Media Advisory: McDaniel College Innovation Challenge Finals Competition April 10

McDaniel College Office of Communications and Marketing masthead.
April 04, 2017

April 4, 2017

Contact: Cheryl Knauer




Five student teams present their entrepreneurial ideas and products to a panel of experts

McDaniel College Innovation Challenge Finals Competition is Monday, April 10, 6:30 p.m., in Decker Center Forum


Five student teams compete for a $10,000 top prize ($5,500 for second place and $2,500 for third place) by presenting their entrepreneurial ideas and products to a panel of experts at the annual McDaniel College Innovation Challenge Finals.

The five finalists are: 

•    BookSwap 
Presented by seniors Brandon Cortese, a sociology major from East Windsor, N.J., Hunter Metcalf, an art major from Blain, Pa., and Dajuan Price, a communication major from Clinton, Md., as well as sophomores Maia Hanlon, a computer science and mathematics major from Madison, Wis., and Sam Hampton, a computer science and mathematics major from Delmont, N.J.

BookSwap is a mobile application used for students on college campuses to sell and buy textbooks conveniently from their peers. Rather than accessing websites and waiting days or weeks for their textbook or paying prices for new books at the bookstore, BookSwap will provide a database for students to establish their own cheaper, more convenient textbook market for their campus.  

•    D1V3RG3NT 
Presented by sophomore Zach Fortuna of Metuchen, N.J. 

D1V3RG3NT offers a more efficient way to play tailgate games using a single, all-purpose table with the option of different and easy-to-deploy set-ups that would address the inconvenience of both traveling with and storing multiple games with substantial duplicative structures. The goal of the product is to improve the overall tailgating experience and bring more people together. 

•    Ride with Pride
Presented by freshmen Justin Arter of Waldorf, Md., and Louis Schaab, a business administration major from Laurel, Md.

Ride with Pride addresses the need for accessible, affordable transportation for people with disabilities in Carroll County. Through the use of federal grants and state funding, as well as donations from charitable organizations and private donors, Run with Pride is able to provide the service to the community at a more reasonable price and with more accessibility. Different kinds of vehicles will be used for the transportation service, rather than the usual bus or van, in order to break the stigma of handicap transportation. Customers will be able to “Ride with Pride” in something a little more stylish. 

•    RunInTwo
Presented by senior Lucy Benson, a history major from Wilmington, Del., and sophomore Gavin Gibson, a psychology major from Newark, Del.

RunInTwo is a social media app that enables runners to find other runners in an area by providing live stream locations of its users. Participants can plan times to meet up and exercise, as well as earn points by completing their goals and by running past select locations, such as featured small businesses. The app also features an option where users can discover and create new trails that will be populated by other members. 

•    Service Dog Therapy
Presented by junior Peter Cory, a sociology major from Phoenix, Md. 

Service Dog Therapy is a weekly program in which service dogs are brought to a college campus to improve mental health of students and serve as a retention tool. What would make the program unique is the formation of a partnership with healthcare insurers, such as CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, United Healthcare and Aetna. The prototype program would take place at McDaniel College. Homesickness, as well as depression and anxiety, are common problems among college students. Interaction with therapy dogs has been shown as an effective means to provide relief from these problems and improve quality of life, especially for college students. 

The judges who will choose the winning teams include: 

•    Kristen Ellis has worked as a math educator, both as a teacher and as a content writer and editor. She also became an entrepreneur after winning the 2016 Carroll Biz Challenge hosted by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. Her Enter Exit Escape business, located in Mount Airy, Md., is an escape room adventure and team building experience. 

•    Kristine Harjes is an analyst at The Motley Fool, a multimedia financial services company based in Alexandria, Va. There, she manages’s healthcare content, which includes hosting the podcast “Industry Focus: Healthcare.” She graduated in 2014 from McDaniel, where she majored in math and economics, with minors in business and art. 

•    Danielle Rowlett Tate, founder and CEO of, a website that helps those newly married change their last name. She is also the author of “Elegant Entrepreneur: The female founders guide to starting and growing your first company,” a step-by-step guide to starting a business. A 2003 McDaniel alumna, she resides in Potomac, Md.

McDaniel College’s entrepreneur-in-residence Jason Stambaugh, a 2007 McDaniel alumnus, serves as the master of ceremonies. 

Four first-round judges reviewed 15 proposals submitted by McDaniel students with only five finalists selected to go head-to-head at the event, which is free and open to the public.


Monday, April 10, 6:30 p.m.


McDaniel College, Decker Center Forum  
2 College Hill, Westminster, Md. 

The McDaniel College Innovation Challenge competition is part of The Encompass Distinction, an academic program in innovation and entrepreneurship that is open to students in any major. 

By combining courses, off-campus learning experiences and mentorship for students to gain business and entrepreneurial skills, The Encompass Distinction provides students with the broad-ranging skill sets required for enterprise management. 

The program is made possible with the support of 1968 alumnus Dennis Sisco and Alexine Lesko through The Sisco Fund for Enterprise Management.

Visit for more information about The Encompass Distinction. More information about the McDaniel College Innovation Challenge can be found at  

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McDaniel College, founded in 1867 and nationally recognized as one of 40 “Colleges That Change Lives,” is a four-year, independent college of the liberal arts and sciences offering more than 70 undergraduate programs of study, including dual and student-designed majors, plus 25 highly regarded graduate programs. Its personalized, interdisciplinary, global curriculum and student-faculty collaboration develop the unique potential in every student. A diverse, student-centered community of 1,600 undergraduates and 1,400 graduate students, McDaniel offers access to the resources of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and is the only American college with a European campus in Budapest, Hungary.