First National Trip Ends in Superior Sportsmanship

Akira Mitchell of Tech Start Tampa Bay and STEM teacher Deborah Davis along with parents Aileen De La Rosa, Daniel Yeh, Jennifer Haber  all accompanied Amaya Hall, Jayna Allen, Denzyl Downing, Katie Haber and Ethan Yeh to NICEE2016 for this team of young inventors to pitch each of their ideas to a panel of judges on Saturday May 20th. Before getting to business, there were a lot of sites to see (and for one inventor, their first plane ride). At this point, no one had any idea that these young Florida innovators would demonstrate such superior sportsmanship.

Thursday, the 19th, was travel day; everyone met up and set off without a hitch.


Pro-tip: We found the most cost-effective and quickest form of transportation to be the metro!

Once at the hotel, we encountered a snag (that our rooms weren’t adjoined) but we checked-in and got settled. We hit another snag regarding the location of registration but we figured it out quickly enough and moved on to THE ICE CREAM PARTY (everyone slept well this night).

On Friday morning it was discovered that being with the innovation groups was not necessary. This was the perfect opportunity for exploration. The young entrepreneurs absolutely loved this!


The metro was a fun new experience.  Nerves were high, but charged with excitement.

While exploring, we decided to come up with a crew cry. The first suggestion was a dolphin cry, but it was determined the squeek of a dolphin might not be heard over long distances and this was a noise we would make if we got separated. Instead we landed on “orange”.

So as this team of young inventors (and chaperones) were exploring the offerings of our nation’s capital, jubilations of “ORANGE!” were being shouted loudly at random intervals.

Our stops included the National Monument and WWII Memorial. Along the way, many pictures were taken and many instagram posts were made of absolutely everything! The passion was beaming from their souls. It was so powerful, strangers took note and smiled as we passed.

We also visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum where we watched the IMAX Journey to Space.


Next was the Natural History Museum and it was, by far, the highlight of the trip. We explored all floors, took lots of pictures and everyone was free to explore at their leisure, including a pit stop to pick up souvenirs for family and friends.

By this point, the time was drawing near to check in at the USPTO (The U.S. Patent Trademark Office). So we headed back to the hotel where we had bit of time to rest before we needed to collect the inventions and head to the there. After, the young inventors practiced their pitches and then got some shut eye.

Then, it was Saturday. THE day. Our team of young innovators proceeded on their own, without parents or chaperones, to the judging floor where they remained until after their pitch.

Amaya pitched her idea for backpack reflectors to increase safety for kids riding bicycles at night.

Jayna pitched her idea for a rescue vehicle with an extra axle, attached “jaws of life” and even a bed to get to injured parties when they’re off the beaten path.

Ethan pitched his idea for a K-Cup hydroponics system (which works!).

Denzyl pitched his idea to help basketball players achieve the perfect shot.

Katie pitched her idea to conserve the precious commodity of ice cream, preventing it from dripping all over the consumer and/or their surroundings.

The results? While Florida did not win any prizes, these young inventors were awarded the honor of best behavior for their superior sportsmanship.  Once winners were announced, several other youth shed tears, were mean toward the winners and there were even some tantrums. But these Florida inventors congratulated the winners and were excited to connect and share about this amazing experience for which they were so grateful.

While the Florida team did not bring home the prize, they still brought home the glory because they know the journey matters more than the destination.

However, their destinations lie far into the future and NICEE2016 is just the beginning.


Local Nonprofit’s Fundraiser Enables Trip of a Lifetime for Young Tampa Inventors

TechStart Tampa Bay, a not-for-profit using technology to inspire at-risk children, will sponsor five area students for invitation-only, National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurial Expo in Washington D.C., #NICEE16

TAMPA, Fla. – May 17, 2016 – TechStart Tampa Bay, a nonprofit 501(c)3 inspiring local at-risk youth through technology, announced today that the organization has reached its fundraising goal to sponsor five Tampa Bay area student inventors for a trip to the invitation-only, National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurial Expo (NICEE) in Washington D.C.

Ranging from 11 to 14 years of age, each aspiring inventor was selected by TechStart Tampa Bay – three due to their winning performances in the USF Young Innovators Competition that included over 700 entries. Two additional students were chosen by STEM Specialist Laura Spence of the Pinellas County Schoolboard, as a reward for their creativity and dedication to innovation.

