We call upon the disruptors and freethinkers who want to defy conventional thinking and tackle global problems. Scientists, artists, engineers – and everyone in between – are encouraged to put their resourcefulness to the test.

This Ain Center competition brings together students from a variety of backgrounds to brainstorm solutions to social and cultural issues in a day-long challenge. Each year, participants tackle a different issue, guided by mentors and experts to devise a solution. Teams then present to a panel of judges. Top teams earn cash prizes.


Contact Heidi Mergenthaler, Senior Program Manager.


  • Any student (undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, postdoc) in any discipline currently enrolled at the University of Rochester is eligible to register for the Creative Collision Challenge.
  • Active UR students in good standing are eligible to receive the cash prize money.


By registering, students commit to the following:

  • Attending the Challenge event on Friday, November 10 from 10 am – 4 pm
  • Developing an actionable plan and pitch in response to the challenge prompt
  • Presenting the plan during the competition event

Cash prizes are not tax-exempt. International students may have additional holds; please contact ISO with any questions.


The below information will be distributed to student competitors prior to the Challenge date:

  • Team member assignments
  • Challenge prompt (problem statement) and link to Box folder with background information and recommended reading
  • Any last-minute details

2022 Challenge: Future of Work

2022 Mentors

  • Andrea Barrett, Assistant Professor (Clinical), UR Warner School
  • Raffaella Borasi, Professor; Director, LiDA, UR Warner School
  • Cathy Caiazza, Director, Career Curriculum Initiatives, UR Greene Center
  • Nathan Harris, Assistant Professor, UR Warner School
  • Youssef Ouenniche, Undergrad Student, Financial Economics & Data Science, University of Rochester
  • Emily Sherwood, Director, Digital Scholarship, UR River Campus Libraries
  • Elham Tajik, PhD Candidate, Education, University of Rochester

2022 Judges

  • Raiyan Abdul Baten, PhD Candidate, Computer Science, University of Rochester
  • Angela Buchiere, Assistant Director, UR Center for Advising Services
  • Nick Vamivakas, Professor, UR Institute of Optics; Dean, GEPA

2019 Challenge: Accessibility on Campus

2019 Mentors

  • Giuliano Agostinho de Castro, Class of 2021, University of Rochester
  • Andrei Borsa, Visiting Fulbright/Romanian-American Foundation Faculty, Ain Center for Entrepreneurship
  • John Cullen, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, URMC CTSI | Associate Director, UR Susan B. Anthony Center
  • Ovidiu Ghiuta, Visiting Fulbright/Romanian-American Foundation Faculty, Ain Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Brian Harrington, Director of Information Technology Services, UR School of Nursing
  • Mary Judge, Assistant Director, UR Center for Disability & Education
  • Kellie Kennedy, Director of Day Services, Arc of Livingston-Wyoming
  • Jen Prosceo, Access Specialist, UR Disability Resources
  • Scott Seidman, Professor, UR Departments of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering
  • Marianne Stepien, Self-Employed

2019 Judges

  • David Cota-Buckhout, Career Advisor, UR Greene Center
  • Catherine Lewis, Associate Director of School & Community Relations, UR Undergraduate Admissions
  • Jeff Thomas, Public Relations Director, Arc of Livingston-Wyoming
  • Amy Wight, Director, UR Office of Disability Resources

2018 Challenge: Honey Bee Colony Collapse

2018 Mentors

  • Lidia Alexa, Visiting Fulbright/Romanian-American Foundation Faculty, Ain Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Stefan Bodi, Visiting Fulbright/Romanian-American Foundation Faculty, Ain Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Lauren Caruso, Associate Director, Rochester Center for Community Leadership
  • Emma Derisi, Coordinator for Undergraduate Global Initiatives, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Ward Graham, Owner, Brighton Honey
  • Erin Masterson Holko, Owner, Masterson’s Garden Center and Beekeeper
  • Veronica Maier, Visiting Fulbright/Romanian-American Foundation Faculty, Ain Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Willa Powell, Board of Education Member, Rochester City School District and Beekeeper
  • Larry Rothenberg, Corrigan-Minehan Professor of Political Science and Director, Wallis Institute of Political Economy
  • Chris Wait, Examiner, US Patent and Trademark Office and Beekeeper

2018 Judges

  • Michael Daley, Assistant Professor, Warner School of Education and Human Development
  • Carmala Garzione, Professor, Earth & Environmental Sciences
  • Jarmila Haseler, Agricultural Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Liz Simmons, Reference Librarian at Genesee Community College and Beekeeper

2023 Winners

  • 1st Place: Lively Learning – Bohan Cui ’24, Geneva Hinkson ’23, Douglas Throop ’24S (MBA), and Mallory Winchester ’27
  • 2nd Place: AYA – Archita Amudhan ’25, Nirwana Gandhi ’25 (MBA), Daniel Thomas ’26, and Jacob Weingard ’26

2022 Winners

  • 1st Place: Air2 – Keerthi Sreenivas Konjety ’23, Caoqing Fang ’24, Anastasia Chen ’25, Joshua Jones ’25, Sudarshan Ramanan ’25
  • 2nd Place: Mahdjoy – Meina Liu ’17, Hasin Anik ’23, Yinghan Yu ’24, Derek Chien ’25, Oskar Lelko ’25
  • 3rd Place: Dr. Strong – Haochen Zang ’23, Renyi Zhang ’24, Yuka Shimazaki ’24, Archita Amudhan ’25, Rafael de Farias ’25

2019 Winners

  • 1st Place: AccessIT – Rohat Chari ’23 (BA, International Relations); Shakhlo Gaibova ’21 (BS, Chemistry); Vardaan Gupta ‘ 23 (MD/MBA); Snigdha Thummalapalli ’20 (MS, Technical Entrepreneurship and Management)
  • 2nd Place: W.A.R. – We Are Ready – Simeon Abiola ’20SMD (PhD, Translational Biomedical Science); Lila Balistrieri ’22 (BA, Business and English); B. Theophilus Mambu ’20 (MS, Technical Entrepreneurship and Management); Krishna Mythili Vusulumarti ’21S (MBA)
  • 3rd Place: Career Readiness – Vartika Aggarwal ’20S (MS, Finance); Shah Baig ’21S (MBA); Linh Hoang ’22 (BS, Biomedical Engineering); Klotoume Kromah ’21 (Biology); Tyler Knight ’20 (MS, Technical Entrepreneurship and Management)

2018 Winners

  • 1st Place: BeeHouse – Martin Helmrich ’20 (BS, Computer Science & BA, Business); Kaixin Li ’20 (BA, Brain and Cognitive Science & Digital Media Studies); Akhilesh Vithal Malge ’19 (MS, Chemical Engineering); Xinlin Zhang ’20S (MS, Marketing Analytics)
  • 2nd Place: To Bee or Not to Bee – Vatsal Agarwal ’21 (BA, Financial Economics & BS, Computer Science); Lani Chau ’19 (MS, Technical Entrepreneurship and Management); Huping Guo ’19S (MS, Marketing Analytics); Anuradha Pahalajani ’19 (MS, Technical Entrepreneurship and Management); Madison Zaelit ’20 (BA, Philosophy & Psychology)
  • 3rd Place: Bee Aware – Lennard Emanuel ’18 (MS, Technical Entrepreneurship and Management); Samuel Howard ’19S (MBA); Gregory Scott ’20S (MBA, Marketing and Data Analysis); Aman Tugnawat ’18 (MS,Technical Entrepreneurship and Management)


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