Announcing the 2022 Grainger Computing Innovation Prize Winners

The second annual Grainger Computing Innovation Prize was awarded to a team of Illinois Tech student innovators for their invention of a cross-compatible, simple-to-use stablecoin payment solution to solve the financial access gap for millions of Mexico’s unbanked. The winning team, named StarPay, was announced as the $15,000 first prize winner in a finals event judged live by a panel of Chicago’s technology experts.

Five finalist teams pitched their prototypes to a panel of esteemed judges, the Illinois Tech community, and invited guests as part of the Grainger Computing Innovation Prize Finals. The aim of the competition is to build interdisciplinary teams of students to exhibit their computing skills in big data, artificial intelligence, and data science projects with the potential to positively impact society. Teams were encouraged to tackle projects in “Computing with Data for Social Good” to address real-world problems in education, health, energy, public safety, transportation, economic development, sustainable smart infrastructure, climate change, and more.

To learn more about the competition and winning projects, visit: 

2022 Grainger Computing Innovation Prize Winners


1st Place – $15,000 prize

StarPay solves the financial access gap for millions of unbanked Mexicans through a cross-compatible, simple-to-use stablecoin payments solution. Stablecoins are the future of digital payments, with Mexico’s government launching their own Centralized Digital Bank Currency (Crypto-Peso) by 2025. Mexico will struggle to build local, crypto-native payment networks. Through its simple, cross-platform design, StarPay aims to become the go-to payment solution for the future of Mexico’s CDBC infrastructure. With 90% of all transactions being in cash, fragmented smartphone capabilities, and inconsistent internet coverage, there is a great need for a simple, cross-compatible payment network.

Team members:

  • André Guardia
  • Jorge Plascencia
  • David Singer
  • Rishabh Tyagi


2nd Place Team – $10,000 prize

GreenGrid is a blockchain-powered microgrid system that efficiently manages renewable power and power distribution. By anticipating future energy prices, the GreenGrid smart metering algorithm can minimize a user’s power bill by ensuring that they have cheap power based on their energy usage habits. GreenGrid does this by creating tokenized blockchain offerings for trading energy without the issues of cost or complexity that traditionally come from using renewable energy certificates (RECs).

Team members: 

  • Gabriel Bryk
  • Ryan McPhail
  • Joshua Silets


3rd Place – $5,000 prize

DonateMates is a food courier app for restaurant food donations. The complex issue of food insecurity is not due to a lack of food, but a lack of access to food. While there are more than fifty-four million food-insecure Americans, there is more than seventy-two billion pounds of food wasted annually. Food donation logistics remains a major barrier to donations. By partnering with restaurants and independent food couriers, the DonateMates project proposes a cost effective solution to food donation deliveries.

  • Venkata Siva Rupesh Akurati
  • Sahar Bayat
  • Layla Cosovic
  • Harrison Mohr


4th Place Tie – Finalist 

Coh-Op is a tool for classifying the efficacy and safety of opioids. Our interdisciplinary computational tool, called the coherence function, synthesizes these two approaches. In an effort to better understand the biological role opioids play in our bodies, we plan to challenge previous stand-alone models by supplying a novel computational analysis that will work in tandem with drug development to make the drug screening process more robust.

Team members:

  • Barien Gad
  • Stanley Nicholson

Garden Snakes

4th Place Tie – Finalist 

Garden Pi is an automated home gardening system that allows users to have full remote control over their plant’s environment. The Garden Pi combines computing technologies, machine learning, and modern agricultural technologies to fine tune the growing environment of plants by using thousands of images from other information systems and combined data resources from the University of Illinois agricultural databases. Garden Pi helps to increase access to fresh food access for everyone by using modern gardening techniques. Bringing these techniques to not just home gardeners, but people everywhere allows everyone to have the ability to grow their own fruits and vegetables with minimal time and effort.

Team members:

  • Adrian Hamel
  • Daniela Munoz
  • Alex Schatz