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Horn Entrepreneurship

Building Curiosity, Fostering Hands-on Learning


The MakerGym sits at the intersection of creativity, design, fabrication and impact. This fall’s batch of Make It Happen Challenge award winners show the breadth of projects that can come to life with some thinking and tinkering. 

The Make It Happen Challenge, presented by UD MakerGym and Horn Entrepreneurship, is a University-wide, semester-long student design competition that provides grants for making and innovation, targeting ideation, proof of concept, prototyping or small batch production. In addition to financial support, students receive training, tools, materials and mentoring.

Teams submitted proposals outlining their project’s purpose, scope and funding requirements. Four teams were selected to give 5-minute pitches followed by 5 minutes of Q&A with an expert panel of judges, including UD alumna Sandra Burton, cofounder and principal of LINNE industries; UD alumnus Harry Kleiser, president of SIA Solutions; and Dr. Mohsen Badiey, faculty director of MakerSpace and Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The panel evaluated the projects for feasibility, cost effectiveness, innovativeness and overall impact potential.

The following teams won award packages, which include a monetary grant for supplies and materials, hands-on training and design consultation:

Hyperspectral-aided Soil Saltwater Intrusion Identifier
Funding Award: $3,000
Jing Yan, postdoctoral scholar, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences

The project aims to develop a rapid assessment tool to identify how Sea Level Rise affects Soil and Water Quality. With the grant, Yan will prototype a hyperspectral imaging instrument to be used to collect more detailed information on soil pore and composition. His long term goals are the integration of data driven strategies with traditional environmental sciences and the development of a practical tool for environment disaster assessment. 


Funding Award: $345
Jinay Jain, Computer Science, ‘24
Amani Kiruga, Computer Science, ‘24

Detecto is an AI-powered search robot that paves the way for fully autonomous robots integrated into the home. The grant will fund a small 3D printed prototype with programming for intelligent navigation, path planning and AI-based object detection. The team’s goal is to create a robot that can find lost items and monitor one’s home. Eventually, the project could be scaled for search and rescue tasks. 

Sewstainable Kit
Funding Award: $449.16
Miriam Keegan, MS Fashion & Apparel Studies, ‘23

This project seeks to develop a prototype for a compact sewing kit with embedded instructions, to empower self repair and prolong garment life, reducing the fashion industry's growing waste-stream. Keegan will use the grant to create a pocket size personal sewing kit with quality items essential to clothing repair like sturdy scissors, thread and buttons. In addition to the quality, what will set this kit apart from others will be the how-to resources. Through a QR code or similar embedded images, users will be able to access Keegan’s YouTube channel for simple instructions. 

Maker Club 
Funding Award: $3,000
Ethan Kempista, Mechanical Engineering, ‘22
Melissa Hickman, Mechanical Engineering, ‘22
Metehan Cebeci, Biological Sciences, ‘22

The MakerClub is an organization that seeks to foster creativity and diversify the maker community through project funding and outreach. The team intends the grant to fund initiatives to increase the visibility of the MakerGym and diversify the club. Their plan includes partnering with other Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) on events as well as supporting students’ projects. Their goal is to attract students with an interest in creative thinking and fabrication, regardless of making experience. 

The Make It Happen Challenge is an biannual competition hosted in the spring and fall semesters. For maker-related updates, reservations, and virtual tours, visit the MakerGym website.

About the MakerGym

The MakerGym is an interdisciplinary design and fabrication studio focused on student empowerment and collaboration. This creative space offers 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Router and Mill, Hand Tools, Work Benches, Sewing Machines, Water Jet and Wood Shop, which complement and provide depth to existing making capabilities on campus to support education, research, and personal growth. All students have access to our resources, including the necessary training and design consultation to help them turn their ideas into action. This is everyone’s sandbox.

About Horn Entrepreneurship

Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement at the University of Delaware. Currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US, Horn Entrepreneurship was built and is actively supported by successful entrepreneurs, empowering aspiring innovators as they pursue new ideas for a better world.

Topics: awards, competition, students, innovation