FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Ten student design teams from the McMillon Innovation Studio unveiled their prototypes and innovations earlier this month during Demo Day to over 100 virtual attendees.

The teams leveraged human-centered design principles to tackle a myriad of issues in the community that were identified through partnerships with local industry, nonprofits and on campus. the University of Arkansas. Their projects ranged from expanding virtual school clinics and eliminating food waste to providing residential water test kits and an app to help restaurants recover from the COVID pandemic. 19.

“During this semester, I have been around 60 students eager to change the world we live in through innovation. What I have seen in these students is the ability to problem solve and communicate clearly, ”said Justin Urso, director of the McMillon Innovation Studio.

“These skills alone are essential at any level of work, but at this point in their early career, it’s remarkable to start to see that develop and to think about how far they can go. I believe. really that they can have a lasting impact. ”

The fall 2021 semester design teams consisted of 54 students representing 22 different majors working alongside 12 industry mentors.

Urso said four teams will enter the McMillon Innovation Studio’s Product Teams program next semester, where they will learn Lean methodology, agile methodology and fundamentals of product management. The main objective of this program is to help teams produce a product with a viable marketing strategy.

One of those teams is Insomnovation, which strives to provide natural sleep supplements through a subscription service. Insomnovation finished third earlier this year in a seed funding pitch competition hosted by the University of Alberta’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“After participating in the Seed Funding Competition, my team felt well prepared for Demo Day,” said Julia Davis, Senior Business Management and Insomnovation Team Leader.

“We felt very relaxed to be able to showcase our work and all the progress we have made since Seed Pitch in October. ”

Davis said that as his team integrates the Studio’s product teams, they hope to compete in the Arkansas Governor’s Cup and the EMPOWER accelerator overseen by Startup Junkie’s Science Venture Studio.

“Working with (Insomnovation team members) Nik Limperis, Wesley Smith, Masako Suzuki and Josh Shackleton has been the most rewarding part of this semester and I am delighted to continue working with each of them,” said Davis.

Fall 2021 Design Teams:

NWA community clinic

  • Scope: Virtual clinics take up very little space and can help students by providing them with a diagnosis for the appropriate medication while the student stays on campus. How can the NWA Community Clinic operationalize its virtual clinic and scale to serve local schools and districts?

  • Project Manager: Jose Torres, second year student, innovation and entrepreneurship

  • Team: Anahi Arguijo, junior, advertising and public relations; Robby Astle, senior, business economics; Hironobu Shima, first year student, supply chain management; Amanda Thomsen, junior, mathematics and economics

  • Mentor: Amanda Echegoyen, Director of Operations, NWA Community Clinic

Food loops

  • Scope: Food Loops closes the food loop by recycling food waste, reducing the amount of food in landfills and providing stuatsinal fertilizers to local producers. How can Food Loops improve recycling efforts at large events?

  • Project Manager: Olivia Pledger, senior, international affairs

  • Team: Konoka Hattori, first year, international studies; Steven Trinh, senior, IT; Ryan Williams, second year, electrical engineering

  • Mentor: Tom Rohr, CEO, Food Loops

Diagnosis NOW

  • Scope: Essential workers need a way to test COVID-19 immunity so they know they are safe from COVID infection, can keep working, and prevent their business from temporarily shutting down Virtual. How can Now Diagnostics better market and sell COVID-19 antibody tests to nursing homes and assisted living facilities?

  • Project Manager: Ethan Potts, second year, biomedical engineering

  • Team: Alex Cummings, sophomore, economics; Tiffany Dempsey, junior, mechanical engineering; Gabby Mahoney, senior, marketing; Nathania Nischal, second year, biomedical engineering

  • Mentor: Beth Cobb, COO, Now Diagnostics


  • Scope: COVID-19 has decimated local businesses, especially restaurants. How can technology help restaurants recover from the impact of the pandemic?

