Applied Physics Undergraduates Explore Entrepreneurship and Win 2nd Place in Columbia's Fast-Pitch Competition

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in applied physics is the theme for this semester's Applied Physics Undergraduate Seminar. Applied physics majors from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 meet each week to learn from alumni, faculty, and entrepreneurs how high-tech ideas can move from the lab to become successful companies. 

This year's seminar included presentations from Dr. Richard Post (Applied Physics Ph.D. 1973) who co-founded and served as CEO of Applied Science and Technology (Astex) a leading maker of equipment for semiconductor and thin film production, Dr. Don Smith, who co-founded Energetiq Technology, Inc., maker of the world's brightest source of ultra-violet light, and Dr. Bob Mumgaard CEO of Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), the newest and largest private company advancing high-field superconducting technology for fusion energy. From Columbia University, the students heard from Professors Chris Wiggins, Nanfang Yu, Michal Lipson, and Michael Mauel, who organized this year's seminar. 

In addition to hearing from successful entrepreneurs, each senior created a start-up concept, researched their idea, and presented their start-up concept to their classmates. After several weeks of discussions and refinement, students organized into three teams and developed three 60-second "fast-pitch” presentations and business plans for the Columbia Fast Pitch Competition 2019. Fast Pitch is Columbia Engineering’s campus-wide annual elevator pitch competition where teams of both graduate and undergraduate students have 60 seconds to sell their business ideas to a panel of judges to win up to $5,000 for your idea.

The three teams from Applied Physics at this year's Fast-Pitch Competition were:

Quantum Data Defender (Student Team: Joseph Lee and James Borovilas) licenses guaranteed secure data transmission using a scheme built upon entangled photons and cesium based quantum repeaters.

Drone Zone (Student Team: Alex Herron, Marco Andrés Miller, Xuxin Zhang, and Isaac Ruble) provides accurate and up-to-date water and snow resource data measured by a fleet of drones equipped with remote sensors.

HyperGlass (Student Team: Sunand Raghupathi, Zicheng Liu, and Unique Divine) integrates and markets a computer without a screen: combining wearable AR glass separated from the computer and/or smartphone for a "cool fashionable design" for portable computing.

All three presentations from Applied Physics were outstanding and well-presented in 60 seconds to a panel of six judges from the worlds of business and finance. 

Special congratulations go to Quantum Data Defender, presented by Joseph Lee and James Borovilas, who were awarded the 2nd Place Undergraduate Prize and $650.00. (See photo above.)

More information about this year's Applied Physics Undergraduate Seminar can be found online:


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