reciprocate emotions. As a student in the LaunchX entrepreneurship program, she co-founded her first company Lilani. At Lilani, she designed and developed a sensor-enabled smart watering system for everyday consumers. Khushi continues to test the limits of her programming and creative abilities by experimenting with emerging technologies.
At Carnegie Mellon, Khushi is involved in multiple organizations, including the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association, Scottie Ventures, the Society of Women Engineers, Kappa Kappa Gamma and CMU Bhangra. In her free time, Khushi enjoys dancing, cooking, reading and weightlifting. Khushi has continued her career in entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon through the organizations that she is a member of, as well as external opportunities. She has been a fellow at two venture capital firms — New Stack Ventures and .406 Ventures — and she has worked at two different startups — Building Blocks Technologies and C14.
As an innovation scholar, Khushi intends to take risks, learn from talented entrepreneurs and form lasting relationships with her fellow scholars. Khushi is confident that this experience will be an incredible way to grow alongside promising individuals.
Dietrich College, anticipated 2024
Ryan studies Information Systems with an additional major in Decision Science at Carnegie Mellon. Having a core passion towards strategy and business, he hopes to tie in the technical knowledge and skills from his primary major to pursue a career in VC and entrepreneurship or strategy consulting. Ryan is especially interested in BioTech and EdTech, as he believes that many of the worlds’ problems can be solved if ambitious, well-minded individuals are empowered and given access to resources.
Ryan’s past experiences encompasses various roles and fields, revolving mostly around startups. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Singaporean Armed Forces for two years, serving his National Service as a paratrooper, combat medic and later a procurement and logistics clerk. Next, in Fall 2020, he was one of the two youngest founders to be admitted to a university-backed startup accelerator in Singapore. There, he co-founded HiPals, a knowledge exchange platform aimed at helping international college students gain access to localized information and resources.
Around the same period of time, Ryan co-organized a global youth idea-thon collaborating with the UNDP to support the Sustainable Development Goals. Having to pick up skills of different natures from scratch, adapting to mistakes made along the way, as well as leading college graduates of different backgrounds and expertise, he realized his love for creating impact through organizing teams and executing the various skillsets of a generalist. Lastly, during his freshman summer Ryan interned at a Singaporean government statutory board, and played a role in supporting a portfolio of tech startups towards productivity-building and international expansion.
At Carnegie Mellon, Ryan is Director of Standards at Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, and Pro-Bono Lead for the Undergraduate Consulting Club. He is also a member of Scottie Ventures and the Singaporean Students’ Association. In his free time, he enjoys hitting the gym, reading books from a wide range of fields and catching up with his friends over dinner and drinks.
Through the Innovation Scholars program, Ryan hopes to surround himself with passionate and ever-curious individuals, meeting friends and mentors that will build the Swartz ecosystem and each other, up together.
2023 Innovation Scholars
B.S. in Information Systems, anticipated 2023
Anjali Akula is a sophomore (rising junior) in Information Systems with a planned minor in Business Administration. Her interests lie within consulting, business, tech and renewable energy.
Currently, Anjali is the Director of Community Outreach at the non-profit digital agency re:Bloom which helps small businesses and nonprofits improve their technical presence. In the year that re:Bloom has been in operation, it has helped over 15+ businesses and nonprofits create websites, improve their social media presence and add in ecommerce features. They have also engaged over 20+ volunteers in tech consulting projects that allow them to apply their technical abilities.
In the future, Anjali hopes to go into renewable energy/sustainability consulting. She also hopes to use the Innovation Scholars program as a launchpad for her entrepreneurial ideas and a great way to network with people who work within tech entrepreneurship.
Ishgun Singh Arora
B.S in Business Administration (Business Analytics, Finance), B.S in Statistics and Machine Learning, anticipated 2023
Ishgun is studying business analytics & technology, finance, statistics and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon. This falls in line with my entrepreneurial drive to improvise business processes through technological innovation. He is extremely passionate about blockchain’s role in providing a foundation for a new generation of transactions that establish trust and transparency in businesses. In summer’20, Ishgun spent my time working with KPMG India in developing a theoretical blockchain-enabled solution to improvise food supply chains. He plans on working on BoLT, a blockchain enabled platform that increases availability of capital to traditionally disadvantaged borrowers, during summer’ 21.
To narrow down Ishgun's entrepreneurial passions, he is particularly fascinated by the untapped education market in developing countries. Following his interests, Ishgun co-founded NextGenTutors last year, a new-age business that utilizes e-learning tools to digitize India’s economically unorganized high school tuition market. The company has been able to fund free learning classes for over 200 students from all over the country, in addition to running a couple of paid batches.
At Carnegie Mellon, Ishgun spends his time outside academics interviewing CMU alumni startup founders about their entrepreneurial journey, as the Project Head of the Entrepreneur Interview Series. Along the same lines, one of his favorite tasks as an executive board member of CMU’s Blockchain Group is to interview CMU Professors on their research on Decentralized Finance. Further, Ishgun also serves as the Finance and Sponsorships Chair of CMU’s Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association.
Ishgun is extremely excited to join the Innovation Scholars cohort of 2023, and he is looking forward to connecting with past, current and future innovation scholars. Imagine making like-minded friends and finding my next co-founder from amongst them!
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, anticipated 2023
Avika Bansal is double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. She is also pursuing minors in Business Administration and Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
Avika has been a nationally ranked fencer for 10 years, and is the founder of TurnPRO - a mobile app to improve analysis of performance for fencers at all levels. She has grown TurnPRO in a technologically antiquated field, and is looking forward to strengthening TurnPRO’s influence.
Since her freshman year, Avika has contributed to the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association and is currently Head of Growth of the organization. She has had a significant role in the expansion of the CMU Venture Challenge with over 80 applications and over $100k in total prizes, as well as increasing UEA membership and engagement.
At Carnegie Mellon, Avika is involved in multiple organizations including Executive Board of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Lead Ambassador of The Women’s Network and member of Women in Business and the Society of Women Engineers. In her free time, Avika loves to read, ski and explore Pittsburgh eateries.
Avika is incredibly excited to be an Innovation Scholar and gain exposure to more aspects of entrepreneurship. She is motivated by engaging and immersing herself in building strong connections with fellow colleagues, regardless of interests and passions, to leverage collective experiences and create a better understanding of herself personally and professionally. She is confident that her Innovation Scholar cohort will become a strong group of friends!
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, anticipated 2023
Miguel Brandao is an aspiring engineer and robotics entrepreneur graduating in 2023. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering paired with a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Within engineering, he is most interested in product design and development, as it allows for use of both technical skills and creativity.
During his senior year of high school, Miguel fell in love with engineering and entrepreneurship while working on a capstone project designing and developing environmentally-friendly gardening technology to extend the lifespan of domestic plants. The summer after his freshman year at CMU, he worked in a National Science Foundation lab researching light-controlled soft robotics. This upcoming summer, Miguel plans to work in Carnegie Mellon’s Interactive Structures Lab, as well as start a company related to his research.
While in the Innovation Scholars’ program, Miguel hopes to meet new people, learn from talented entrepreneurs and identify promising products for further development.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, anticipated 2023
Becky Button is a sophomore studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is passionate about using engineering to address access gaps in her community and across other domains.
She has seen the power of the Maker Movement and Open Source Hardware through her own personal projects. From building small arduino robots to making a pair of 3D printed sandals that could kick people off the wifi, she has explored the depths of the Open Source Hardware Movement and the Maker Movement. She has been an early adopter of 3D printing, and has been a contributor to 3D model sharing sites like Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory since 2013. As a high schooler, she was an intern for IMADE 3D, a company that revolutionized 3D printing by making an easy to assemble, high quality 3D printer that educators could use to teach students about 3D printing. She was a panelist on the 3D/DC Congressional Panel to inform Congress on the importance of 3D printing in education. She is an Open Source Hardware Association Ada Fellow for her work in the open source community.
She has always had an interest in assistive technology. She developed an open-source myo electric prosthetic that was much cheaper than existing open source solutions at the time. She partnered with e-NABLE, a non-profit organization that has connected thousands of people with upper limb differences to people with 3D printers who can build prosthetics to meet their needs, to share her device with a larger audience.
People with other disabilities started to reach out to her to co-create solutions to address their needs. She saw a need for a repository of these solutions to exist, so she founded Global Maker Initiative, an open source project-sharing platform for assistive technology. She has presented her work with Global Maker Initiative at Maker Faires across the country, including World Maker Faire.
Advocacy and education is very important to Becky. As someone who hails from a rural community, she saw there was a need for the kids in her hometown to have the opportunity to gain exposure to engineering and computer science. Unfortunately, no such programs existedmas there wasn’t even a computer science class offered in her high school. Becky started the first ever community technology program in her county. She taught the students how to code, circuit essentials and basic engineering principles. Her enthusiasm for coding and education can be seen in her essay titled Kids Can Code, No Problem which was published in the New York Times.
This summer Becky will be interning at BBot, a startup company focused on developing order and payment systems for the food industry. In her free time, she enjoys playing guitar, listening to 60’s counterculture music and making linocut prints.
Becky hopes that the Innovation Scholars Program will connect her to the entrepreneurship community at CMU and to alumni working on startups! She hopes to continue to work on her ideas related to addressing gaps in technology education.
Dietrich College, B.S in Socal and Decision Sciences, anticipated 2023
Jessi Figard studies Social and Decision Sciences with additional minors in history and business administration. She aspires to apply her knowledge from Decision Science to serve her community in politics by changing policies to promote equity. Focused on improving the lives of those around her, Jessi hopes to one day change the world through social entrepreneurship. Her most recent project is a college and scholarship application mentorship program where she guides disadvantaged youth through the application process and connects students with niche opportunities.
Growing up during the rapid development of her small town, Jessi saw her area transform from farmland to suburbia. Living through this shift, she observed how the town changed to be able to support multiple locally owned businesses while also providing a place for farmers who have downsized due to the development. In close proximity to agriculture, Jessi gained a passion for feeding the world around her and organized initiatives to feed her community more efficiently.
For her Girl Scout Gold Award, she designed and led a process engineering study for the Girl Scout Gold Award to reduce waste at community food pantries while increasing nutritional benefits to pantry consumers; supervised over 130 volunteers and coordinated with five community organizations to implement results of the study. In the end, Jessi positively impacted 80,000 pantry users and volunteers, nationally and saved an average of 70 lbs of food per week at each pantry.
In addition to this project, Jessi interned at Ecotone Renewables, a Pittsburgh sustainability start-up, to gain a further breadth in agricultural technology. She plans to continue exploring agricultural startups.
Since childhood, Jessi has explored entrepreneurship starting small neighborhood businesses like selling fresh produce from her garden, opening a babysitting business and organizing fundraising campaigns for her favorite local charities. As an innovation scholar, Jessi hopes to ingrain herself in the CMU entrepreneurship community and further explore her entrepreneurial interests. Furthermore, she hopes to collaborate with others passionate about Entrepreneurship and learn from their experiences.
In her free time, Jessi enjoys training dogs, volunteering as a college application mentor and baking with her roommates. Presently, she is training her newest adopted dog, Mellony (named after Carnegie Mellon).
Tepper School of Business, B.S. in Business Administration, anticipated 2023
Alex is an entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of AGIS Media, what he describes as “not your daddy’s marketing agency”. He helps scale direct-to-consumer brands around the world using leading digital marketing strategies. Alex is a rising junior at CMU pursuing a business major and an entrepreneurship minor. He spends most of his time procrastinating on schoolwork while trying not to procrastinate on his business.
Having grown up with two serial entrepreneurs for parents, Alex learned what it’s like to grow a business and developed a passion for it from a young age. After spectacularly failing at 5 business ideas, he decided to put down the tub of pity ice cream and use the marketing skills he had learned to start his advertising agency.
In the future, Alex hopes to be one of the leaders in the digital marketing industry and eventually found his own venture capital firm/studio. Hopefully along the way, he’ll start at least one of the many stupid business ideas he has in his head and have a lot of fun doing it!
Haoyang (Tiger) He
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, anticipated 2023
Haoyang (Tiger) He studies Electrical and Computer Engineering, with intended minors in Robotics and Machine Learning. He believes that the future lies within the innovations and advancements of technology, as well as the innovative applications of technologies in various fields. His academic interests include Robotics, Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Software Engineering. In fields of technology applications, he is really interested in robotics automations in everyday life, as well as possibilities of AI assisted creativity and content generation.
Growing up in Shanghai during the start of the 21st century, he witnessed how technological advancement and innovations transformed his hometown into one of the most developed cities in the world. The constant emergence of new innovations in everyday life in this vibrant city nurtured his innovative mindset and led him to believe in the unlimited potential of technological innovations and entrepreneurship. His entrepreneurial journey began in high school, where he founded a project focusing on programming education.
On campus, he is the President of CMU Summit on U.S.-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He oversees all activities of the organization, including the preparation of the 10th CMU Summit, and was deeply involved in the preparation of the 9th CMU Summit as Conference Panel Director. He re-energized the organization, rebuilding the team from less than 10 old members to more than 60 active members. He also expanded upon the original scope of the organization, collaborating with entrepreneurial student organizations from other prestigious universities throughout the world, and established a vibrant community for international communications and collaborations in fields of technological innovations and entrepreneurship.
In summer 2019, he worked at ZhenFund, one of the largest Chinese local angel-stage venture capital fund, as Investment Intern, during which he evaluated more than 50 front-edge tech startups by direct communications with the founders as a venture capitalist. His experience from the investor side allowed him to see the field of entrepreneurship from a different perspective, and enhanced his understandings of requirements and risks of entrepreneurship.
From summer 2020 to winter 2021, he spent a half year working at bilibili.com, one of the most dominant video streaming platforms in China. He worked as a Software Engineer Intern in the company’s newly founded Computer Vision Group, during which he took charge of the development of a generic object tracking algorithm for deployment. He also spearheaded the exploration of CI/CD adaptations within the group to better adjust to the group’s needs. His experience at bilibili allowed him to gain more industry knowledge, and helped him realize the huge potentials AI-assisted creativity and content generations in the near future.
In his free time, he considers himself a more artistic person than an engineer. He loves to spend time thinking about the meaning of life and contemplating philosophical questions. He is also a big fan of skiing, despite growing up in a more southern city.
Yusufbek Nasriddinov is a young man who wants to make revolutionary impacts on society. He is pursuing a Business Administration major with Business Analytics and Finance concentrations, and minoring in International Relations & Politics. He is curious about Business, Technology, Finance and Politics.
His tremendous passion for technologies begun during his secondary school when he was studying physics, and his first-ever entrepreneurial journey was in his 14s. He has been developing both soft and hard skills that will help him in his pursuit of his dreams. He thinks that consistent learning, gaining experience, networking and achieving results are the key factors of being outside of his comfort zone.
Last summer, he was interning as a Business Development Executive in one of the fastest-growing tech companies in Qatar. He assisted the CEO to inject an investment (Series A). For 8 months, he has been working in a consulting company as a business consultant. He does business plans, feasibility studies and valuations of the different companies and projects.
Currently, he is busy with various projects outside of his university curriculum. He is working on an Edtech startup project and building the MVP with his team. He also has started working on a Fintech project, which is a platform that automatically calculates inheritance allocations based on Islamic jurisprudence. Moreover, he is a co-author of a book with his entrepreneur mentor, which will be published in 10,000 copies next month.
When he found out about the Innovation Scholars program, its aims, members and activities; he said to himself if there was only one club or program at CMU to choose from, I would choose the Innovation Scholars program because being in a place where people around you innovate is one of the fundamental steps that should be taken to find like-minded people.
John (Jack) Winters
Tepper School of Business, B.S. in Business Administration, anticipated 2023
John (Jack) Winters is an entrepreneur pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration with a Data Analytics concentration. Jack is passionate about exploring emerging technologies, specifically AI and Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality, and their positive impact on society.
Growing up in Austin, Texas, Jack’s entrepreneurial journey started in 6th grade selling homemade ice cream at University of Texas football games. His passion for entrepreneurship stair-stepped in high school when he co-founded WingMate, which manufactured a reusable date rape drug detector disguised in multiple form factors.
Jack has worked for a series of startups, including Rally For Safety (crowd-sourcing community safety) and Rocket Distributors (a global personal protective equipment distributor). Jack currently works at PostReality, an Augmented Reality company revolutionizing information delivery and educational presenting. He is also pursuing a new venture with fellow CMU students leveraging AI and American Sign Language.
Outside of work, Jack enjoys golf, tennis, running and landscape photography. At CMU, he is a mechanic and pusher for the Sigma Phi Epsilon’s fraternity’s buggy racing team, an undergraduate consulting club member and an undergraduate entrepreneurship association member.
Jack aspires to grow as an entrepreneur, learning from others’ experiences and bonding with all the Innovation Scholar cohorts and the greater CMU entrepreneurial community.
School of Computer Science, B.S. in Computer Science, anticipated 2023
Steven Wu is a computer science major with an intended concentration in Robotics and minor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Motivated by his passion for what the limitless potential of technology can achieve, Steven is interested in applying modern innovations to update our approaches to traditional societal problems.
In summer 2020, Steven interned at Raven Industries as part of a recently acquired agriculture tech startup, where he developed autonomous path planning for tractors. This experience gave him an appetite for the wide spectrum of issues that robotics technology has yet to properly tackle; Steven plans to pursue his entrepreneurial/tech interests within these old-school industries, such as agriculture and transportation.
As an Innovation Scholar, Steven hopes to connect with established and budding entrepreneurs and hear the diverse ideas they want to bring to fruition. Steven strongly believes the best way to gain insight about the world is through other people - he's always down to chat with someone new and hear their story!
At Carnegie Mellon, Steven is a buggy mechanic in Fringe, the software lead of RobOrchestra and a member of CMU Cyphers. In his free time, Steven enjoys blogging, reading up on history, and calling/playing video games with his friends.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, anticipated 2023
Audrey Young is studying Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering and is passionate about sharing knowledge and finding creative solutions to problems that our society faces. Her most recent project is an international tutoring business that she started in May 2020. Through this business, she is working to provide academic support for students regardless of socioeconomic status by working with other current university and high school students.
Outside her tutoring business, Audrey works hard to make sure she is involved with the community at Carnegie Mellon. Along with her studies, she is part of several student government organizations and will be a Residential Assistant for the Fifth Clyde during the 2021-2022 academic year.
Through the Innovation Scholars program, Audrey hopes to expand her tutoring business to areas where academic support is limited by implementing a buy-one, give-one program. Additionally, through encouraging tutors to volunteer some of their time, her business will offer sessions to underprivileged students.
In her free time, Audrey enjoys playing volleyball with the Women’s Volleyball Club and working on art projects. She also spends time playing with her three dwarf hamsters, Regimald, Pancake and Mochi.
Dietrich College, Self-Defined Major, anticipated 2023
Nancy has spent time in various departments at CMU and loves to notice the connections and speak the language of the different fields. In her free time, she loves studying computer history, simulation theory, and watching films as a media reflection of society.
She knows a little too much about the history of CMU.
2022 Innovation Scholars
Human-Computer Interaction/Dietrich College in Pyschology, B.S. anticipated 2022
Dominique Aruede is the CEO and co-founder of Eko, an educational media creation company committed to uplifting young African leaders. She double majors in Psychology and Human-Computer Interaction and minors in Design for Learning.
Since childhood, Dominique has always had a passion for identifying and solving gaps in the quality of life of people; that is what led her to independently conduct behavioral research on treatment for Alzheimer’s disease for two years at New York Medical College. She has also worked with special needs children ages 3-5 as a teaching assistant, and her love for forming connections with people has only grown since then.
People hold the secrets to the universe through their needs, their behaviors, and their cognition. It’s unbelievable that that can actually all be organized on a spreadsheet and turned into tangible solutions that change lives. As a woman who originated from the beautiful state of Lagos, Nigeria, Dominique resonates with how difficult it can be for marginalized folks to succeed while under-resourced, and if she can contribute even a little bit through technology to the facilitation of people’s lives, making it easier for them to achieve their goals, that would be everything.
Honghao (Tom) Chen
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, anticipated 2022
Honghao (Tom) Chen is a sophomore majoring in Electrical & Computer Engineering. Since his childhood, he has been inspired by the fact that one after another miracles in his favorite sci-fi movies became reality. At the same time, he is also concerned about the environmental crises that used to only exist in movies but are happening in real life due to the environmental damages caused by human activities. Therefore, Tom is a passionate learner of A.I., machine learning and robotics. His goal is to apply his knowledge in these fields and his engineering skills to develop new technologies that make human life more efficient and eco-friendly.
During his freshman year summer, Tom interned at TalkMeUp Inc. as a product development engineer intern. On campus, he is a member of US-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Association. From these experiences, Tom not only acquired valuable skills, including web development and business communication, but also recognized the value of teamwork and networking. He realized that behind every successful business and a good technology, there is always a team instead of a single talented individual. Consequently, to achieve his goal of developing a new environmentally positive technology, Tom is excited to network and meet people with diverse skill sets and a shared passion of innovation.
Tom believes that the Innovation Scholars program is a strong starting point for his networking with peers that share his same passion in technology and industry leaders that have great experience. He would also like to share his experience of product development with his fellow Innovation Scholars.
Dietrich College, B.S. in Statistics and Machine Learning, anticipated 2022
Samarth Gowda is studying Statistics and Machine Learning with a minor in Business Administration. He loves to work on interesting problems facing students, especially in higher education. He is the founder of Pralent, a platform that allows university students to work on company backed technical challenges to build their real-world skills and portfolios. Pralent also allows students to showcase their past projects from hackathons, courses, clubs and side hobbies in an easy to use profile, helping students stand out from the crowd when it comes to hiring.
During his freshman year, Samarth joined the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association and is the current President of the club. Throughout his time at the UEA, Samarth has helped grow the club’s leadership, expand its programming and reach, as well as grow its flagship competition, the CMU Venture Challenge to over $20,000 in total prizes.
In his free time, Samarth loves to work on side projects, learn new skills, play tennis and cheer on the Philadelphia Eagles! He hopes to grow as an entrepreneur and leader during his time as an Innovation Scholar.
B.S in Statistics and Machine Learning, minor in Computer Science, Dietrich College, anticipated 2022
Sanjana Jobalia is a rising junior who is studying Statistics and Machine Learning and is minoring in Computer Science. She is very interested in programming and software development and enjoys trying to solve existing problems around her by implementing technological solutions. Her interests lie in Augmented Reality and Machine Learning and she is very passionate about improving the standard of living for individuals by creating technology that mimics human behavior.
Sanjana was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has lived in 4 cities since then, including her current home, Mumbai, India. All her travels have allowed her to learn new languages and interact with people who have inspired her to be a spoken word poet, public speaker and writer. ‘People are made of stories’ she says and hopes to be able to bring these stories to the world.
Self-empowerment and women-empowerment are very important to Sanjana, and they have found their way into most of her performances. She has given two TEDx talks on her journey towards accepting her learning disability among other insecurities and has performed during multiple occasions including the HeForShe UN movement. She has also been involved in starting medical camps in two villages in India, so that the girls in the village can be self-reliant. Since then, Sanjana has worked on several projects that aim to help people, including a platform that allows students to code in their native language, and has used this platform to teach young girls in India how to code.
In her free time, Sanjana enjoys singing, watching Shark Tank, and is a part of a nationally competing dance group on campus.
