Tandon Made Challenge 2.0

Incoming students deliver solutions to current and future challenges.

screenshot of the Tandon Made Challenge Awards presentation

Director of Entrepreneurship at NYU Tandon, Steven Kuyan (upper right), presided over the 2021 Tandon Made Challenge Awards

In 2020, Steven Kuyan, Director of Entrepreneurship at NYU Tandon, had an audacious idea: call upon incoming undergraduate and graduate students to team up to solve pressing problems resulting from COVID-19 — even though the school year had not begun, they had not yet met one another, had not set foot on campus, and — in the case of the undergraduates — had probably never taken a single engineering course.

Sounds improbable, right? Wrong! The first Tandon Made Challenge attracted more than 150 students and resulted in several marketable prototypes, including a dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF)-controlled system that allows your cell phone to be the interface with elevators, a device that enables medical responders to stream live footage of a patient during an ambulance ride, and a robotic IV pole equipped with an autonomous movement system.

For participants, the Challenge serves as the first step in an entrepreneurial journey that can last their entire time here — whether they sign on for a new minor in innovation; enter our flagship InnoVention Competition, whose winners have gone on to start thriving companies even before they graduate; take advantage of NYU’s generous Prototyping Fund; participate in an internship at a startup in Tandon’s Future Labs network; or much more.     

This year, Challenge organizers asked participants to focus on a set of new challenges;

  • Health Engineering — applying engineering to hardware and software challenges within healthcare
  • AI for Good — how artificial intelligence and the power of widespread and widely available data could be used to solve a societal problem in a unique way
  • Moonshots — developing a 10x improvement to the problems we will face in the coming 10 years

Health engineering and AI (particularly its responsible use) are areas of strong research excellence at Tandon: our faculty and students have been working at the intersection of engineering, healthcare, and life sciences for decades, and the Challenge presented a good opportunity for participants to get a feel for the kind of collaborative, interdisciplinary work being done here. Similarly, with AI now affecting almost every facet of modern society, from deciding who gets offered a mortgage to who gets offered bail, Challenge participants got a head start on thinking about timely issues of social relevance.

“These categories were chosen for the immense opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurial thinking applied to real problems in their respective fields. And of course, our new and exciting moonshot challenge gives students a platform to innovate with no bounds,” Kuyan said.

At Tandon, it’s important for us to educate the engineers of the future to not only know how to develop a cutting-edge product, but also how to bring it to market.” 
— Steven Kuyan, Director of Entrepreneurship at NYU Tandon

In all, 245 ambitious incoming students agreed to give it a try with the help of tech and business mentors from across NYU. Aleka Raju, a graduating master’s student at Tandon’s Center for Urban Science and Progress who mentored five teams, says that she got as much out of the process as her mentees. “Even though I was busy completing my own capstone project and preparing to graduate, I found it really gratifying,” she says. “I got a great education at Tandon, and this allowed me to give back in some small way. Besides, it’s very exciting that two of the teams I mentored, AIR Circulation and Mundare, made it to the final 12, and I’ll continue rooting for them even though I’ve graduated.”

“We’re very grateful to our mentors,” said Ann Huang, the President of Tandon’s InnoVention Society, who helped oversee the Challenge. “Thanks to their guidance, student teams submitted 21 great proposals, and our judges — who included Steve; Vice Dean of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Kurt Becker; and Vadim Gordon, the Engineer in Residence at Tandon’s Future Labs — had the difficult tasks of choosing the top-12.”

Those 12 teams each received $1,000 to be used to refine and prototype their ideas. It may be hard work, especially with the academic year starting, but when a group of students is willing to devote their summer to an engineering competition, hard work probably doesn’t faze them at all.

"NYU Tandon Made"

Learn more about the Tandon Made Challenge

An opportunity for incoming students, both graduate and undergraduate, to focus their immense talents on solving pressing societal challenges.

Watch the Awards Presentation

See video presentation from all 12 winning teams from the 2021 Tandon Made Challenge

The Winning Teams

AI Crime Reporting: A cloud-based AI application for live CCTV footage
S. Ajaykumaar, Aishwarya Ravindran, Supritha S. Bhat, Ruitian Ding

AIR Circulation: A device that controls the transmission of viruses indoors
SeungHwa Lee, Ankit Kumar

Automata: Using quantum-computing algorithms to transform healthcare
Roland Yan, Eli Edme

Honey Pot: A cybersecurity solution for hospitals
Daniel Chalco, Aditya Thakur, Priya Ganguly, Steven Pena

Melodiphy: Adding an entertaining element to physiotherapy
Bhargav Makwana, Walida Ali, Atharva Bhagvat, Parsa Amiri Nieni, Nitin Basil, Swarnashri Chandrashekar

Mundare: Autonomous trash-collecting drones
Daniel Zhang, Nick Pham, Ali Fakhry

MHSA: Predicting mental health issues with AI
Gianluca Villegas, Utkarsh Grover

Oncolock: A microfluidic device that enables the separation of circulating tumor cells from blood, mechano-typing to determine phenotypes and mutation characterization — all on one platform
Vishwajeetsinh Rahevar, Prayag Desai

Project Growth: A collaborative one-step platform for personalized AI mental healthcare
Andrew Quicho, Erin Butler, Maria Rehan, Kaiyue Zhang

Tandon Fire: A hardware system for the early detection of wildfires
Benjamin Fever, Dhruvansh Shah, Elizabeth Reimenike, Koushik Garikipati

Turtle Bin: An AI-powered receptacle that makes recycling easier
Gabriel Pincus, Aneri Patel, Mrunel Kshirsagar, Salman Rahman, Farhan Ishraq

Wireless Power Supply for Artificial Hearts: Uses a patient’s own pulse to create energy
Prassanna Madhaven, Dhruval Raj, Shoban Venugopal Palani, Divyashree Srinivasan


Thanks to all the mentors, who spent hundreds of hours with the teams, as well as the speakers, who shared their expertise during several compelling presentations.


Aadit Patel, Tandon master’s student in Mechatronics and Robotics

Naigam Bhatt, Tandon master’s student in Mechatronics and Robotics

Aleka Raju, Tandon master’s student in Data Science & Urban Policy

Claire Carlson, Stern MBA Candidate

Antonio Albano, InnoVention 2021 alum and Steinhardt master’s student in Food Studies

Navdeepak Bansal, Economics student at the College of Art and Science


Rebecca Silver of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute

George (Qiushi) Zhang, Tandon Made Challenge 2020 alum

Miles Kilcourse and Tom Sowers, co-founders of Aeragen

Michelle Lassen and Stacen Keating of NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing