Student Rocket Scientists Win $10K Pitch Competition at UCF Technology Ventures Symposium

The revolutionary rocket engine technology, developed by students at the University of Central Florida Engineering Lab, won the top prize of $ 10,000 at the UCF Technology Ventures Symposium, a one-day virtual event held Feb. 17 to connect entrepreneurs and innovators.

UTVS 2022, organized by the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science, was organized by faculty, staff and alumni from across the university. The day featured inspiring keynote speakers, engaging panelists, special tracks to promote networking and technology discovery, and a competition of startups with seven early-stage technology companies vying for the top prize.

Aerospace graduate student Adam Kotler has won with his company Halo Engines LLC, among strong competitors looking to grow their companies with a variety of products, from high-tech, Earth-friendly fabrics to video surveillance based on artificial intelligence and a social app to order menus at commerce-based.

Kotler, co-founder of Halo Engines, introduced his company’s rotating detonator rocket engine as the future of spacecraft engines. Being a student, Kotler is also a business partner Robert Burke ’19 ’20 MSalso a graduate student in aerospace engineering, collaborated with faculty advisor Karim Ahmed in the UCF Engine and Energy Management Research Laboratory to develop technology in solutions for the fast-growing space launch industry.

“Our solutions will reduce development and launch costs for military and commercial customers,” said Kotler, who is currently working on his master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering. “Halo is opening up next-generation combustion cycles that will reduce fuel use and require a design architecture that will reduce costs and increase mission and payload capabilities.”

The move impressed UTVS judges, a group of experienced tech entrepreneurs and investors based in central Florida.

“Halo Engines demonstrated a convincing and informative presentation,” said the symposium organizer. Benjamin Patz ’85MS, a graduate of UCF Engineering and co-founder of DeepWork Capital. “Recent, never-before-seen results with engine technology have been key to the judges awarding the Halo team its first prize amid fierce competition. We hope the team will continue to promote this unique technology. ”

Kotler says the $ 10,000 prize pool will be used to retain expert contract authors to maximize the potential of Halo Engines to receive multimillion-dollar awards from the Small Business Administration with Phase I and Phase II proposals.

Two additional early startups are Soarce, a high-tech fabric company proposed by UCF students Mason Minsey and Derek Salzman; and TumYum, a mobile application menu company offered by UCF student Alexander Damis and entrepreneur Rafe Monteiro, were both awarded second places. Their prize includes access to the UTVS mentoring network: a group of successful local technology entrepreneurs and investors who help entrepreneurs in the early stages to grow their companies.

“Soarce has made a passionate request to reduce the impact of carbon with a revolutionary fiber-based fabric with really impressive properties,” says Pat. “TumYum captured the imagination (and appetites) of the judges with its presentation, which had a real personality.”

Visit the UTVS website to learn about the full list of 2022 Symposium speakers, including keynote speakers Eric Singleton ’86, co-founder of Strax Networks; keynote speaker Kathleen Loftin ’89 ’00 MS ’09 PhD, chief technologist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; the speaker is shown Christina Drake ’07 PhD, Founder / CEO of Kismet Technologies; and the speaker is shown Tommy Shavers ’00 ’02 MSFounder / CEO of NESTRE Health & Performance.

Visitors to the UTVS website are encouraged to check back frequently, as recorded symposium presentations will be added to the 2022 UTVS Pantheon video in the coming days and weeks.

Watch the UTVS promotional video to learn more about the UCF Technology Ventures symposium.

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