Tepper School of Business, B.S. Business Administration, anticipated 2022
Oscar Kavanagh is a sophomore at the Tepper school with a working passion to enhance society’s state of affairs, including sustainability, education standards and human expression. Born in Ireland, Oscar grew up in rural South Dakota, going on to found Farm One (F1), a business intelligence startup accelerating the advent of agricultural sustainability. From its inception during Oscar's time in high school, F1 has grown to serve clients throughout the upper Midwest, saving large-scale farming enterprises over 20% of their energy and operational budgets within 4-6 years.
Oscar is also the director of Funding for Reservation Education and Equality, more commonly known as the FREE Nonprofit, which fights to lower the great disparity of K-12 education and living conditions between Native American Reservations and the rest of the United States. Managing a small team, Oscar has raised over $35,000 towards school improvements and the committing of textbooks, learning tools and other supplies. His work has been recognized by the Spirit of Community Awards and the United States Presidential Scholarship.
At Carnegie Mellon, Oscar enjoys the pursuit of extensive academic interests. Beyond his schoolwork, he conducts academic research in multiple departments, writes articles covering economics, literature and technology, and works to engage the undergraduate community in dialogue and self-starting through his executive role at the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association, which operates out of the Swartz Center.
At the end of the day, Oscar is invested in people and highly appreciates those who take initiative to tell their story, challenge his assertions, and serve a higher purpose.
School of Design, Bachelor in Design in Environments Design, anticipated 2022
Dorcas Lin is an environments designer interested in the integration of creative and civic technology as a platform to better serve communities at scale.
Whether it's designing social systems that foster meaningful engagement or rethinking how we approach public policy, she enjoys thinking through complex problems to better shape and share her interpretation of our built environment.
Dorcas’ philosophy is guided by the belief that her work is only as strong as its connection to people, so she creates in hopes of speaking to the value of the intrinsic emotions and impulses in which we find common ground, differences and all the wonderful aspects that make us human.
As an Innovation Scholar, Dorcas is excited to collaborate with other passion-driven people in designing thoughtful experiences and environments that propel narratives between people and the things they use through authenticity and trust.
Currently, she is studying Design for Environments at CMU’s School of Design with an additional minor in Cybersecurity and International Conflict.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, anticipated 2022
Grayson Moyer is studying Electrical and Computer Engineering with an additional major in Robotics. He loves to learn how things work, and has a passion for hands-on projects. Grayson enjoys coming up with creative applications of technology, and wants to invent robotic systems that make a big impact on everyday life - ideally in or around the home.
Grayson was an Electronics Integration Engineering Intern for General Electric in the summer of 2019, and looks forward to working for his parents’ engineering consulting company and on independent robotics projects during the summer of 2020. On campus, he has done research in the Biorobotics Lab, he is the design lead of the CMSR Optimization team, he plays on the club basketball team and he is the upcoming VP of the HKN Honor Society.
By becoming more involved with the amazing entrepreneurial community centered here at CMU, Grayson sees the opportunity to build on his accomplishments and take his passions in exciting new directions with the guidance and collaboration of motivated innovators.
Tepper School of Business, B.S. Business Administration, anticipated 2022
Awa is the founder and CEO of ZODAJ, a tech startup geared towards improving standards of living in Africa through technological innovation. She chose to attend CMU with a goal of acquiring the skills necessary to affect positive change in the developing world with the use of new and innovative technology. Awa formed ZODAJ during orientation week in her first year at CMU. She double majors in Business Administration and Chinese Studies.
With a goal of gaining a better understanding of the ways in which advances in business and technology can uplift a nation from widespread poverty to global superpower status; she spent a summer in China learning about business and technology practices in China and learning Mandarin.
Since her freshman year, Awa has raised over $25,000 for her startup. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, ZODAJ deployed a specialised task force to work in conjunction with the Senegalese government to develop a contact tracing system that could also fully operate offline.
In her freetime, Awa enjoys reading and writing and is currently writing her first fiction novel. Awa believes that books are the greatest tool for testing and improving one's knowledge and understanding of the world.
Dietrich College, B.S. in Statistics, 2022
Nadina Popoviciu is a sophomore studying Statistics with an additional major in Social and Decision Sciences and a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as part of the Science and Humanities Scholars program and IDeATe. She is passionate about data, people and finding ways to combine the two to make an impact.
During the summer in 2019, she worked with Vantage Point 360, a digital marketing startup, expanding her experience in the marketing realm while also discovering her passion for entrepreneurship and working in startup environments. She has also attended several leadership conferences over the past few years, working with refugees through Humanitarian Affairs Asia at the 10th University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Kuala Lumpur, as well as disaster relief through the International Orthodox Christian Charities in Minneapolis and the Florida Keys.
At Carnegie Mellon, she works as a Research Assistant in the Social and Decision Sciences department, and is also involved in multiple organizations, including the Romanian Students Association (as President), International Student Union (as upcoming Vice President), Tisbert Sketch Comedy (as Secretary) and Science Olympiad – and in her free time, she loves to work out, rock climb, travel and meet new people!
Akwellé (Q) Quaye
Dietrich College, B.S. in Statistics, anticipated 2022
Akwellé (Q) Quaye is a sophomore studying majoring in Statistics.
Q is the Deputy Executive Officer for The ZODAJ Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on improving standards of living across the African continent through direct action and work with people on the ground. The foundation’s partnership with CMU CS Academy, a free, world-class, online high school computer science curriculum, has allowed them to spread programming education to schools across Senegal.
Q is very passionate about education equity, specifically in the K-12 field, and believes that data collected with every student in mind is key to creating a world in which every child on the planet has access to the best plethora of learning opportunities. In addition to the work with ZODAJ, Q sits on the board of TECH-nique, a nonprofit organization founded that focuses on empowering young women of color through technological opportunities to advance their communities.
When not working, Q loves to write poetry, try out new recipes and restaurants, and work with on-campus social organizing groups such as CMU Against ICE and CMU Labor Coalition.
Tepper School of Business, B.S. Business Administration, anticipated 2022
Nadia Susanto is pursuing a major in Business Administration with a concentration in Business Analytics, and pursuing a double major in Human-Computer Interaction. She is also pursuing two additional minors: Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Societal and Human Impact of Future Technologies.
Nadia is the founder of Bivi, an educational platform that aims to mentor and support international high school students in their search for higher education by utilizing the untapped potential of current college students. She is starting out in the Southeast Asia region, but hopes to expand her services to support more international students tackle the dreaded college admissions process.
At Carnegie Mellon, she is also the President of 180 Degrees Consulting, a varsity athlete on the Women’s Golf Team and a member of Alpha Kappa Psi. In her free time, Nadia loves to play poker, watch and play other sports, and spend time with her friends.
Nadia is very excited to be an Innovation Scholar and to immerse herself in the amazing ecosystem that the Swartz Center has fostered. She cannot wait to meet others who share her same passion for entrepreneurship and innovation, and will leverage this opportunity to pursue her lifetime goal of being an entrepreneur and making the world a better place.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. inChemical Engineering, anticipated 2022
Frank Wang is a sophomore studying Chemical Engineering with a minor in Business Administration. Instead of limiting himself to a specific realm of knowledge, Frank keeps an array of interests that allows him to come up with unique and insightful ideas when approaching a problem.
Before discovering his interests in business and entrepreneurship, Frank had a particular academic background. He was an undergraduate researcher at North Carolina State University, studying controlled drug-delivery using single-network nanoemulsions from 2018 to 2019. Furthermore, he actively engages with the ChemE community through the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).
Since coming to CMU and participating in the Swartz Center, Frank saw his true passion for entrepreneurship. He hopes to use his skills and knowledge to bring people together. By becoming an Innovation Scholar, Frank sees an opportunity to explore new directions for his entrepreneur endeavors and learn from world-class innovators and entrepreneurs.
2021 Innovation Scholars
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Robotics and Human-Computer Interaction, anticipated 2021
Connor Colombo is the founder of Ottia, a 3D printing and robotics company, and a CMU senior studying Mechanical Engineering with additional majors in Robotics and Human-Computer Interaction.
