Alums in the News: Tobin, Dzirasa receive top honors

David Tobin. Photo by Bryce Richter.

Triple alumnus David Tobin ’91, physics, M.S. ’93, applied physics, and Ph.D. ’96, applied physics, has received the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research. Tobin, an atmospheric researcher at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at UW, was honored for his extensive work with satellite instruments, which has contributed a great deal to modern understanding of weather trends. Read more about Tobin and the award here.

Delali Dzirasa, third from left, on stage at the Baltimore Innovation Awards. Photo by Stephen Babcock.

The Baltimore-based software company Fearless (formerly Fearless Solutions), founded by Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, has been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Maryland Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year for 2017. This isn’t the first honor for Fearless, or for Dzirasa himself: just last fall, the company was named the Design/Dev Firm of the Year at Baltimore Innovation Week, and Dzirasa took home an Alumni Rising Star Award back in 2011. The company, which got its start in the bwTech incubator and expanded to a new Inner Harbor office last year, counts 13 alumni and two current students among their ranks.

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Alums in the News: November 9-15, 2016

Let’s see who made the news this week…

taiwoAdeyinka Taiwo ’10, visual arts, spoke with Volunteer Maryland about her work with the Montgomery County Community Action Agency, which partners with various groups in the area with the goal of alleviating poverty. Read more about Yinka here.


Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, and his software company, Fearless Solutions, were awarded a contract by the U.S. Small Business Administration to upgrade the agency’s web presence and user interface. Read more here.

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Alums in the News: The Brothers Dzirasa

Happy fall, and happy return of the Alums in the News feature! Here’s a brief update on the goings-on in a very accomplished UMBC family…

Kafui Dzirasa ’01, right, on a panel with President Barack Obama and Atul Gawande at the White House Frontiers Conference. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, chemical engineering, spoke alongside President Barack Obama on the Presidential Panel on Brain Science and Medical Information at the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh last week. Dr. Dzirasa, now a researcher and professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers earlier this year for his work with neural pacemakers. You can watch the stream of the event here.


Delali Dzirasa ’04, third from left, takes a selfie with his Fearless Solutions team on stage at the awards ceremony. Photo by Stephen Babcock.

Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, and his software company, Fearless Solutions, took home the Design/Dev Firm of the Year award at this year’s Baltimore Innovation Week. Fearless, formerly housed at bwtech@UMBC, was recognized for their work on a federal program that helps small businesses in Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) zones.

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Alums in the News: Suess, Dzirasa, Ritter, Hyman

Here at UMBC, we take pride in what our alumni accomplish after graduation, whether it’s on-campus or off. Take a look at some engineering and IT alums who have made the news recently!

suess4Jack Suess ’81, information systems, and M.S. ’95, operations analysis, UMBC’s chief information officer, praised Baltimore-based mobile replacement startup Fixt, which has just received $1.4 million from angel investors. Fixt provides an online platform for large-scale institutions to troubleshoot mobile device problems, and the process usually takes less than an hour, start to finish. Suess says that adopting the Fixt system has saved the university money and time that would otherwise have been spent on mobile-related issues.

Delali DzirasaDelali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, talked with CSO Online about his career path, and offered students advice on how to network within the cybersecurity and IT fields. Dzirasa, a 2011 Alumni Award honoree, started his company, Fearless Solutions, in 2009. “Stay hungry,” he says to young infosec professionals. “There is no shortage of opportunities. Keep learning. Security is one of those interesting things. There are a million ways to get in, and you can’t defend all of them.”

ritterSarah Ritter ’06, information systems, and M.S. ’11, information systems, is now in graduate school for mobile development at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. WILMA Magazine recently interviewed her for an article on women in Wilmington’s burgeoning tech sector, and she had this to say about teamwork: “I might not be the best driver, but I am an excellent parallel parker. You don’t have to be good at everything…You should learn how to do as much as possible to work well on a team, but you don’t have to be the best at everything to be a great asset on a technical team.”

mojoeJoseph Hyman ’11, mechanical engineering, first came up with the idea for a self-brewing coffee mug during a long night in the AOK Library. Today, his MoJoe Brewing Co. has garnered over $85,000 in Kickstarter pledges. Tired college students – or anyone who wants a hot cup of coffee or tea on demand – just fill the mug with water, add their preferred beverage base, adjust the strength settings, and have a warm cup of study support within minutes. “It’s exciting that after years of building a product, people actually want it. And that there’s a demand for it…It makes the sleepless nights worth it,” Hyman says.

Head to Retriever Stories to let us know where you are now!

Spotlight on bwtech@UMBC

Alumni Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, and Andrew Mavronicolas ’14, information systems, were recently featured in a SmartLogic video promoting bwtech@UMBC. Both alumni run companies based in the research park: Dzirasa is the president of the software company Fearless Solutions, and Mavronicolas is co-founder of Backpack ‘Em, an online intra-campus exchange platform. Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of bwtech, is also featured. Watch the whole clip here:

UMBC Alums Find Success in the Local Community

One of the greatest things UMBC students and alums can do is make contributions to the local community. Alums Delali Dzirasa ‘04, engineering and information systems, and Erin Travis ‘06, visual and performing Arts, do exactly that by stepping outside the campus perimeters and starting their own businesses in Catonsville. See how their businesses help service the community.

Delali DzirasaDelali Dzirasa ‘04, engineering and information systems, is the owner and creator of Fearless Solutions, a company that specializes in application development. Fearless Solutions revolutionizes the contracting opportunities for local businesses that would otherwise be unable to act on such opportunities. Dzirasa’s latest creation, HUBFinder, is an application geared at making it easier for small businesses and job seekers to access federal programs.

To read the full article, click here.

Photo by Brian Krista
Photo by Brian Krista

Erin Travis ‘06, visual and performing arts, founded Trails and Tails Pet Care, a a Baltimore County-based company. Travis, who wasn’t completely happy with her job in a photo studio, decided to make a change three years ago when she began her small pet care business. Trails and Tails Pet Care allowed her to do the two things she enjoys the most: spend time outdoors as well as take care of animals. The business provides dog walking, hiking, compatibility training, and pet sitting to clients.

Click here to read more.


Alumni Help Judge UMBC Idea Competition

The Commons SportsZone was packed last month as finalists in UMBC’s 3rd annual Idea Competition — a bi-annual contest of entrepreneurial prowess — made their presentations to a panel of alumni judges and a standing room-only crowd of over 100 members of the UMBC community.

Forty ideas were originally submitted by students, with the top 10 selected for the final round. Winners were chosen by a combination of scores from the voting audience and the judging panel, consisting of three entrepreneurial alums: Greg Cangialosi ’96, English, CEO of Nucleus Ventures, LLC; Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, President of Fearless Solutions, LLC; and Jeehye Yun ’97, computer science, CEO and President of Secured Sciences Group.

UMBC alumnus and judge Greg Cangialosi was inspired by the innovative ideas from the students. He says, “It is truly inspiring to come back to UMBC as an entrepreneur and to see the amount of energy and the quality of the ideas coming out of the students on campus. The advancements in promoting entrepreneurship at UMBC have been incredible.”

Read more about the competition winners here.

All the winners won cash prizes: 1st place $750, 2nd place $500, 3rd place $250 and Most Creative $250. The Idea Competition was sponsored by the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship and was part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a week where universities around the world celebrate entrepreneurship with activities and events for their students, faculty and alumni.