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Student Inventors and Innovators Recognized at 13th Annual Digital Safari Innovation Fair


Contact:  Ursula Kroemer Leimbach / communications@mdusd.org / mobile: (760) 705-6919


Student Inventors and Innovators Recognized at 13th Annual Digital Safari Innovation Fair

Scholarships awarded to top student teams for social benefit innovations including disaster notification network that does no rely on cellphone service and a drone outfitted with a capsule to create rain to assist fire departments


(CONCORD, CA – December 18, 2017) –  Five teams of student inventors and innovators were awarded scholarships as the top winners in the 13th annual Digital Safari Innovation Fair on December 14, the culminating event of a semester-long Innovation Project for students in the Digital Safari Academy (DSA) at Mt. Diablo High School. The Innovation Fair was held in conjunction with the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce mixer.


The Innovation Project is an entrepreneurial training program for high school seniors who form virtual companies then spend an entire semester developing their innovative "beyond the edge" products, developing their business plans and preparing to make their pitch for funding before a panel of real business consultants and investors. All the products or services by the student teams must have an environmental, health/safety, or positive social benefit.  Students worked with a community partner mentor throughout the course of the project to develop a business plan.


All guests who attended received $50,000 in virtual money to “invest” in their favorite companies.  The top five groups are awarded scholarships, based on scores from their preliminary presentations, their business plan, and the investor monies raised. Students in the 1st place group share a $1000 scholarship.  Each member of the 2nd place group will receive $100 and each member of the 3rd place group will receive $50.  The scholarships were generously provided by the Patrick & Shirley Campbell Foundation of Pleasant Hill, supporting numerous civic and education programs and associations.


1st Place - Disaster Network: A device that does not rely on a cell phone network in order to communicate – targeting areas hit by natural disasters

·        Talwinder Lally

·        Sierra Smith

·        Christian Meda

·        Mohit Gurung









2nd Place - The Thinking Machine: A new computer-processing chip using a new material, graphine

·        Alana Lanway

·        Erick Jauregui

·        Jeremiah Lahaina-Fuiava










3rd Place – LOTUS: A thermographic mammogram machine

·        Isabella "Izzi" Fleury

·        Aldo Escalante

·        Daniel Ochoa

·        Veronica Nava










4th Place - ARTEmiS: Technological glasses serving the needs of those suffering from mental illness

·        Kloyd Ganancial

·        Alexsandra Cevallos

·        Paiman Nejrabi

·        Adrian Canedo










 5th Place - Make It Rain: A drone that carries a capsule that would create rain – targeting fire departments

·        Webster Gutierrez

·        Adrian Meda

·        Alberto Romo Gutierrez

·        Jonathan Gonzalez










Sixty-two students participated, presenting a total of 16 different projects. 


The judges for the Business Plan competition were:

  • Manual Alonso, Executive Director of Earth Team
  • Oscar Dominguez, Director, Contra Costa Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
  • Hope Frye, Managing Director, Skyward Bound Investments (and former mentor)

 The Innovation Project Mentors were:

  • James Acosta, Commercial Loan Officer, Heritage Bank of Commerce
  • Heather Fontanilla, Program Specialist, Mt. Diablo Unified School District
  • Horace Marks, Former Investment Securities Regulatory Compliance Officer
  • Polo Valdovinos, Business Advisor, Contra Costa SBDC
  • Mark Westwind, Former Adjunct Instructor, JFK University MBA Program


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About the Mt. Diablo Unified School District

Mt. Diablo Unified, located in Contra Costa County, is honored to serve approximately 32,000 students at one of more than 50 school sites in the cities of Clayton, Concord, and Pleasant Hill; portions of Martinez, Pittsburg, and Walnut Creek; and the unincorporated areas of Bay Point, Lafayette, and Pacheco. As part of a richly diverse community, MDUSD families represent numerous ethnic groups, speaking nearly 50 languages and dialects. MDUSD offers award-winning and innovative programs in Career Technical Education; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); extensive visual and performing arts programs; and rich foreign language and dual immersion offerings.  MDUSD is pleased to have expanded its middle college program, College Now, and opened its first International Baccalaureate program and three new regional magnet schools in 2017.  Learn more at http://www.mdusd.org/.



Posted by: Debbie Maher, District Admin, Mt. Diablo Unified School District Published:12/18/17
Audience: Homepage and Homepage