Connor first founded Ottia when studying at Case Western Reserve in 2016 with the goal of making the technologies that power the “maker revolution” accessible to as many people as possible. This ambition grew out of the work he did for the small business he founded in high-school, selling 3D-printing and design services out of his basement to those who wanted to use the technology but couldn’t afford the high cost and time required to use the machines.
When not working on Ottia, Connor is either running or doing work for the software engineering team for CubeRover, for the first private lunar rover landing in 2021. He is also working on applying some of Ottia’s actuator technology towards automating food production through the Robotics capstone sequence.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, anticipated 2021
Shayan Gupta is a junior in Electrical and Computer Engineering with an additional major in Biomedical Engineering. Driven by passions in healthcare and serving others, Shayan has been interested in developing medical devices to increase access to affordable healthcare solutions worldwide.
Shayan soon became involved in entrepreneurship programs at CMU to bring his ideas to market. As a result, Shayan founded Audition Technology in 2019 to develop accessible, affordable and quality hearing technology.
Shayan is passionate about investigating, discovering, and implementing patient needs, needs that have been gleaned from his ongoing customer discovery. He believes treatments for health disorders, including hearing loss, should be as personalized as possible to increase the
accuracy and precision of treatment as well as patient engagement. In addition to user-focused medical device development, Shayan is interested in the use of health data to offer personalized software solutions for diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment of medical disorders.
Outside of his startup, Shayan supplements his engagement in healthcare as the incoming president of CMU’s undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Society. In his spare time, Shayan enjoys swimming and giving back through community service.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, anticipated 2021Ishaan Jaffer is a junior in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a minor in Machine Learning. Ishaan is passionate and interested in computer systems, data science, web and application development, machine learning, blockchain, using technology to improve lives, beautiful design, entrepreneurship and swimming.
After his freshman year he interned at Telenav as a Software Engineering Intern and worked on creating a Content Management System. That summer he also worked remotely as a Software Engineering Intern for Vytality - one of 25 companies accepted to Y Combinator’s Startup School. During the summer of 2019 he worked at Credit Suisse as a Technology Analyst, Software Engineer and Project Manager. He worked with the big data, data analytics, product control technology teams.
Ishaan hopes to use the Innovation Scholars program to learn and grow as an entrepreneur. He is working on using his skills and background to launch a hackathon in his hometown of Mumbai.
Dietrich/Heinz College, B.S./M.S. in Information Systems Management, anticipated 2020
Paris is heavily involved in the Pittsburgh entrepreneurship community and has a passion for all things technology. Cybersecurity, IoT, self-driving cars—it all excites her.
She is the founder and CEO of Pairi Inc., an “end-to-end” solution for freelance beauty professionals (i.e. cosmetologists, estheticians, barbers, etc). Pairi takes beauty professionals from "I want to work for myself doing what I love" to "I work for myself, do what I love and am financially stable” at <5% of the usual startup costs and 25% of the usual startup time.
In the future, Paris hopes to expand Pairi into other creative occupations that intersect with the beauty industry such as modeling, photography, film, floristry, etc.
Fun Fact: The name “Pairi” did not originate from the founder’s name “Paris". It was originally named “Matchi” (as in matching people) but the team sold that domain to a Swedish racquet-sport company to help bootstrap the startup. The closest alternative to matching was pairing, hence “Pairi”!
College of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, anticipated 2021
Sachi Shah is an artist interested in the intersection between traditionally creative fields like Fine Arts with contemporary practices of Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship. She is a junior at CMU pursuing a self-defined major in order to synthesize her interests and blend the boundaries between disciplines. Sachi comes from a painting and drawing background, and has more recently found ways to push art-making into a collaborative realm with musicians, engineers and small business owners. She is motivated to find ways for art to exist outside an institutional gallery setting - to facilitate communication between the Art world and its surroundings.
Sachi hopes to connect with visionaries to collaborate in novel ways; from mural-making, to marketing campaigns. She aims to expand on these collaborative networks in her hometown of Singapore, and eventually establish a startup dedicated to connecting like-minded creatives with opportunities and an ever-evolving community.
Tepper School of Business, B.S. Business Administration, anticipated 2021Alessandra is pursuing a major in Business Administration with an IDeATe minor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Her interest in entrepreneurship spans multiple industries including finance, technology, food and fashion. She hopes to pursue entrepreneurial ventures through intersecting these industries as well as get more involved in the Carnegie Mellon and Greater Pittsburgh entrepreneurial community. Alessandra is excited to learn, meet new people, and leverage her position as an Innovation Scholar to grow personally and professionally, and give back to the local community. She plans to begin her entrepreneurial ventures in the upcoming year and step out of her comfort zone.
On campus, she is involved in Carnegie Mellon’s Varsity Track & Field Team, Alpha Kappa Psi and the Carnegie Leadership Consultants. During summer 2019, she did corporate strategy for a financial services firm.
B.A. & B.S. Field Of Study B.A. in Behavioral Economics, Policy, and Organizations & B.S. in Policy & Management, anticipated 2021Greg is a third-year senior studying behavioral economics with a wide range of interests - psychology of decision-making, modern history, international law, politics, and of course, entrepreneurship.
Greg's first business, and the one with by far the best profit margin, was selling leaves he's just found on the ground to adults puzzled by a five-year-old holding out a leaf and asking for money. As Greg started college (coinciding with a decline of the leaf market), he marched into the Swartz Center - then still in Posner - and declared his intention to start an extracurricular debate school. For two years, this school has been operating, with dozens of students, enabling Greg to re-invest in the leaf market.
Setting aside a half-dozen half-baked entrepreneurial attempts & failures, this summer, Greg completed an Israeli pre-incubator program, Excel Ventures. On a team of four, Greg helped to co-found a startup which seeks to enable companies to send interactive emails, creating a web-like email experience for the consumer and increasing email marketing conversion for the company. The startup is currently running a pilot with a major Israeli fashion brand. With a team of three Israelis and Greg, Greg makes all America proud.
Greg is currently working on this startup (yet to acquire a permanent name), studying abroad in Oxford (he's almost fluent in English, now!), and writing a thesis about the psychology underlying authoritarianism. Greg plans on attending law school, perhaps taking a few years between undergrad and law school to work on his startup. Greg finds writing in the third person incredibly awkward (and self-aggrandizing, but he doesn't mind that so much).
Tepper School of Business, Business Administration, B.S. anticipated 2021
Siwei Xie is pursing a degree in Business Administration at the Tepper School. Based on her passion in fashion startups and VCs, she took a gap year to work at YCloset, the leading subscription-based fashion e-tailer with a rent-to-buy model, as well as ZhenFund, one of the top early-stage investment firms in China. At YCloset, Siwei was in charge of business development and merchandising, which provided a solid hands-on experience when she switched to an investor focusing on B2B supply chain and fashion startups. Now Siwei is launching and operating her own cross-border fashion e-tailer, aiming to bridge the gaps between China’s underserved fashion market and global high-quality brands.
2020 Innovation Scholars
College of Fine Arts, School of Art, IDEATE, Minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, anticipated 2020
Coco is pursuing a major in art with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship in Carnegie Mellon’s interdisciplinary Ideate program. She has gained experience in venture creation at Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures working as an experience design intern on a large product build. Passionate about building sustainable business models in the arts, Coco has spent years volunteering and working at arts non-profits and galleries in Seattle. She is currently partnering with Casa de Cultura, a community art studio in Estelí, Nicaragua to create a business initiative to ensure futurity for arts education and access for youth and their families. She is excited about leveraging the strengths of business and art to create more innovative, empathetic, and sustainable solutions.
College of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, anticipated 2020
Erin is a Junior in Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts. While previously pursuing a career in architecture, through additional coursework and life experiences, she has discovered a passion in the cross-sections of innovative design and tech. She is highly involved in, and holds many leadership roles within her sorority, Alpha Phi; she also serves as a mentor in the Architecture Peer Mentor Program through the School of Architecture. This past summer Erin worked as a Digital Marketing Intern at Gates Corporation in Denver, Colorado. She played a role in the development and launch of their new website.
She is hoping to meld her creative background with her current courses in Computer Science and Tepper. Highly energized by hands-on experiences, Erin is excited to use the Innovation Scholars Program to push herself and discover.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering minor in Business Administration, anticipated 2020
Hunter Hartshorne is a junior at Carnegie Mellon, pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Business Administration. Hunter is passionate about product design and innovating in the renewable energy space. He loves bringing his ideas to life through design and manufacturing and would like to continue to expand his ideas on the entrepreneurial side. Recently Hunter has been focusing much of his time on his startup Hillside Hydro a portable hydroelectric generator. They currently have utility patent and are working with a research facility to apply their technology in the field. Hunter is excited to work with the other Innovation Scholars and build relationships in the greater Pittsburgh entrepreneurial community.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science, anticipated 2020
Jason Huang is a rising junior in the College of Engineering and is passionate about entrepreneurship and creating solutions that can solve problems and define the future. He has interned as a machine learning intern for Falkonry, a startup based in the Silicon Valley that focuses on the development of a product that provides data analysis for their clients to discover hidden patterns and provide early warnings to the operations team. At CMU, Jason is also heavily involved in the entrepreneurial scene, having co-founded a startup as a freshman that focuses on building a more streamlined platform for the senior care industry. During his free time, Jason also enjoys singing and playing the violin, and also likes collecting sneakers.
Dietrich College, Statistics and Machine Learning, B.S. anticipated 2020
Aaron has been an active participant in the blockchain space since 2013 as both a developer and speculator. In 2017, he began working on Cryptonet Technologies LLC, with the goal of creating a decentralized financial decision-making protocol. To further subsidize development, in 2018 he started a technology consulting service offering business solutions for blockchain integration, contractual programming and web development.
Since February 2017, Aaron has maintained a blog on Artificial Intelligence, ML, and Blockchain research and intersectionality, with the goal of creating digestible content that can be enjoyed by as many people as possible, regardless of education level (alebml.com). Aaron is passionate about the idea that Artificial Intelligence will grow to become one of the most important technologies humans have ever developed, and plans on contributing as much as possible to developing the field in a way that minimizes the negative externalities implicated by an increasingly automated world.
Tepper School of Business with a minor from the Human Computer Interaction Institute, B.S. anticipated 2020
Sofia Sill is taking a technical, yet creative path as a rising junior at Carnegie Mellon with a passion for technology that inspires people everywhere. She is pursuing a B.S. in Business Analytics with a minor in Human Computer Interaction while being an active force in the Carnegie Mellon community through her roles in the Greek community, the Highland Ambassadors, the Emerging Leaders program and the first-year orientation staff. Sofia is passionate about helping startups achieve their fullest potential and thrives in environments where cross-collaboration is encouraged. Through her on-campus research experiences and roles at various startups and organizations, Sofia embraces innovation and is excited to learn alongside the Innovation Scholars.
In the summer of 2018, Sofia interned at 21st Century Fox where she worked in the Digital Consumer Group as a Project Management intern assisting in the development and release of Fox's first direct to consumer technology product. Sofia continues to explore the technological realm and is eager to learn more about how to manage teams in tech efficiently and extend their goals to not only improve their communities, but rather, improve the world.
Carnegie Institute of Technology and School of Computer Science, B.S. anticipated 2020
Matt Spettel is the founder and CEO of InvenTower LLC, a company focused on bringing cutting edge IOT solutions into day to day life. After founding his first company, ChemiCube LLC, in high school, Matt fell in love with entrepreneurship. When not working on his startup, Matt enjoys competing in hackathons by building projects on the border of hardware and software. In 2017, Matt led his hackathon team, Carnegie’s Lemons, to become global champions at the Facebook global hackathon. During the summer, Matt works as a project manager and control systems engineer at DEKA Research and Development, working on the next generation of robotic wheelchairs. While at CMU, Matt hopes to help build involvement in undergraduate entrepreneurship and work closely with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
School of Computer Science with a Minor in Human-Computer Interaction and 5th-year Machine Learning Masters, B.S. anticipated 2020
Susan Wu is Junior from New York City who is exploring the intersection of business and technology with entrepreneurship. Specifically, her interests lie at the junction of Machine Learning, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design as they relate to the connected car effort and smart spaces.
After her freshman year in 2017, Susan interned at Qualcomm Technologies as a Software Engineering Intern on the 5G/LTE team and streamlined issue triaging. The next summer after her sophomore year, she interned at Microsoft as a Software Engineering and Program Management Intern on the Azure Cloud, Supply Chain, and Provisioning team and worked on optimizing the cloud supply chain. Additionally, since joining her freshman year, Susan has a been a Venture Partner for Contrary, a decentralized, university focused venture capital fund, and now leads the pod at CMU. In her role, she has guided countless entrepreneurs, successfully sourced a deal that was signed as a portfolio company, and dove deep into CMU and Pittsburgh's entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Within the Carnegie Mellon community, she is a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Psi Co-Ed Professional Business Fraternity and Women's Club Ultimate Team. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, rapid prototyping, and staying active. She's always down to travel, explore new experiences, and meeting new people.
(Ethan) Zining Ye
School of Design and Human-Computer Interaction Institute, B.S. anticipated 2020
Ethan is a rising junior pursuing a double major in Product Design and Human-computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He has great interests in applying design thinking to humanize emerging technology and create meaningful product experiences. During his freshmen summer, he worked on intelligent assistant robot and participated in the redesign of the MIT Media Lab Jibo Project. The following summer, Ethan worked as a product strategy/user experience design intern at Astroreality, a company that focuses on building educational AR products.
Besides Ethan’s experiences in design and technology, he actively worked in student organization to improve entrepreneurial skills. On behalf of the CMU Summit as vice president and conference director, he led the U.S-China entrepreneurship and innovation summit at CMU campus and another A.I summit at the Computer History Museum, Silicon Valley. During those conferences, he practiced organizational skills in leading multiple teams from planning panel/keynote topics, guest invitation to conference logistics, etc. He was also the sponsorship director for the CMU Chinese student scholar association, raising over $20,000 annual contracted sponsorship. Ethan believes the great potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and would love to work with other innovative minds.
2019 Innovation Scholars
Dietrich College, Statistics and Machine Learning, B.S. anticipated 2019
During the summer of 2017, John Curcio consulted and interned as a data scientist for several Pittsburgh-based startups. These included BlastPoint, which has developed a tool for smaller organizations to analyze high-dimensional geographic data, and BehAIvior, which is developing an AI to predict relapse in recovering heroin addicts from wearable data. John is interested in the possibilities that arise when a population of independent agents pool their data for mutual benefit, allowing for the creation of automated expert systems. He intends to use his time as an Innovation Scholar to probe this paradigm for entrepreneurial opportunity.
John maintains a medium blog, where he writes about subjects like machine learning tutorials, statistical signal processing and the economics of data
School of Computer Science, B.S. anticipated 2019
Stella Han is a junior in the School of Computer Science, minoring in machine learning. Stella is passionate about inventing the future, especially in the world of healthcare IT. She has interned as a software engineer and product manager on the Cortana team at Microsoft and is also the Microsoft-CMU ambassador. On campus, she is the co-president of the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association and the director of the CMU Venture Challenge, an international business competition that brings in top, up-and-coming start-ups from around the globe. In her spare time, Stella enjoys playing the violin and building intelligent computer-based musical instruments.
