CLAS students dominate 2023 IdeaStorm competition

Eleven out of the fifteen 2023 IdeaStorm winners are CLAS students.
Monday, March 20, 2023

By Charlotte Brookins 

Eleven students from the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) won grants at a recent pitch competition hosted by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. Thirty-nine students showed up to compete and fifteen received awards. CLAS students made up more than half of the winners. 

Sammi deNeui
Sammi deNeui

Inventions ranged from infrared technology to detect glucose in blood, to a no-waste convenience store, and re-purposing candles into succulent pots. With a total of $5,000 awarded and individual awards ranging from $100 to $500, the winning students will have the opportunity to take their inventions to the next level. 

“The idea that I pitched was opening a cat café in the downtown Iowa City area,” says Sammi deNeui, a junior communications studies major, minoring in human relations and pursuing a certificate in entrepreneurial management.  

The café would have two different sections, one functioning as a coffee shop and the other serving as an area to both drink coffee and interact with adoptable cats.  

“I hope to partner with a humane society, which would allow the cats to be adopted,”deNeui, says.  

Joslin Some
Joslin Some

The cat café won first place in the competition’s common good category, earning her $500 to put towards the development of her project. 

Another CLAS student involved in the competition is Joslin Some, a senior computer science and engineering major whose project won him $300 in the consumer solutions category. He pitched glasses that could perform facial recognition.  

“There would be a camera lens as well as a display attached to the glasses frame, allowing the wearer to see names in real time,” Some explains. “The overall system would come with a mobile application allowing the user to create an account, consent to being viewed, as well as view accounts of people they've recently viewed through their glasses.” 

Both Some and deNeui are planning to use their prize money to take their projects to the next level of development. For more information and a full list of the winners, visit the JPEC website


The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.