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McMillon Studio Design Teams Unveil Prototypes, Innovations at Fall 2021 Demo Day – University of Arkansas Newswire

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Ten student design teams in the McMillon Innovation Studio unveiled their prototypes and innovations earlier this month at Demo Day to more than 100 virtual attendees. 
The teams harnessed human-centered design principles to tackle myriad problems in the community that were identified through partnerships with local industry, non-profits, and across the University of Arkansas campus. Their projects ranged from expanding school-based virtual clinics and eliminating food waste, to providing residential water testing kits and an app to help restaurants recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
"Over the course of this semester I've been around 60 students who are eager to change the world we live in through innovation. What I have seen in these students is the ability to problem solve and communicate clearly," said Justin Urso, director of the McMillon Innovation Studio. 
"These skills alone are essential at any level of work, but at this time in their early careers it's remarkable to begin to see this develop and just think of how far they can go. I truly believe they can make a lasting impact." 
The design teams in the fall 2021 semester consisted of 54 students representing 22 different majors working alongside 12 industry mentors.  
Urso said four teams will move into the McMillon Innovation Studio's product teams program next semester, in which they will learn lean methodology, agile methodology, and the fundamentals of product management. The main goal of this program is to help teams produce a product that has a viable go-to-market strategy. 
One of those teams is Insomnovation, which is working toward providing natural sleep supplements via subscription service. Insomnovation finished third earlier this year in a seed-funding pitch competition hosted by the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
"After going through the Seed Funding Pitch Competition, my team felt well prepared for Demo Day," said Julia Davis, a senior majoring in business management and Insomnovation's team lead. 
"We felt very relaxed being able to showcase our work and all the progress we made since the Seed Pitch in October." 
Davis said as her team moves into the Studio's product teams, they hope to take part in the Arkansas Governor's Cup and the EMPOWER accelerator overseen by the Startup Junkie's Science Venture Studio. 
"Working with (Insomnovation team members) Nik Limperis, Wesley Smith, Masako Suzuki, and Josh Shackleton has been the most rewarding part of this semester and I am so excited to continue working with each of them," Davis said. 
Fall 2021 Design Teams: 
Community Clinic NWA 
Scope: Virtual clinics take up very little space, and they can aid students by providing a diagnosis for the appropriate medicine while the student remains on campus. How can Community Clinic NWA operationalize its virtual clinic and scale to serve local schools and districts? 
Project lead: Jose Torres, sophomore, innovation and entrepreneurship 
Team: Anahi Arguijo, junior, advertising and public relations; Robby Astle, senior, business economics; Hironobu Shima, freshman, supply chain management; Amanda Thomsen, junior, math and economics 
Mentor: Amanda Echegoyen, chief operating officer, Community Clinic NWA 
Food Loops 
Scope: Food Loops is closing the food loop by recycling food waste, which reduces the amount of food in landfills and provides stuatsinal fertilizers for local growers. How can Food Loops improve large venue event recycling efforts? 
Project lead: Olivia Pledger, senior, international business 
Team: Konoka Hattori, freshman, international studies; Steven Trinh, senior, computer science; Ryan Williams, sophomore, electrical engineering 
Mentor: Tom Rohr, CEO, Food Loops 
NOW Diagnostics 
Scope: Essential workers need a way to test for COVID-19 immunity so they know they are safe from COVID infection, can continue to work, and prevent their virtual business from temporarily shutting down. How can Now Diagnostics best market and sell COVID-19 antibody tests to nursing homes and assisted living facilities?  
Project lead: Ethan Potts, sophomore, biomedical engineering   
Team: Alex Cummings, sophomore, economics; Tiffany Dempsey, junior, mechanical engineering; Gabby Mahoney, senior, marketing; Nathania Nischal, sophomore, biomedical engineering 
Mentor: Beth Cobb, COO, Now Diagnostics  
Scope: COVID-19 decimated local businesses, especially restaurants. How can technology help restaurants recover from the impact of the pandemic?  