Carnegie Institute of Technology and School of Computer Science, B.S. anticipated 2019
Shuli Jiang is a rising Junior at Carnegie Mellon pursuing dual degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science. She is passionate about entrepreneurship and believes entrepreneurship is an important way of impacting the society. She has served the 6th CMU Summit, a student-organized annual entrepreneurship conference, and will continue serving the student organization in the following year. As a receiver of the Buncher Entrepreneurship Award, Shuli will spend this summer working closely with a Machine Learning startup company in Haifa, Israel as a software engineer. She’s currently leading a personal start up project, IdealHOME, a platform for DIY home design, under the guidance of CMU Swartz Innovation Center.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Robotics anticipated 2019
Jiaxuan Li is a rising junior at Carnegie Mellon, pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with an additional major in Robotics. Jiaxuan is extremely passionate about technology, especially in the smart home and wearable devices space. He loves bringing his ideas to life with innovative products and hopes to one day do the same with his visions as an entrepreneur. Jiaxuan has been involved in robotics and model rocketry since high school and continued his interest in product development with numerous personal projects at CMU ranging from gimbal quadcopters to drawingbots. During the summers, he worked as a product launch intern at Lily Robotics and worked on mechanical integration at GE Power. Jiaxuan is excited to work with likeminded individuals to not only learn about various industries but also further the spirit of innovation in the community.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. in College of Engineering, minor in Business Administration, anticipated 2019
Two summers ago, Yuqing was very fortunate to participate in a summer program in the startup nation, Israel, where she witnessed first-hand how entrepreneurs were using technologies to translate their passions and strengths into tangible social changes. It made Yuqing realize that technology, social good and entrepreneurship exemplify a holistic solution to help address many of the issues that people face today. As technology advances, we already possess many useful tools; however, we need entrepreneurship to enable technology to be made usable and useful to those who are in need. Driven by this very belief, Yuqing hopes to keep searching for better ways to effect change in more people’s lives.
School of Computer Science, B.S. anticipated 2019
William Meng is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University with a major in computer science and minors in both machine learning and robotics. He is interested in not only pushing the bounds of machine learning and artificial intelligence, but also applying these emergent "intelligent" technologies to relatively traditional industries, such as manufacturing, construction, mining, agriculture and logistics.
In the summer of 2016, William worked at RoBotany, an automated vertical farming startup that was working out of Project Olympus at the time. Since then, RoBotany has moved on to raise it seed round and settled into a 15,000 sqft production facility, while William found his passion in applying computer technology to another traditional industry--residential construction.
In the year since, William has been actively working on a project that aims to make the residential construction more efficient by utilizing the latest data analytics and operation research technologies. William believes that, one day, both residential and commercial construction can be highly integrated from end-to-end, guided by an extensive and intelligent system to deliver a level of user-experience and efficiency that would not otherwise be possible.
Tepper School of Business, B.S. anticipated 2019
Max Mirho is a rising third year student in Business Administration, taking both a focus and a minor in entrepreneurship. He currently focuses his attention on making the right connections, and has networked with many successful entrepreneurs on both the east and west coast. Previously involved in the nonprofit space, Max is currently working with a venture backed technology startup in Seattle, as well as scouting for a successful Seattle venture capitalist firm. He believes strongly in the power of both networking and intellectual property to help startups succeed, and he hopes to soon try his hand at running a startup company. In his free time, Max enjoys exploring, and he looks forward to working with every member of the Innovation Scholars closely.
Zach Zhengyuan Pan
Carnegie Institute of Technology, B.S. anticipated 2019
Zach is majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. After spending three years at CMU, he finds CMU a perfect combination of technology innovation and entrepreneur magnet. On the technology side, Zach is exploring new technologies that transform areas related to human itself, specifically healthcare and tech applications that empower humans to achieve more. On the entrepreneurship side, Zach has been committing to the CMU Summit on US-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship for two years, and will be one of the Co-Presidents next year, continuing bridging new technologies, capital, talents and new ventures from the US and China. He has met a lot of talented entrepreneurs in CMU and Pittsburgh, and believes CMU Summit is able to help them achieve more.
Sean Hengxiao Tao
School of Computer Science, B.S. anticipated 2019
Sean is a Computer Science major at Carnegie Mellon University and has always wanted to have his own tech startup. His technical interests include cloud computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence. One day, Sean hopes to create a company which utilizes these new fields to change the way we think about how to define intelligence. He has experience working at Microsoft in the Azure SRE division. Sean also likes to play soccer and watch all the Pittsburgh sports teams.
2018 Innovation Scholars
Tepper School of Business, B.S., and Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Creative Writing, B.A. anticipated 2018
David Beinhart is a second year Business Administration student with an additional major in creative writing. Passionate about interdisciplinary studies and problem solving, he has participated in numerous business case competitions and lectures given by visiting authors. With previous experience at the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership as a research intern, he worked closely with city resources to promote small business development and entrepreneurship. This summer he will study at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology where he will also be interning at a startup in Haifa. In his spare time, David loves to read, play tennis and to promote the sport of disc golf. He is excited to continue to explore new ventures through the Innovation Scholars’ curriculum, and to contribute to the entrepreneurial community at CMU.
College of Engineering, B.S. anticipated 2018
Dominique Brych is a rising junior in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon who believes that innovation and entrepreneurship are the biggest ways for her to make an impact on society. She also believes that when many people with different backgrounds and experiences come together, great ideas are born. Dominique worked as a professional magician at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and attended the performing arts high school Orange County School of the Arts, Santa Ana, Calif. for six years before pursuing engineering at Carnegie Mellon. She believes that while the arts and sciences seem different, they are really quite similar. As an Innovation Scholar, she is looking forward to exploring possibilities to create a startup that will combine these two fields.
School of Drama, BFA anticipated 2018
Kate is pursuing a major in dramaturgy at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama with a minor in business. Kate is passionate to involve creative fields with entrepreneurial ventures. She has worked for a number of theater companies focusing on arts administration and has written and directed two shows. She enjoys building new projects from scratch and in her free time, writing plays, composing and cooking. She is excited to use the knowledge she gains from the Innovation Scholars Program to develop a startup that uses creative techniques to establish innovative business models and problem-solving strategies.
Tepper School of Business, B.S. anticipated 2018
Ryan Francis is a rising junior in Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. He is currently pursuing a business administration degree with focuses in entrepreneurship and business technology, and a minor in innovation & entrepreneurship through the Integrative Design, Arts & Technology Network (IDeATe). By concentrating his academic studies in these areas, Ryan looks to combine his interests in business, technology and entrepreneurship to learn creative ways to take ideas and transform them into real-world innovations. These academic pursuits are coupled with his extracurricular work, where he has contributed to several ventures, ranging from online affiliate marketing to his most recent startup endeavor called MyBusinessGenie, a cloud based, business management platform for small to mid-sized businesses. Ryan looks forward to expanding his entrepreneurial passion further through the Innovation Scholars Program, and eventually building and running his own startup business.
Dietrich College, Information Systems, B.S. anticipated 2018
Akshay Goradia is a rising junior at Carnegie Mellon, pursuing a B.S. in information systems with an additional major in human-computer interaction. Akshay is extremely interested in startups and venture capital, and he serves as a co-editor at Requests for Startups where he writes about tech and venture. The summer after his freshman year, he gained experience working with startups from the VC side at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, a seed-stage fund and startup accelerator. Simultaneously, he worked on product in the adtech space at one of ERA's portfolio startups, MuseFind. Akshay has developed iOS applications with thousands of downloads, currently works at UPMC on an enterprise-scale data governance initiative, and will study abroad at the University of Oxford in the fall of 2016.
Dietrich College, Information Systems, B.S. anticipated 2018
Glen Wise is a rising Junior in the Deitrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences majoring in information systems with a minor in music technology. Glen’s passions have always offered guidance when choosing his extracurricular activities both at home in New Jersey and here at CMU. Since the summer before his sophomore year, he’s had the opportunity to combine his love of music and technology with an internship at LivingTonal, a fast growing audio identity firm based in New York City. Due to the startup nature LivingTonal possesses Glen’s been able to make a wide range of contributions to the business on a daily basis; from building and maintaining relationships with clients to producing and curating original content. It’s been this eye opening experience which set him on the path to becoming an Innovation Scholar. By further honing his entrepreneurial skills in this program, he aspires to be a positive force for change both on and off campus as well as within Pittsburgh’s burgeoning tech startup ecosystem.
