2020 Summer Founders Program draws record number of teams & increases amount

May 07, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A record number of student startups from across Penn State campuses are getting ready for the 2020 Summer Founders program, a 13-week entrepreneurial bootcamp offering mentoring, networking, resources and $15,000 in funding to teams of Penn State student entrepreneurs from all campus locations and the World Campus. This year, seven startups were selected from more than 50 applications. In past years the program selected five teams and awarded $10,000 per team.

The Summer Founders program runs from May 20 to Aug. 12, culminating in a Startup Showcase on Aug. 12. Due to COVID-19, student teams may be asked to work remotely and the Student Showcase event may be held virtually. Check the Summer Founders program website for updates.

The $15,000 in funding provided by Summer Founders is generally used for housing, living and other expenses, and helps teams to work full-time on their startup, social good, or non-profit over the summer.

The startups are:

  • Girls Code the World inspires girls to pursue STEM-related fields by giving them passionate role models in their communities. The startup is led by Sydney Gibbard, a Biomedical Engineering and Pre-Medical Sciences student at Penn State and Mina Shokoufandeh, a Tufts University undergraduate student studying Biology, Biomedical Sciences, and French.
  • ARO-Cloud provides tools to simplify and flatten the development of augmented reality for individuals and small to mid-sized businesses. The startup is led by Penn State students, Greg Costeas, studying Human Centered Design and Development in Information Sciences and Technology (IST) and Royce D’Souza, studying Philosophy and Qualimetrics Data Engineering, in the College of Engineering.
  • teamSTAT provides high-intensity athletes with the ability to monitor their heart rate during sporting events through a minimally invasive tracker in the form of a one-time use, stick-on patch. The patch provides coaches and trainers with real-time statistics about athletes enabling them to assess performance and minimize overexertion. The startup is led by Emily Robinson, Biomedical Engineering; Alyssa Peretin, Mechanical Engineering; Lucy Spicher, Mechanical Engineering; and Courtney Truskolasky, Mechanical Engineering – all students in Penn State’s College of Engineering.
  • Attention Grab uses app-based behavioral tracking coupled with artificial intelligence generation analysis of key metrics to provide the first step in determining if a patient should pursue medical assistance for an attention disorder. The team includes Glenn Hubbard, studying Economics and Math in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts; College of Engineering students Christian Trafford, Computer Engineering; Vaibhav Malla, IST; and Sarah Dinh, Mechatronics; as well as Smeal College of Business student, Jeremy Ye, Actuarial Science and Finance.
  • Vybrnt, is a social networking platform using AI to provide resources and a sense of community for underrepresented students across Penn State, including students of color, LGBTQA+, religious, and international students. The startup is led by College of IST student Joel Sakyi. The team also includes Christian Medford, Psychology; Bubune Owusu, Electrical Engineering; and Amaledu Bokil, Computer Science. 
  • JoePa's Closet is an Instagram business that sells vintage Penn State clothing to students, alumni, and fans and is being spearheaded by Zac Cowell, a student in Penn State’s Environmental Resource Management program in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
  • 3D Concrete Printing is an autonomous construction system to allow for greater design freedom and eliminate form work, which can result in moving human labor away from dangerous job sites. The effort is being led by Penn State graduate student Nate Watson, studying Additive Manufacturing and Design in the College of Engineering; Sven Bilen, professor and head of the College of Engineering’s School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs; and Ali Memari, College of Engineering professor and Bernard and Henrietta Hankin chair in Residential Building Construction, and director of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center.

Funding is made possible through the donations of successful entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures, and is granted through the Penn State Development Office. Anyone interested in supporting the Summer Founders program should contact Heather Winfield, director of strategic initiatives in University Development at hbw11@psu.edu to learn more about tax deductible donations.

Summer Founders is a signature program of Invent Penn State, a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university/community/industry collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind.


Last Updated September 04, 2020