Students compete to innovate for a better future in LA

The Das Family Innovate x LA Student Competition challenges students to develop high-impact urban solutions and compete for a $15,000 prize.

From shade-scarcity to battles for the last parking spot… Los Angeles is a city of problems. For civil and environmental engineers, that means it’s a place of opportunity – every problem is an invitation for innovation.

However, identifying the big idea and designing effective implementation is just the start. As students at the Sonny Astani Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) know well, engineers also need to be expert communicators. The proof is in the pitch.

That’s the motivation behind the Das Family Innovate x LA Student Competition, established with the generous support of the Das family. The competition gathers steam over several months, as entrepreneurial student engineers brainstorm ideas and receive mentorship. The competition is led by a team of faculty members including Burcin Becerik-Gerber, David Gerber, Brad Cracchiola and Daniel Druhora, as well as student advisor Maral Laurie Mardirossians. Julieta Moradei, a structural engineer and venture capitalist investing in early-stage housing and construction start-ups, has played an important role as a consultant, providing guidance to student teams throughout the competition.

April 14 saw the teams come together for the final pitch day, gathering at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center to present to a panel of industry professionals, including start-up founders, venture capitalists and alumni members of the Das family.

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