Once the student selection was announced, TechStart Tampa Bay, in realizing the monetary needs required for such a trip, jumped into action. The nonprofit established a fundraiser on National Give Day on Tuesday, May 3 and through various donations, including a match donation from the STEMIE Coalition, reached its goal in just under one week – solidifying the trip of a lifetime for the young, local inventors.

“We’re excited and incredibly proud to assist these young, creative minds in showcasing their inventive and entrepreneurial spirit,” said TechStart Tampa Bay Program and Event Director Akira Mitchell. “Attending this conference is a wonderful opportunity for them to expand their horizons, demonstrate Kodi App their imaginative and analytical abilities amongst peers, as well as inspire innovation to positively impact their futures, and potentially the worlds.”

When NICEE begins on Thursday, May 19 the five chosen students will converge with approximately 300 other students from across the country at the United States Patent and Trademark office to showcase their inventions and compete against one another. Inventions will be judged on its process, solution, impact, and presentation.

As part of their trip of a lifetime, the students will visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, attend an IMAX 3D viewing of the Journey to Space, and be visited by a top NASA official before NICEE concludes on May 21.


To learn more, visit TechStart Tampa Bay’s website , or TechStart’s Facebook .

For more info on NICEE, click here.



About TechStart:

Founded in 2001, TechStart Tampa Bay is a local not-for-profit 501(c)3 as part of TBTF’s philanthropic arm. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide opportunities, inspiration and education to at-risk students in the tri-county Tampa Bay area. Programs include school clubs that teach and fund coding classes, robotics competitions, 3D printing camps, and more.

Red Vector Exclusive Grand Prix Sponsor

Red Vector, the leading provider online education and training for a wide range of industries, was the exclusive sponsor for TechStarts Yacht club. This permitted employees, clients and the executive team the prestigious opportunity to watch the St. Pete Grand Prix from a yacht; fully stocked with food and beverages.

RV Thumbs Up



More importantly their donation allowed 50 kids from Pierce Middle School to get a backstage tour of the St. Pete Grand Prix. The kids were able to talk with mechanics, engineers, drivers and sponsors to best understand the inner workings and the necessity of STEM to make the race come to life.

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For these kids, it opened their eyes into a new world of tech and engineering. They were able to understand how the classes and programs they are involved with today, can severely impact their career of the future. Plus they got the bonus of having a day off of school and sat in an actual race car.  It was a glimpse into the incredible fun they will eventually partake in. A glimpse they never would have realized if not for Red Vector.


See all pictures on TechStart’s Facebook.

PWN Luncheon Recap: From Football to Footwear

By Megan Bowers

TBTF hosted the annual Professional Women’s Luncheon at Hilton St. Petersburg this afternoon and it was filled with inspirational words, compliments on shoes, and networking galore. Professional women from the Tampa Bay area came together for socializing, an incredible meal, and to listen to keynote speaker Michelle McKenna-Doyle, NFL SVP & CIO.

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Michelle McKenna-Doyle joked, “my father always bet his kid would be in the NFL, he just bet on the wrong one!” after she shared that her brother had played football for Alabama. McKenna-Doyle had always liked football and after years working in the theme park industry, she decided to pursue the passion. Her advice for women in male-dominated fields is to “stick with what you’re good at.” If you happen to be good at something that is traditionally a “male role,” don’t let yourself get intimidated.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

She also advised that at the beginning of one’s career, “start off knowing that you’re not going to know.” She hadn’t originally started her career in IT. She had to dabble in IT for a work project, and decided that’s where she belonged. “Don’t shut off possibilities!” she urged.

The most important lesson McKenna-Doyle wanted the women to pull from her speech was to mentor. “Every woman has the responsibility to mentor,” she explained. Men have always been strong mentors and it’s time for women to follow suit. (We were excited for her support of mentorship because we had a mentor matching table waiting in the next room!)

We were thrilled to have Michelle McKenna-Doyle inspire and entertain us with her spunky humor. It was a real pleasure to hear words of wisdom from such a business powerhouse.

Michelle McKenna Doyle

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