University of Dayton alumnus Zach McHale won first place and $25,000 for his stadium seat device in the University of Dayton’s 11th annual Flyer Pitch competition, one of the largest collegiate-level business plan contests in the country.
McHale’s patent-pending Neet Seat is a pouch that can be attached to stadium and arena seats to hold coats and other items. McHale, a 2006 graduate who studied chemical engineering, was announced as the winner during a banquet Tuesday night after six rounds of multi-national competition featuring more than 200 teams.
On March 25, teams had 20 minutes each to pitch business ideas to a table of judges, followed by 10 minutes of questions. The judges included business advisors, investors and others involved in Dayton’s start-up ecosystem.
“The quality of the teams has gotten better year after year,” said Vincent Lewis, director of the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University. “This year’s six finalists are all fundable business opportunities, with three of the finalists already having sold some products and one already having raised some capital. It is exciting through the course of the competition to see the teams develop ideas and transform them into viable opportunities.”
More than 200 teams applied to take part in Flyer Pitch, which took place in Dayton, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Suzhou, China.
Since the competition began, 27 businesses have been launched, 20 of which are still in business today.
Second place, and $15,000, went to a former professional baseball player, Jim Ward, and his daughter, UD alumna Tiffany Pikas ’05, for their design of Hit-Grip — a patented device to help control and improve the swing of baseball players and golfers.
Third place went to a group of current UD students who developed the Solar Thermal Adsorption Refrigeration (S.T.A.R) system, an environmentally friendly refrigeration method designed for usage in areas without reliable power grids. The group was awarded $10,000.
“This is definitely the first step for us into the business world in a journey that I am sure is going to get more exciting,” said S.T.A.R. team member Claudia Labrador Rached. “I truly believe that S.T.A.R. can make an impact in the developing world, where vaccine access and health care quality are compromised by the lack of reliable supply of electricity.”
The remaining three teams tied for fourth place, winning $5,000 each.
Stander Symposium continued to grow UD’s “community of learners” Wednesday, April 5. Rooted in the Marianist tradition, Stander Symposium is an annual event dedicated to student research in all academic disciplines.
Students took their perch for poster sessions in the RecPlex while a forum for climate change ran simultaneously in Roesch Library. Oral presentations, panel discussions, performances and visual art displays were held throughout campus all day long.
For many students, Stander is a day to present capstone projects. Through the management information systems capstone course, seniors Aidan Hamor, Kyle Massie and Seth Meyer partnered with Ross Group to implement classroom knowledge of point-of-sale systems into a real-life situation.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to present to students outside of our class,” Meyer said. “To have them come and be interested in our project is really rewarding.”
A new format for presentations was implemented this year was Porch Projects. The 10- to 15-minute presentations were held on various porches in the student neighborhoods.
Senior Liz Kelsch created her own classroom and sheet sign at 464 Kiefaber to discuss The Journey of an Honors Thesis Student.
“I talked about my thesis with my friends and roommates for the past two years,” Kelsch said. “I wanted to bring the same conversation to the student neighborhood. I think it is a better way to learn about the research process than simply looking at a poster of my results.”
Held in memory of late professor and Provost Brother Joseph W. Stander, S.M., the event has been a UD staple for 28 years.
By 5 p.m. campus began to calm as the closing reception in conjunction with the Horvath Awards commenced in the Fitz Hall Radial Gallery. The Horvath Awards, begun in 1975, awards student work in the department of art and design.
On Thursday, April 6, the celebration officially concluded with a keynote address from Harvard physics professor Lisa Randall in Kennedy Union Ballroom.
Professor Camilo Pérez-Bustillo began class by asking his law students, “What does the world look like?” His students looked around blankly, so Pérez-Bustillo countered with another question, “Where do we (the United States) fit in terms of human rights?”
The answer he gave left a blanket of silence — possibly awe — over the room.
“The U.S. has been leading the global retreat of human rights since 9/11.”
The International Human Rights Law class is new this year and is co-taught by Pérez-Bustillo, executive director of the Human Rights Center and research professor of human rights and law, and Adam Todd, associate professor in the UD School of Law. The course challenges law students to analyze current laws to determine if they are in violation of human rights.
“The students studying human rights in this class will be the next generation of lawyers doing similar actions on behalf of peoples’ rights on the front lines of preserving liberty in this and other countries across the globe,” Todd said.
Pérez-Bustillo refers to the current immigration situation in Europe as, “the second biggest humanitarian crisis in terms of displaced migrants since the second World War.”
“Thousands of people have died in the desert or Mediterranean trying to get to Europe,” he continued. “One person has died every day on their way to the U.S. for the past 20 years.”
Recently, the class discussed these facts in light of the several executive orders put in place by Pres. Donald Trump since he took office.
