Montgomery College Students Win Four of Five U.S. EPA “Make a Market Tech Challenge” Awards

Per Montgomery College: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced five winners of the Make a Market Tech Challenge. The five student teams received a total of $15,000 for their innovative market assessments for new technologies developed by EPA researchers. Four of the five winners are Montgomery College students. The 2023 winners of the Make a Market Tech Challenge: Esther Soon, first place ($6,000);  Rasheevan Nair, second place ($3,000); and third place was shared by two MC students: Miguel Granados and Sena Hordoffa ($1,500 each).

When EPA researchers invent new technologies, EPA’s Federal Technology Transfer Act program assists with patenting these new technologies and finding companies that are interested in licensing EPA’s products to put federally funded technology to use in real-word applications. EPA launched the Make a Market Tech Challenge to solicit innovative strategies for market assessments of patented and unlicensed EPA-developed technologies.

Through this challenge, students expanded their scientific and marketing skills by working with EPA-developed technologies in a hands-on business environment to scope out the best partnering strategy. EPA will use results from the students’ research to find partnerships for each of its water technologies, which will lead to practical application of these technologies for environmental and public health protection.

Montgomery College Professor Hoa Nguyen, the business and economics department chair at the Rockville Campus, helped advise the students throughout the competition process as they took her Principles of Economics class last fall.

“Students got to apply economics concepts directly into business questions about market scope, commercial applications and competition evaluation, and we tied those questions with chapters we covered throughout the semester,” the professor said. “In this way, students tackled a big market analysis one step at a time, so they did not feel overwhelmed. To keep up with the pace of the competition, students have to write up their own research about potential markets for the EPA’s new technologies every week. I advised them regularly on the core theories but allowed them the freedom to be creative with their business solutions and ideas.”

According to the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, the challenge encouraged the next generation of entrepreneurs to develop new ideas for putting EPA research into the hands of its partners and community members and to ultimately help protect human health and the environment.

Added Prof. Nguyen, “This [honor] is solid proof that with the right guidance and support, our students have the commitment and skills to do high level business analysis… I hope they get more opportunities to grow and the recognition that they deserve.”

Below is the full list of winners:

First Place ($6,000)

  • Esther Soon, Montgomery College-Rockville: Selected Technology to Market: Water Contamination Detection Kit

Second Place ($3,000 each)

  • Rasheevan Nair, Montgomery College-Rockville: Selected Technology to Market: Water Contamination Detection Kit
  • Nathan Sojourner, Nash Benton, Kolin Dhamelia, Serena Bauer, Daniel Powers, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, Selected Technology to Market: Carbon Traps to Deactivate Halogen Containing Pollutants

Third Place ($1,500 each)

  • Miguel Granados, Montgomery College-Rockville: Selected Technology to Market: Water Contamination Detection Kit

Sena Hordoffa, Montgomery College-Rockville: Selected Technology to Market: Portable Cyanobacteria Detection Kit for Recreation and Drinking Water Supplies

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