You are invited to participate in the Rothberg Catalyzer Impact-A-Thon Competition sponsored by the College of Engineering and the Integrated Innovation Institute, which will be held during Innovation Palooza on November 26 in the Wean Commons on the first floor of the Cohon University Center. Alumnus and University Trustee, Dr. Jonathan Rothberg (E 1985), has generously committed to support the competition.  An entrepreneur, Dr. Rothberg is the founder and chairman of Butterfly Network, Inc. whose innovative products are revolutionizing medical ultrasound.

You are in a position to make a positive impact on society, applying your analytical and quantitative training to solving hard and challenging social problems. As part of Innovation Palooza, CMU students will be able to participate in an intense, fun, thought-provoking competition where you can apply your know-how to find a solution to an important societal problem. Who knows? Maybe some of these ideas will be meaningful enough that they are developed further after the event, as was the case after our first Impact-A-Thon in 2014.

This will be our fourth Impact-a-Thon. Past projects have included developing ideas for homeless shelters, developing plans to make playgrounds accessible for children with disabilities, and developing solutions to the problem of medical relief during disasters. In 2014, the winning teams made headlines! Here are links to stories and photos from our previous competitions. Again, this year we will ask the teams to use your skills and experience to tackle a social problem and make a difference. The problem will be emailed to all registered teams at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 13. You will have until 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 26 to complete your entries. We hope you will participate!


All participants must be currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students at CMU.

Teams must have 4 – 6 members, at least one of which much be a College of Engineering or an Integrated Innovation Institute student.

Presentations must be made in person and in Pittsburgh.

All teams must be registered by 5:00 pm on Friday, November 9   

At 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 13, the problem and requirements will emailed to all registered teams.

  • Registered teams will have up to $250 to spend on legitimate expenses to support their project.  (Receipts must be submitted. More details will be provided in the November 13 email.)

  • All projects must be completed by 8:00 a.m. on November 26, 2018. Set up begins at 8:00 a.m. on November 26 and must be completed by 8:30 a.m. or teams will be disqualified. 

  • Winners will be announced before Innovation Palooza concludes at noon.

  • Teams must be available and present their solution during Innovation Palooza from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. At least 2 team members must be present at all times.

  • Projects will be judged by an invited panel of faculty, alumni, industry reps, and experts in the problem area. The judging panel’s decision is final.

  • Financial awards will be given to the first, second, and third place teams and will be announced after the speaking program at noon.

Please email me at to register your team. Remember, all teams must be registered by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 9, 2018.


First place team: $5,000 

Second place team: $3,000

Third place team: $1,500

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