Student wins seed money for business project

Illiana Mata and Kristine Ouzts MESA, Arizona – May 17, 2018 – Illiana Mata, a Mesa Community College business major and ASU Poder participant, won $5,000 in seed money from the 2018 Cisco Innovation Challenge to help launch her RightWay Technologies project.

The Cisco challenge, is designed to empower a generation of global problem solvers to suggest new Internet of Things solutions and technologies. The goal is to connect more devices and everyday objects to the internet or other networks to address challenges in education, healthcare, manufacturing, energy, retail, transportation, smart cities, or other industries.

The Cisco seed money will help me bring on a systems architect and eventually build a prototype,” said Mata.

Mata’s project, which is already licensed, stems from her family’s encounter with a high-speed, wrong-way driver. RightWay uses technology to alert authorities of a wrong-way driver while simultaneously disabling the vehicle.

She learned about the Cisco Innovation Challenge through her participation in the ASU Poder Program offered at MCC. She encourages others to take advantage of the program offered at five of the Maricopa Community Colleges.

As Pema Chodron wrote, 'Fail, fail again, fail better.' If you have an idea, just go with it but always be open to suggestion,” she said.

"We are proud of Illiana's victory in the Poder competition. She shows that students can translate what they learn in the classroom into innovative ideas,” said Richard Toler, Jr., Ph.D., M.B.A., MCC Occupational Program Director, General Business. “Kristine Ouzts [MCC Business & Information Systems faculty] has worked hard to promote and lead the Poder program on the Mesa Community College campus. I am grateful for her commitment to supporting our entrepreneurial students."

ASU Poder is a five-week entrepreneurship program offered at no cost to Maricopa Community College students by Arizona State University. Supported by grant funding from the Cisco corporate advised fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, this program trains students to apply entrepreneurship skills to solve community issues, shows how technology can maximize their positive impact on the world and illustrates how to pitch their business ideas.

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Media contact: Dawn Zimmer, 480-461-7892,

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized for service-learning, career and technical programs, civic engagement and innovative approaches to higher education. The college serves as a resource for career readiness, transfer education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 30,000 students annually, MCC offers more than 150 degree and certificate programs at its two campuses and additional locations. MCC is an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution with a diverse student body that enriches the learning experience. Renowned faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to compete locally and nationally. MCC, located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, is one of 10 colleges comprising the Maricopa County Community College District. For additional information visit

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Publication Date: 
Thursday, May 17, 2018