Project lead: Toma Tomonari, senior, computer science 
Team: Liam Behee, senior, hospitality management; Caleb Elkington-Stauss, junior, international business accounting; Ashley Valentine, junior, finance 
Mentor: Omar Kasim, founder, Con Quesos 
Scope: Insomnovation will provide a monthly subscription "sleep box" filled with natural supplements to enhance sleep, along with a blood test to detect vitamin deficiencies that may trigger insomnia. How can the company create an all-natural sleep supplement without melatonin that is more effective than its competitors?  
Project lead: Julia Davis, senior, business management 
Team: Nikolas Limperis, senior, finance; Josh Shackleton, senior, computer science; Wesley Smith, senior, business administration; Masako Suzuki, senior, marketing 
Mentor: Justin Urso, director, McMillan Innovation Studio 
Phigenics LLC 
Scope: A safe water supply is essential for communities. In the wake of several high-profile public water crises, how can Phigneics expand its tests for harmful bacteria and other water diagnostics  to a residential market? 
Project lead: Jack Norris, sophomore, computer science 
Team: Namrata Anand, junior, accounting and music; Mitchell Bylak, junior, computer science and finance; Ashwin Narayan, junior, industrial engineering; Mary Catherine Taylor, freshman, supply chain management; RyLeigh Werner, junior, supply chain management and economics 
Mentor: Mark McCoy, director, Phigenics 
Sam's Club 
Scope: The COVID-19 pandemic upended the work dynamic for most Americans. How can Sam's Club keep employees engaged, encourage collaboration and foster a creative work environment since working from home has become a viable option? 
Project lead: Hayley Felkins, senior, mechanical engineering 
Team: Virginia Hammond, junior, architecture; Sawyer Knox, sophomore, supply chain management; Tanvir Mondair, junior, economics; Nayeli Ortiz, junior, international business; Tatiana Shi Shi, senior, marketing 
Mentor: Lea Jepsen, vice president of merchandise operations, Sam's Club China 
TGG Technologies 
Scope: TGG's corrugated pallets can be transformed into a low-cost, easy-to-assemble bed frame that's recyclable. How can we expand TGG's market?  
Project lead: Wilson Strange, senior, accounting and finance 
Team: Braylon Alcorn, senior, kinesiology; Rylee Ball, freshman, architecture; Zack Lorenzoni, junior, supply chain management; Fatima Orellana, senior, mathematics; Ezequiel Tovar, senior, finance 
Mentor: Mike Finan,founder and vice president of development, TGG Technologies 
Tyson Foods 
Scope: Averting injuries to employees inside Tyson Foods' warehouses are beneficial to workers and the company. How can Tyson reduce employee injuries and vehicle breaks in the warehouse? 
Project lead: Brooke Lawson, senior, supply chain management  
Team: Azucena Carbajal, freshman, finance; William Beutelschies, junior, supply chain management; Anna Blake Lively, senior, accounting; Akeem Malky, senior, computer science 
Mentors: Adrienne Allison, director of poultry safety, Tyson Foods; Janet Hudgins, IT intern and college relations manager, Tyson Foods; Thomas Smith, developer applications, Tyson Foods 
Scope: Research showed that about 25% of Walmart customers had issues with returns. Meanwhile, the company loses $1 billion annually in returns. How can Walmart become more efficient and improve the customer experience when purchasing products or making returns? 
Project lead: Andres Balderrama, junior, finance and computer science 
Team: Carter Kirkland, senior, marketing; Andres Luna Orosca Amelunge, senior, industrial engineering; Miguel Marin, senior, international business; Josh Shackelton, senior, computer science; Landen Usher, sophomore, finance and accounting 
Mentor: Kurt Templeton, senior director of new business development, Walmart 
About the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurship experiences for students across all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio, Startup Village, and Greenhouse at the Bentonville Collaborative, OEI provides free workshops and programs — including social and corporate innovation design teams, venture internships, competitions and startup coaching. A unit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Division of Economic Development, OEI also offers on-demand support for students who will be innovators within existing organizations and entrepreneurs who start something new.  
Brandon Howard, communications and social media specialist
Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
501-707-5779, [email protected]
Please visit http://researchfrontiers.uark.edu/15083.php to see the reply from Alan Mantooth, professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering.
The University of Arkansas Community Design Center has won three national awards for a sustainable neighborhood, called Porchscapes, that they designed for the Washington County chapter of Habitat for Humanity.


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