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PeoplesBank Rewards Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Western New England University

SPRINGFIELD, MA (07/27/2021) Western New England University (WNE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 PeoplesBank Award. The award, first given in 2020, is made possible by a generous grant to WNE from PeoplesBank to advance innovation and entrepreneurship across the University and the entire Pioneer Valley ecosystem.

Dr. Mary Schoonmaker, associate professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Western New England University applauds student’s spirit and innovation. “We continue to be encouraged to see the breadth of businesses that have applied for awards this year. It is rewarding to see these student-led ventures made possible through this PeoplesBank grant,” said Schoonmaker.

Matthew Bannister, first vice president, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility at PeoplesBank congratulated each of the student-business initiatives. “We are pleased that our grant could assist these student teams in continuing to develop their businesses. Small businesses, powered by entrepreneurs, are vital to the economic health of our region, and we congratulate these six new ventures and Western New England University for their efforts in this area,” said Bannister. “This is exactly what we hoped would transpire when we formed this partnership with Western New England.”

This year the PeoplesBank Award at Western New England University went to the following innovative and entrepreneurial student teams:

Jeremy Bowler, a Computer Engineering major, for his work on an Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) for small engine applications. The funding is being used to continue to advance the prototype.

Tytianie Brown, a Sciences major, runs a full-service beauty services business. Brown is using the funding for beauty services equipment.

Caleb Miller, a Mechanical Engineering major, is the cofounder of Woodside Getaways, an RV rental startup. Miller is using the funding to provision the RV and complete the rental unit, which is already booked for summer travel by Woodside’s clients.

Dante Talamini, an Engineering major, is the team leader for Frost Alert, a wearable smart device that monitors skin temperature and alerts the wearer if they are beginning to experience frostbite. The team will be using the funding to continue to advance their prototype development.

Ethan Valdes, an Entrepreneurship major with a minor in Health Sciences, is the cofounder of Bus Boiz, a social media experience startup that captures travel experiences. The team was awarded funding for a drone to assist with aerial shots from their travel adventures.

Shemika White, an MBA graduate student, is the founder of Notes of Beauty chemical free beauty products. White is using the funding to purchase materials and product testing.

Western New England University aspires to develop student’s entrepreneurial mindset with its innovation and entrepreneurial programs. Through cocurricular efforts, such as startup weekend and the Product Development and Innovation course, students are able to create innovations that have market potential. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, located on campus, is a dedicated space for student startup teams, club meetings, and makerspace for student-led innovations. Past Western New England University student teams have advanced their innovations by participating in the Harold Grinspoon Foundation Spirit Awards, Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator, and Draper Competitions.

Western New England University (WNE) is a private, nationally ranked, comprehensive institution with a focus on preparing work-ready and world-ready graduates. Founded in 1919 in Springfield, Massachusetts as a division of Northeastern College, WNE’s 215-acre suburban campus serves more than 3,700 students, including over 2,500 full-time undergraduates. More than 47,000 alumni have earned degrees through its 90+ undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs at Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and School of Law. Students come from 39 U.S. states and territories and 23 countries. Of 44,486 living alumni, 30% remain within the region, residing in the four Western Massachusetts counties and northern Connecticut.

WNE is classified among nationally ranked universities in US News and World Report, and among the Top 100 Undergraduate Engineering programs, and in the Doctoral/Professional Universities category in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. WNE ranks fifth in the country and first in Massachusetts in job placements of its graduates.