Skip to content
Home » All Posts » Pacific entrepreneurs compete at PIES 2023

Pacific entrepreneurs compete at PIES 2023

Pacific’s student innovators showcased their entrepreneurial spirit and creativity at the 5th annual Pacific Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summit (PIES) April 18.

“The goal for this event is to empower our students’ entrepreneurial mindset,” said Mehdi Khazaeli, associate professor and director of the Technological Innovation Entrepreneurship program at Pacific. “Yes, it’s OK to win, but the most important things are to think about the design, solve hard problems, do patent search and find solutions that are available and build on top of them to generate some solutions that do not exist yet—and also to create a value out of it.”

Pacific’s unique combination of a smaller university that offers expertise usually found at bigger institutions is part of what makes PIES possible, according to Khazaeli. Students can tap the experience of marketing and engineering professors on the Stockton Campus as well as law professors at Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law who can offer expertise on patents.

“We have a smaller campus, but we have nine different academic units and the library. All of them are partners shaping and empowering our students to focus on multidisciplinary initiatives like innovation entrepreneurship,” Khazaeli said.

The summit consists of three segments, each exploring different aspects of an entrepreneurial journey.

Tiger Tradeshow

This year, over 60 student teams from the School of Engineering and Computer Science, College of the Pacific and Eberhardt School of Business presented their ideas for products and services. Visitors to the event at the DeRosa University Center were given five golden coins upon entry. The students prepared “elevator” speeches to engage with visitors to get their coins. “It’s like an investment in their ideas,” said Khazaeli.

The 2023 Tiger Tradeshow winners were:

  • First place: Amelia Nish ’23, engineering management; Megan Rayback ’23, civil engineering; and Kaitlyn Venegas ’24, engineering management, for The(ta) Hair Necessities, a customizable hairbrush with interchangeable bristles.
  • Second place: Kailey Espinoza ’23, engineering management, and Olivia Ong ’23, engineering management, for Greenie, a bin that uses artificial intelligence to automatically sort trash​.
  • Third place: Alex Machuca ’23, engineering management, and Curtis Hsiao ’23, engineering management, for PawTinder, a platform where pet owners can schedule play dates and communicate with one another.
  • Third place: Jeyrik Paduga ’23, engineering management; Rita Kearns ’23, engineering management; and Lily Torpey ’23, engineering management, for SunBeets, eco-friendly stylish sunglasses promoting sustainable fashion by utilizing naturally harvested beetle-killed wood.

Pacific Pitch

At this Shark Tank-style segment of the summit, pre-selected student teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. Each team had five minutes to make the case for their idea or product as a unique solution to complex technological or social problems.

The winning group included three seniors majoring in business administration management, Thomas O’Rourke, Nike Chen and Coby McCaig. They pitched an idea for Magna Glove, a magnetic glove that would benefit people with arthritis in their fingers.

The team agreed that working on the idea and the prototype was a steep learning curve in entrepreneurship and perseverance.

“I think we learned to deal with failure,” added McCaig. “There were a lot of times in the process we were trying to quit because it was just getting too tough, but we stuck with it because we still believed in it.”

“I think one thing that we all took away from it is that anything’s possible,” said O’Rourke.

Fantastic Forum

The summit is also a networking opportunity where students can share ideas, make community connections and meet professional entrepreneurs. At the Fantastic Forum, a panel comprised of Pacific alumni and local investors and entrepreneurs discussed emerging entrepreneurial needs and opportunities in the community.

“We are interested to strengthening our connection with the community because this can help students in San Joaquin County to become entrepreneurs,” said Khazaeli. “And if they’re entrepreneurs, they can help the economic development of our community as well.”

Learn more on the PIES webpage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *