High School Students With Energy-Saving Idea Win Lander College for Men’s Second Annual Entrepreneur of the Year Competition
Director of Communications
New York, N.Y. - Two students from Magen David Yeshiva in Brooklyn have been named winners of the 2009-2010 J. Morton Davis/Lander College for Men Student Entrepreneur of the Year Competition for their invention, “Winergy,” a turbine that captures hot air released by central air conditioner condenser units and recycles it back into the unit, thereby saving both homeowners and commercial building owners energy and money.
The competition, in its second year, is designed to motivate students at yeshiva high schools by encouraging their ingenuity. Thirty-one business plans were received from students at yeshiva high schools from throughout the New York metropolitan area and reviewed by distinguished judges.
Five teams of students were selected as finalists and invited to give oral presentations recently before distinguished judges who included leading business entrepreneurs, executives and educators. The winners were chosen for their creativity, sound business plans, and oral presentations. Prizes totaling $3,000 were awarded, with $1,500 going to the grand prize winners; $1,000 to the second place winners; and $500 to the third place winner. All five teams received plaques honoring their achievements.
The team of Isaac Lati, 16, and Morris Jaradeh, 17, both of Flatbush and both students at Magen David Yeshiva in Brooklyn, won the grand prize for their invention, “Winergy.”
“In addition to their creativity and sound presentation, the team of Lati and Jaradeh zeroed in on an issue that is front and center in today’s world -- green solutions for saving energy and money,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of Touro College’s Lander College for Men (LCM). “We were all impressed with their ingenuity and drive to create something that has the potential to benefit homeowners and businesses worldwide.”
Lati and Jaradeh said they got their idea last year, when solar panels and wind turbines began to make headlines in the news. “We had an in-school entrepreneurship competition and we both absorbed what was going on during the economic crash,” Lati said. “Right around the presidential election, a lot of discussions were taking place about alternate sources of energy. I looked around my home and I realized that the wasted air from the air conditioning unit could be used in a way that might prove practical.”
The team of Eric Forkush, 17, of Woodmere, Long Island, and George Bangiyev, 17, of Long Beach, L.I., both students at Rambam Mesivta High School in Lawrence, N.Y., won second place for inventing headphones that inflate to fit snugly inside one’s ears or over them, solving the problem of headphone buds that fall out when one is playing sports. The headphones are controlled through the use of a small, manual air pump. Forkush was last year’s grand prize winner for his invention, Bus Alert!, a handheld unit that alerts children and parents when the school bus is arriving. He has a patent pending on the unit and said he hopes to be in full-scale production shortly.
Gilad Katz, 17, of North Woodmere, also a student at Rambam Mesivta High School, took third prize for his idea, Cat Café, where people who love cats but for whatever reason cannot own one, can visit a lounge, have coffee, and engage with about two dozen cats that reside on the premises. There would be two caretakers assigned to each cat and the animals would receive regular veterinary care. Katz said he was inspired by similar cafes that are popular in Asia.
The fourth place winners, the team of Renee Dayan, Jennifer Hidary, Miriam Hidary and Rochelle Sutton from Magen David Yeshiva, won honorable mention for their invention, “EZ Diaper,” which consists of a disposable diaper with wipes and cream attached, eliminating the need for moms to carry multiple containers of lotions and baby wipes. Also winning honorable mention were fifth place winners Avraham Daphna and Motti Strum of Mesivta Ateres Yaakov High School in Hewlett, N.Y., for coming up with a concept for a “5 Towns Community Center,” a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Jewish community center that would serve the Jewish communities of Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, Inwood, and the Hewletts. No such center currently exists.
“This year’s contest was especially challenging since we received a tremendous increase in the number of submissions over last year,” said Dr. Ira Teich, assistant professor of marketing and management at LCM and director of this year’s competition. “It was very tough to narrow them down to just five finalists.”
Dean Sokol added that while it’s important to encourage young people to come up with good ideas, it’s equally important to teach them how to execute those ideas with solid business plans. “This is where education comes in,” he said. “There are many great ideas out there that never come to fruition because the creative minds behind them don’t have the necessary professional and academic skills to support their ideas.”
The judges consisted of Steven Brown, chairman of the LCM Board of Overseers, who is a partner in the McGuffin Group and formerly chief financial officer of IDT; Seymour Liebman, executive vice president of Canon, USA, board member of Canon Japan, and legal counsel of Canon Worldwide; and Professor Larry Bellman, formerly of Touro College and the developer and inspiration for the contest.
Rabbi Barry Nathan, director of admissions at LCM, who recruited applicants from yeshiva high schools, offered thanks to the teachers who guided and encouraged their students and expressed his hope that more applicants would enter the competition in the future. “Next year, we would like all area yeshiva high schools to actively participate in the contest.”
J. Morton Davis, for whom the competition is named, is a Wall Street investment banker and venture capitalist and a long-time supporter of Jewish causes.