Betty Yimin Xie
Mellon College of Science, Mathematics and Tepper School of Business, B.S. anticipated 2018
Betty is double majoring in mathematical science and business administration, and minoring in innovation and entrepreneurship. Betty is passionate and has always practiced entrepreneurship, starting in childhood. She believes that entrepreneurship is about creating products and solutions not only to please customers, but also to improve their lives. At Carnegie Mellon, she served as vice president for the fifth CMU Summit on U.S.-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship, where she recruited over 30 renowned venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, organized panel discussions and the New Venture Competition, and raised over $20,000 for the conference. She will serve as president for next year's Summit with her dedication, leadership skills and most importantly, passion for entrepreneurship. Betty's exposure to active entrepreneurs and venture capitalists throughout these experiences has further inspired her to build a startup that could revolutionize an industry after graduation. For the summer of 2016, Betty will intern at RoboTerra,Inc., a high tech educational robotics startup based in Silicon Valley. The Innovation Scholars Program will provide her with a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem in which to learn and interact with other innovators and "out of the box" interdisciplinary thinkers.
Computer Science, B.S. anticipated 2018
Angelina Zhou is pursuing a computer science major with minors in robotics, human-computer interaction, chinese, and drama. She has experience working with various startups and marketing and software development companies. She is also an instructor for the University of Pittsburgh sailing club and has a diverse background in dance and photography.
2017 Innovation Scholars
Computer Science and Art, B.S. anticipated 2017
John Choi has been learning electrical, mechanical and software engineering as well as game development for the last seven years and continues to do so whenever he can. As part of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Club and Game Creation Society, John knows what it takes to lead innovative hardware and software projects either independently or as a collective effort. So far, John has developed a 2.6-ft humanoid robot for use in animation research, and it is already being used by several roboticists around the world. As part of the Innovation Scholars Program, John intends to launch a service robotics company and bolster technology in education and beyond.
Portfolio Website: johnchoi313.com
Jonathan "JD" Dyer
College of Engineering, B.S. anticipated 2017
Jonathan believes that entrepreneurs have a vital role in society summed up by Margaret Mead’s quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." Jonathan has a love for being on the ground floor of ventures and a knack for ensuring their success. In high school, he was a part of his school’s first ever championship football team and ran the school’s first ever shoe drive, raising over 500 pairs of shoes. In his time at Carnegie Mellon he helped found Alpha Sigma Phi Alpha Gamma Chapter, the fastest chartering chapter in his fraternity’s history, and ran their A Dollar Does It drive, raising over $3,200 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. Jonathan interned at Millennium Engineering and Integration in the summer preceding his sophomore year and spent the summer after his sophomore year taking courses on Arduino and working on his business ideas. He is a member of the football team and a mechanical engineering major pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship for the creative industries. With the knowledge gained as an Innovation Scholar he plans to build a startup that creates consumer products that revolutionize an industry.
Computer Science, B.S. anticipated 2017
David Lu is a junior in the School of Computer Science, with an additional major in mathematics. In his freshman summer, he built a fantasy sports startup that was backed and funded by Microsoft Ventures, and spent the summer at their accelerator program. In his sophomore summer, he worked as a computer science researcher on a NASA project, helping research and develop planning systems for NASA. On campus, David has been a teaching assistant and is currently an undergraduate researcher for the HCI Institute. David's interests lie in building products that create intrinsic value for the consumer.
Tepper School of Business, BS anticipated 2017
Michael Mawhinney is a business administration major in the Tepper School of Business, with a track in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship runs in his blood, and he began at a young age when he started a local odd jobs business with his brothers when he was eight years old. He loves every step of the entrepreneurial process and is putting them into action with a potential new startup company, LatteMatic, where he aims to provide a convenient and fully-automatic gourmet coffee maker for in-home use. Michael has strong verbal and written communication skills, putting them to use when writing and analyzing baseball in self-run websites, as well as being a songwriter in his spare time. He is also an assistant track and field coach at his high school alma mater.
Computer Science and Economics, B.S. anticipated 2017
Mohak Nahta is a junior economics and computer science double major at Carnegie Mellon. Mohak is passionate about disruptive technologies and social innovation. With the Innovation Scholars Program, Mohak looks forward to engaging with entrepreneurs at the forefront of their industries and giving back to the innovation ecosystem at CMU. In his free time, Mohak likes to read about politics and sports.
College of Fine Arts, Industrial Design, B.A. anticipated 2017
Hannah Salinas is a third-year student studying industrial design and human-computer interaction. She is interested in the role design plays in the medical
industry and integrating healthcare into the lifestyle of patients. Hannah has interned as a designer at Foursquare and Solepower on teams with programmers and engineers. She enjoys working with interdisciplinary teams and balancing seemingly crazy ideas with realistic possibilities. With the Innovation Scholars Program, Hannah anticipates jumpstarting her own company in medical design and offering whatever help she can to other students also interested in entrepreneurship. In her free time, Hannah enjoys hiking, cooking and is heavily involved with Juntos, a cross-cultural service organization.
Hannah's LinkedIn Page
College of Fine Arts, Industrial Design, B.A. anticipated 2017
Albert Topdjian is a third-year industrial design student with a minor in entrepreneurship for creative industries at Carnegie Mellon University on his journey to find ways to combine his interests in design, human interaction, biomedical engineering, and psychology. Some of Albert's experiences include working with children with autism and teaching them play behavior skills, being a research assistant for a Ph.D. candidate at Seton Hall University under Leadership in Health and Sciences, as well as working for the IDeATe program here at CMU. The Innovation Scholars Program will help Albert reach his aspirations as he believes that entrepreneurship is a great way to bridge barriers and bring people together to teach, learn, motivate and apply their passions to create something beautiful.
2016 Innovation Scholars
Tepper School of Business and Human-Computer Interaction Institute, B.S. anticipated 2016
Benjamin Alderoty is studying business and human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. Ben consults with startups about marketing, websites and methods to set their company apart. He founded theperfectfeed.wordpress.com to show people how useful Twitter can be. Ben plays varsity soccer and enjoys a leadership role in Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
College of Engineering, B.S. anticipated 2016
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Creative Writing, B.A. anticipated 2016
Eleanor Haglund is a third-year creative writing student at Carnegie Mellon with minors in psychology and Integrative Design in Arts and Technology. She has experience working in the cosmetics and health care industries. Eleanor is extremely organized and self-motivated. In her spare time, she sings in an a cappella group, cooks with her friends and volunteers as an EMT. She is looking forward to using what she learns from the Innovation Scholars Program to build a startup that creates innovative new products.
Baek Kyoum Kim
Robotics and Electrical and Computer Engineering, B.S. anticipated 2016
Baek Kyoum Kim believes that entrepreneurs with innovative ideas use their skills to add value to society in a way no one else can. As an Innovation Scholar, he focuses on technology entrepreneurship with special interests in wearable technology and bionics. Previously, Baek worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a financial technology analyst during his sophomore summer. He was also a student engineer on the Google Lunar XPRIZE team led by Dr. Red Whittaker. The team built a lunar robot that will be launched to the Moon with SpaceX Falcon 9. On campus, he is a proud brother of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity and serves on the board of directors for the Business Technology Club.
Baek's LinkedIn page
College of Engineering, B.S. anticipated 2016
Yiru Yao is passionate about interdisciplinary innovation. With her major in electrical and computer engineering and potential minors in machine learning and media design, she is constantly exploring creative ways to combine media, design, sociology and data. She enjoys working with people from different backgrounds and has been involved in several on-campus research projects including BodyTrack, Romibo and Google Lunar XPRIZE Rover Development. Most recently, she interned at TripAdvisor, working as a software engineer on the Partnership team. With the Innovation Scholars Program, she looks forward to involvement in the dynamic entrepreneurial community as a problem-solver and gap-connector.