Anita S. Teekah, a lawyer and human rights activist in New York City, started a discussion around analyzing the executive orders regarding security at our Mexican borders and the ban of entry into the country for immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Teekah asked, “Is immigration control within the executive branch or under presidential control?”
Her question led to an engaging discussion between students who are writing semester-long papers on immigration law and the travel ban executive order as they relate to human rights.
A student in the class, Emily Feliz, expressed her opinion while questioning the timing of the orders.
“Yes, immigration control is within the president’s jurisdiction, but there are discrepancies in how the orders were handled, errors in reporting and there was no consultation with the department of state which led to confusion on the ground,” she said.
The class will be offered again next fall to allow law students the opportunity to analyze the laws they will one day be upholding.
The installation of the University of Dayton’s 19th president was truly a celebration: the Faculty Brass Quintet heralded the arrival of faculty and invited guests, University of Dayton Chorale proclaimed “alleluia,” and two former UD presidents took the stage to embrace their newest counterpart.
More than 1,110 members of the campus and wider community gathered at UD Arena April 4 for the installation of Eric F. Spina as president. The celebration signaled a renewed vision for UD, one both bold and rooted in the principles of the community gathered that day.
The audience, and Spina himself, felt the historic importance of his installation as he choked back tears offering what he said was a “too meager, but deeply felt” thank you to his family, colleagues and Marianists for trusting him with the University’s future.
He retold the University’s simple origins as a primary school for 14 boys, acknowledging that the University has always been a transformative force within itself and to its surrounding community.
“Our story throughout our 167-year history has been one of both humility and boldness,” Spina said. “… The University of Dayton has quietly, yet dramatically, transformed itself by turning big dreams into bold moves — always with the common good at the center.”
And with a nod to our past, Spina spent the next 45 minutes outlining highlights of the University’s 20-year vision, which included a push for innovations in academics, research and leadership that create tangible impacts in the lives of people — to make a global statement that we are the “University for the Common Good.”
Of utmost importance was the theme of creating a diverse and inclusive campus to facilitate entrepreneurship and multidisciplinary research and enrich our personal connectedness with one another.
“By definition, excellence requires greater diversity as it enriches our learning environment and expands our institutional intelligence and creativity. … [W]e recognize a special obligation to embrace socioeconomic and racial diversity,” Spina stressed to an applauding audience.
His hope for the Class of 2037 is to produce graduates who will be inspired learners, rooted in a deep understanding of their vocation and their role in their community thanks to a UD education anchored in experiential learning.
“As innovators, scholars and builders, they will have learned how to both fail and rebound from failure. They will be culturally nimble, as they will have worked across differences in diverse communities on meaningful issues. They will be prepared for success in life because they will have gained skills in self-learning, problem-solving, collaboration and conflict resolution,” Spina said.
Part of that vision will require space for students to collaborate with faculty and local businesses, to experience real-world problems before graduating to develop confidence.
Spina revealed in his speech that future renovations at Chaminade Hall and a pending agreement as an anchor tenant of the Dayton Arcade will help facilitate that vision, creating spaces where there would be collaboration between entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, higher education, research institutions, and arts and cultural organizations.
Spina ended his talk with hopes for the future: “We view serving the community and our world as a fundamental part of our Catholic, Marianist mission … and we find that we are called to be — indeed, we must be — The University for the Common Good.”
To punctuate the excitement, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. took the stage. They danced as the tuba music bubbled, with everyone joining in clapping a joyous welcome for UD’s future.
Photos by Kristin Davis ’18, Larry Burgess and Knack For Substance photography.
UD students are provided with the B.E.S.S.T opportunities. During the January Intercession, Jan. 5-12, nine students attended the first Business Experience: Silicon Valley and San Francisco Today.
B.E.S.S.T. is a unique educational opportunity for business majors to visit corporations and major financial institutions across Silicon Valley and the Bay area.
Professors Irene Dickey and Tracy Miller, both full-time faculty in the School of Business, wanted UD students to experience the real-world issues facing their field, so they turned to former students and LinkedIn to rekindle and build new alumni connections.
Over 10 alumni opened the doors of their homes and offices to speak about their take on management and marketing to millennials. Students had the chance to visit global venture capital firm Canaan Partners, advertising software firm Sharethrough and tech firm Oracle, among other major businesses in the area.
“At all the companies we visited, they weren’t talking at us,” said junior marketing major Jamie Stumph. “Even the CEO’s were interested in hearing what we had to say.”
While in California the students immersed into the opportunity and wrote blog posts each day in reflection.
“I am leaving San Francisco today feeling inspired and motivated to go out and work to achieve all of the many goals I have,” Stumph wrote. “These people are proof that if you put your mind to something and really believe in yourself, amazing things will happen.”
Students also participated in five pre-trip and two post-trip class sessions in order to gain MGT and MKT 494 credit. They studied and presented on each company before the trip, allowing them to come prepared to ask questions and maximize the session benefit.