  • Project Manager: Toma Tomonari, senior, IT

  • Team: Liam Behee, senior, hotel management; Caleb Elkington-Stauss, junior, international business accounting; Ashley Valentine, junior, finance

  • Mentor: Omar Kasim, founder of Con Quesos


  • Scope: Insomnovation will provide a monthly “sleep box” subscription filled with natural supplements to improve sleep, as well as a blood test to detect vitamin deficiencies that can trigger insomnia. How can the company create an all-natural melatonin-free sleep supplement that is more effective than its competition?

  • Project Manager: Julia Davis, Senior, Business Management

  • Team: Nikolas Limperis, senior, finance; Josh Shackleton, senior, IT; Wesley Smith, Senior Manager, Business Administration; Masako Suzuki, senior, marketing

  • Mentor: Justin Urso, Director, McMillan Innovation Studio

Phegenics LLC

  • Scope: A safe water supply is essential for communities. In the wake of several high-profile public water crises, how can Phigneics expand its testing for harmful bacteria and other water diagnostics to a residential market?

  • Project Manager: Jack Norris, second year, computer science

  • Team: Namrata Anand, junior, accounting and music; Mitchell Bylak, junior, IT and finance; Ashwin Narayan, junior, industrial engineering; Mary Catherine Taylor, first year, supply chain management; RyLeigh Werner, Junior, Supply Chain Management and Economics

  • Mentor: Mark McCoy, Director, Phigenics

Sam’s club

  • Scope: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the work dynamics of most Americans. How can Sam’s Club retain employees, encourage collaboration and foster a creative work environment as working from home has become a viable option?

  • Project Manager: Hayley Felkins, senior, mechanical engineering

  • Team: Virginia Hammond, junior, architecture; Sawyer Knox, sophomore, supply chain management; Tanvir Mondair, junior, economics; Nayeli Ortiz, junior, international trade; Tatiana Shi Shi, senior, marketing

  • Mentor: Lea Jepsen, Vice President of Merchandise Operations, Sam’s Club China

TGG Technologies

  • Scope: TGG’s corrugated pallets can be made into an economical, easy-to-assemble and recyclable bed frame. How to develop the TGG market?

  • Project Manager: Wilson Strange, senior, accounting and finance

  • Team: Braylon Alcorn, senior, kinesiology; Rylee Ball, freshman, architecture; Zack Lorenzoni, junior, supply chain management; Fatima Orellana, senior, mathematics; Ezequiel Tovar, senior, finance

  • Mentor: Mike Finan, Founder and Vice President of Development, TGG Technologies

Tyson Foods

  • Scope: Avoiding employee injuries inside Tyson Foods warehouses is good for both workers and the business. How can Tyson reduce employee injuries and vehicle breakdowns in the warehouse?

  • Project Manager: Brooke Lawson, Senior, Supply Chain Management

  • Team: Azucena Carbajal, first year, finance; William Beutelschies, junior, supply chain management; Anna Blake Lively, senior, accounting; Akeem Malky, senior, IT

  • Mentors: Adrienne Allison, Director of Poultry Safety, Tyson Foods; Janet Hudgins, IT Intern and College Relations Manager, Tyson Foods; Thomas Smith, Application Developer, Tyson Foods


  • Scope: Research has shown that about 25% of Walmart customers have return issues. Meanwhile, the company is losing $ 1 billion a year in returns. How can Walmart become more efficient and improve the customer experience when purchasing products or making returns?

  • Project Manager: Andres Balderrama, junior, finance and IT

  • Team: Carter Kirkland, senior, marketing; Andres Luna Orosca Amelunge, senior, industrial engineering; Miguel Marin, senior, international affairs; Josh Shackelton, senior, IT; Landen Usher, second year student, finance and accounting

  • Mentor: Kurt Templeton, Senior Director of New Business Development, Walmart

About the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Alberta:The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and organizes experiences of innovation and entrepreneurship for students of all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio, Startup Village, and Greenhouse at the Bentonville Collaborative, OEI offers free workshops and programs including social and corporate innovation design teams, internships in business, competitions and start-up coaching. A unit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Economic Development Division, OEI also offers on-demand support to students who will be innovators within existing organizations and to entrepreneurs who are starting something new.