3 local teams compete to be BUILDFest’s 2024 Southwestern PA Youth Pitch champions

Photo by Brooke Cagle via Unsplash.

Since 2021, teams of teen innovators from high schools and community organizations in the Pittsburgh area have competed each spring at BUILDFest. After working for months on their projects, these teams pitch their innovative business ideas in hopes of becoming the 2024 Southwestern PA Youth Pitch Champions.

This year, BUILDFest SWPA is happening on Wednesday, May 15, at the Energy Innovation Center.  This evening includes an opening reception with a gallery walk featuring all 10 of this year’s semi-finalist teams, followed by the final round of competition in front of a panel of VIP judges and hundreds of BUILD community members.

That’s when the three finalist teams will compete for the title and $10,000 in combined prizes for the students and their schools. The judges include Grable Foundation program officer Tracey Armant, Heinz Endowments program officer Dean Richards, Urban Pathways Charter School director of curriculum Dr. Reginald Hickman and BUILD’s president and CEO Thais Rezende.

This year’s semi-finalists, who did virtual presentations for the BUILDFest judges on April 17 and 18, are:

  • College Connect, from Northgate High School
  • Drako’s Animations, Penn Hills Charter School of Entreprenuership
  • Kicking it with Kelly, from Northgate High School
  • Omni Connect, from Burrell High School
  • Preservers, from Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy
  • Preventors, from Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy
  • Smart Bed, from Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy
  • Tranquility Trainers, from McKeesport High School
  • T.S.Z. Vision, from Monessen High School
  • Zapped, from Northgate High School

These teams worked during January through March to complete a 10-hour design challenge.  They have been fine-tuning their pitches since then.

The finalists this year: Pittsburgh Westinghouse’s Preservers, Drako’s Animations from Penn Hills Charter School and Northgate’s Zapped.