By Solomon Fox
On Sunday, November 24, 2019, the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) held its second-annual CIJE Tank competition. There were seven semi-finalist teams, including two from The Leffell School — E-Band and Concaution. Seniors Jaqueline Levy, Olivier Mastey, and Adam Shinder won first prize with their company E-Band.
The event this year was held in Manhattan at The Space at Flatiron. Teams from Bruriah, Frisch, HAFTR, Ma’ayanot, Kushner, and Leffell, traveled to Manhattan to pitch their products to a group of “sharks” — Jewish engineering and product development professionals — in addition to an audience of parents and teachers.
Five teams within the past two years have traveled with Director of Engineering and Design Dr. Danny Aviv to participate in CIJE Tank. “My expectations [for the day] were similar to last year. I just wanted to have fun and [an] opportunity to showcase [the] projects that my kids – the students – did. I think that last year, what I learned was that a lot of what we’re doing here fits into the right mold. It’s not only about our kids building products, but also those power skills that are associated with it,” Aviv said.
Teams gave presentations with their pitch decks and brought physical prototypes in order to showcase their products to the judges. After each group was done pitching their product, the panelists would ask the team different questions and offer their thoughts about the product and company.
This format of pitching and receiving feedback — unlike in other high school engineering programs — is familiar to Leffell students. 10th and 11th graders in the Engineering and Entrepreneurship program deliver pitch-deck-style presentations, with prototypes and answer questions from ‘Mock Venture Capitalists’ from the Leffell community, multiple times throughout the year.
E-Band and Concaution were both selected by CIJE earlier this year, around the time of the organization’s annual “Innovation Day” in the Spring. The event for tri-state area high school students was held in Holmdel, N.J. on May 19, 2019. Over 1,300 students from various Jewish high schools — including a large number of students from Leffell — attended.
Concaution, developed by seniors Jessica Baden, Grace Davis, Leah Feilbogen and Maya Rabinowitz, is a headband to help prevent, detect, and notify users of concussions, specifically marketed for athletes. Despite their loss, the company has had the opportunity to pitch their product in different contexts to represent the school, including to New York State Senator and Majority Leader Andrea Stuart Cousins earlier this year, as she toured Leffell’s STEAM wing.
Winning team E-Band developed a band that inflates to provide pressure to an open wound, with the goal of preventing major blood loss in emergencies. The product also measures an individual’s heart rate, sending that information to first responders to help them take immediate action.
At the end of the day, in addition to receiving a winning trophy, E-Band was granted the opportunity to work with attorneys to help file for a provisional patent for their product and develop it further.
“We said thank you and were appreciative up there. The fact that out of [seven] teams, only three teams thanked the organizers for the event and out of those three teams, two of them were our teams, I think that says a lot,” Aviv said. “Not only am I proud of what they did and how professional they were, but they demonstrated the kindness that is important to me, also.”