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Annual SILC Cup puts international flair on ASU soccer tournament

April 7, 2017

In an effort to boost international pride through the spirit of sport, Arizona State University’s School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC) hosted the annual SILC Cup Thursday at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. 

The event featured 21 co-ed teams that were made up of Sun Devil students and staff members. The teams represented different countries, regions and foreign language classes and each team were competing for the tournament title.

“I organized the first tournament six years ago and we rented a park in Tempe,” said Enrico Minardi, a senior lecturer of Italian and French at ASU. “It started so small, but last year it became big enough that the athletic department asked us to move the event here.” 

The partnership with the athletic department was huge for Minardi and company. 

Not only did the players get to take the pitch at the school’s 1,000 seat home stadium, but members of the Sun Devil women’s soccer team were on hand to referee the matches. They also provided water and delivered Papa John’s pizza to the participants. 

“I am Italian so I grew up playing soccer every day,” Minardi said. “We played in the snow, rain and sun. This makes me feel like I’m back home, for one day at least.” 

At a university which boasts an international student population of more than 10,000, events like these help foster a sense of community.

“I got to speak to people who spoke Japanese like me,” said freshman Manny Banuelos, whose Zut Alors side finished the day with a record of 2-0-1. “There were people from all over, which made it a fun event for anybody.”

Participants competed in teams of five to eight players, playing 15-minute matches on miniature 30 x 35 yard fields. The day started with a group play format, which was used to cut the field down before a knockout-style bracket was implemented to produce a champion on Thursday evening. 

The group going by the name “Real Madrid” emerged from the 21-team field to win the 2017 SILC Cup. 

Carrying a seven-player roster, the majority of which hailed from the Southern African nation of Angola, Real Madrid marched through group play and knockout competition before topping the German side, “Friebier aus Geld” in the final. 

“My favorite part was taking a picture with the trophy after,” said Belchor Sebastião, a civil and environmental engineering major and member of Real Madrid. “That was really cool.”

In addition to the victory, Belchor was also happy to compete in an organized tournament — he and the rest of his teammates typically play for fun nearly every Friday.

“We just wanted to put together a fun soccer event,” said Barbara Fleming, a SILC adviser. “It is amazing how much it has grown though. The field doubled this year, and next time it will probably be even bigger.”


Top photo: Luis Monteverde (right) a sophomore business sustainability major from Hermosillo, Mexico, steals the ball during a game against the Les Coqs team. Monteverde was filling in for a missing team member from team Overlords during the SILC Cup. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer , ASU Now

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ASU student's life-changing accident leads to entrepreneurial dream

Paralyzed ASU engineering student wins $35,000 prize for therapy invention.
April 7, 2017

Engineering major wins $35,000 for inventing a therapy device for patients with paralysis

An Arizona State University student has won $35,000 for inventing a therapy device that could change his life and help thousands of people who can’t walk.

Dan Campbell, a robotics engineering major at ASU’s Polytechnic campus, invented AmbulAid to help people with neurological damage — like himself. Campbell, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a wrestling accident five years ago, uses a wheelchair.

He beat three other student-led entrepreneurial teams in the first ever Glowing Minds Consumer Product Challenge on Thursday at ASU's Tempe campus. Another team, called Shockingly Simple, won $10,000 for its invention — the Skeeter Eater, a non-chemical pest-control device.

Campbell said he invented the AmbulAid because nothing like it exists. The invention, a system of straps and supports, is used with a physical therapist in conjunction with a treadmill to help patients with “gait training” — essentially simulated walking. Gait training is important for people who have paralysis because it prevents osteoporosis, increases blood flow and, most importantly, can create neural connections between the muscles and the brain, sometimes leading to improved sensation and muscle use.

Campbell showed a video of himself using a sophisticated robotic exoskeleton gait trainer during his initial therapy after his injury. But those devices are expensive and rare. When he left the state-of-the-art facility for a regular clinic, his progress reversed.

“The day you’re discharged from therapy is typically the day your recovery ends,” he said. “For a lot of people that means losing sleep for the rest of your life wondering if your body’s potential to heal was actually reached.”

So he partnered with a doctor of physical therapy to launch his business, DK Therapeutics, and to create AmbulAid.

“Now I’m ready to bring it to millions of others who desperately need it,” he said.

He has a patent pending on the device and plans to sell it for about $2,000.

The panel of four judges, all longtime entrepreneurs, were impressed with Campbell’s simple design and well-executed business plan.

“The reason we got involved in putting this on was to try to bring out this entrepreneurial spirit in people. You’re living this nightmare and you’re making it into a dream,” said David Watson, who was a co-founder of the Philosophy line of skin-care products and founded Revolution Tea. He donated the prize money to the competition, which was sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“You are what this product represents, and I think being first to market will be gigantic.”

Campbell said even with high education, fewer than half of people resume working after a spinal-cord injury, so he would like to hire people with spinal injuries to be his sales force.

“They will carry on my advantage of belonging in the user group and being emotionally invested in the product,” he said.

Eventually he would like to integrate functional electronic stimulation in the AmbulAid, a process that uses electrical impulses to facilitate muscle movement.

“But that will need years of development, and I want to get this to market fast because there’s a glaring need for it,” Campbell said.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Michael Court, an MBA student and a founder of Shockingly Simple, said he thought of the Skeeter Eater after facing a mosquito problem at his house.

“I did some research, and I found out that mosquitoes are weak fliers. They can’t stand even a small breeze. There’s no product that exploits this right now,” he said.

The Skeeter Eater, which looks like a typical box fan, incorporates an electric grid inside it.

“A mosquito flies by and gets sucked into the intake, gets plastered into our electric grid and boom! It’s dead,” he said.

Court said the team plans to sell the device on its website, as well as Amazon and eBay, for $50 to $100.

Terry Lee, one of the judges, said he loved the idea and thought it would make a great infomercial product.

“Everyone wants to solve their mosquito problem, and everyone hates chemicals,” he said.

Court said the team is considering a one-for-one business model, like Tom’s Shoes, where the retail price pays for one device for the consumer and another for a country that is dealing with mosquito-borne diseases.

The other two finalist teams were M33 Labs, which created a “smart desk,” and Epic Creek, which developed a fly-fishing kit.

Brandon Smith, a technological entrepreneurship major at the Polytechnic campus, said M33 Labs wanted its product, Space, a high-technology desk with integrated hardware and high-density touch-screen display, to be beautiful as well as functional.

“We thought, what if we could take a computer and could pack all the power and all the functionality that a designer or engineer would need into one beautiful, unified package that would be ready to go out of the box?” said Smith, who is CEO of M33 Labs.

The company hopes to sell Space for $3,500, or $4,500 for a version for high-end design and animation professionals.

Jeff Ward, a technological entrepreneurship major and founder of Epic Creek, is a fly fisherman and decided to invent a streamlined system for using and buying flies. The box would hold cards of flies that are interchangeable and customized.

“You need a lot of equipment for fly fishing. You need different flies for different species of fish for different seasons and for different streams. And you need something to put those flies in,” he said.  

He is hoping to crowd-source the expertise to determine each set of flies and will distribute prototypes to celebrity fishermen.

“There are a lot of anglers who are avid. They want to preach, ‘This is what works,’ ” he said.


Top photo: Dan Campbell, a robotics engineering major at the Polytechnic campus, pitched his idea for AmbulAid during the Glowing Minds Consumer Product Challenge on Thursday. He won $35,000. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now