“Irene and I really pushed them out of their comfort zones,” Miller said. “But, I really found if you set student expectations high, they will rise to the challenge.”
To hear more about the students’ experiences, attend their Stander Symposium presentation on Wednesday, April 5 at 1 p.m. in Miriam Hall room 213.
“Not everyone can be an inventor, creator or discoverer. But everyone can be an innovator.”
Those were the words that began Nick Donofrio’s keynote address on the morning of President Eric Spina’s inauguration day, April 4.
A 44-year IBM veteran who holds seven technology patents, Donofrio addressed a to-capacity Kennedy Union ballroom on how to be a leading institution in innovation in the 21st century.
Collaboration and inclusivity were high on his priorities in explaining how institutions and businesses can thrive in today’s global climate.
He stressed the importance of understanding inclusivity when collaborating with others on ideas, because “very rarely do innovators work alone.” As he pointed to the audience members, he affirmed “Me and you— we do better work when we work collaboratively.”
He further emphasized, “When I say inclusion, I mean inclusion with a capital ‘I’….and sometimes the big ‘I’ makes you very uncomfortable.” But true inclusivity, he said, requires working with all types and kinds of individuals from all disciplines and educational levels.
And the reason: “You may never know who has the last piece of the puzzle.”
As an example, he cited the work of the late Steve Job, former Apple CEO. Having worked with him, Donofrio stated Jobs actually never invented anything, but could “study the problem better than anyone [he] ever knew.” Through this process products like the iPod and iPhone were created, which filled a public need.
And that, he says, is key to creating an innovative product
“If no value has been created, then there is no innovation,” he said. “But, value could be educational value, societal value, governmental value, country-specific value, it could be economic value. There’s so many values it could be, there’s no reason for it not to be applied. There’s all these ways for value to be created.”
As Donofrio closed, he reminded the audience of a quote from Dr. Seuss: “Why blend in when you were born to stand out?” Since standing out, he says, is what true innovation is.
The tunes of 1950’s swing music rang throughout the Central Mall April 2 as pairs of students sashayed around before introducing themselves as UD’s Swing Dance club.
The Swing Dance Club was one of 16 student organizations that introduced themselves to incoming University President Eric Spina at the “Cornhole and Student Showcase” event. The program set out to show students in action either as one of 32 teams that participated in a cornhole tournament or performing and discussing what they were individually involved with on campus.
Flyer Enterprises CEO Stephanie Bennett said, “You don’t become a well rounded student by just sitting in the classroom. It is the experiences and the different people you get to work with that truly have the biggest impact on you.”
There were demonstrations of taekwondo, presentations from the Panhellenic Council and UD Miracle, and performances from On the Fly and the a cappella group, the Audio Pilots.
President of Student Government Association, Brendan T. Sweetman, presented Spina with a framed certificate that acknowledges his presidency from the students. President Spina will be officially inaugurated on Tuesday, April 4.
Sweetman jokingly said, “Even though we thought you were president this whole time…we appreciate you and your involvement with SGA and the entire student body.”
The schedule of the events this week celebrating Spina’s inauguration can be found here.
Walnut Hills Park in Dayton was filled with children, families and University students on Sunday, April 2 — the same day as the presidential inaugural events kicked off. Members of the Walnut Hills community and UD’s Dayton Civic Scholars gathered at the park to celebrate renovation plans for the summer.
Gabi Sanfilippo ’17 and Erika Mrzlak ’17 are two members of the senior cohort for the Dayton Civic Scholars that chose to work with Walnut Hills for their senior capstone project.
“We’ve spent the last three years raising money and we’ve applied for grants and met with people in the community and figured out through the city of Dayton how we could best utilize the area,” Sanfilippo said. “We decided to put our money into the park just to make it a better gathering space.”
Because the groundbreaking will happen after the seniors have graduated, the group decided to hold a celebratory event at the park beforehand with games, food and fun.
“We wanted to get together with the community one last time before we graduate,” Sanfilippo said.
“The community is rallying behind [this project] completely,” Mrzlak said. “They’re very passionate people.”
The Dayton Civic Scholars project will give the park a face lift, including resurfacing the courts, painting court boundaries and providing and installing new equipment.
Among the group of runners participating in a 5K race April 2 in the first day of celebratory events leading up to the president’s installation were family members of University President Eric F. Spina.
Spina will be installed as the University’s 19th president on April 4. Student-led activities and scheduled speakers are planned April 2-5 to commemorate the historic event.
Reflecting on the weekend’s events from the sidelines of the race, Spina said: “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time and I’m looking forward to seeing people at the various events. The inaugural committee worked hard to try to make this a celebration of UD rather than just a celebration of me.”
On the history of the University, Spina said we should all take this chance to “pause and recognize how extraordinary it is.”
The run was sponsored by UD’s Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a service fraternity on campus, which planned the 5K run to celebrate the inauguration.