While many UNH students were busy planning their Halloween costumes the weekend before last, senior Sam Warach had just earned a free trip to Las Vegas.
Warach, along with three other students, won the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center’s (ECenter) Hackathon event on Friday, Oct. 21. The event, sponsored by IBM and Datawatch, lasted 20 hours and challenged students to analyze data related to the upcoming presidential election. To complete the task, participants used IBM Watson Analytics and Datawatch software. The grand prize for the winning team was an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas for the IBM Watson Conference, which began on Oct. 24.
“We forecasted that Trump actually does have potential to win the popular vote,” Warach said in regard to his team’s efforts. “Based on the different data that we gathered using the softwares, we found trends that actually showed that he had very strong support, whereas Clinton had a much more sporadic support base.”
According to Warach, the conference provided a unique chance for him and his team members to get a taste of the professional world.
“We had an incredible opportunity to learn about Watson Cognos, Watson analytics [and] essentially the world of Watson,” he said. “Also, we had an incredible networking opportunity with a lot of professionals that we definitely would not have had the opportunity to network with otherwise.”
Envisioning professional life after college, however, is nothing new for Warach, who is the current chairman of the board of directors for UNH’s Entrepreneurship Club, and also a co-founder of the group. A dual finance and international affairs major, he’s familiar with Durham, having graduated from Oyster River High School in 2013.
Warach began working on the idea for the Entrepreneurship Club with Andrew Earle, a UNH assistant professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship, and a group of other students in fall 2014. According to Warach, the group now has “about 35 members” attending meetings weekly, where a variety of guest speakers regularly share their experiences in the business world.
“We like to have guest speakers come into the club, [such as] local entrepreneurs, small business owners [and] people with experience, to share their ideas and kind of gestate that entrepreneurial spirit that we can share with the UNH community,” he said. “What we’re really trying to do is bring the different colleges together and bridge the interdisciplinary gap to expand the minds of UNH students and make them more competitive for the future of the workforce.”
Along with connecting students from different disciplines, he said he believes the club can benefit UNH students professionally, regardless of their career goals.
“For UNH, I think [the club] doesn’t only help students who [want to] create their own business, it helps students who might want to join a startup or even join a large company, and bring innovative and creative ideas to improve the quality of work at any company and keep ideas fresh,” he said.
As the club continues its growth on campus, Warach has enjoyed his fair share of personal success as well, as one of the first four UNH students to be granted a fellowship through the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. Warach was nominated for the honor by UNH Innovation faculty, along with three engineering students, and is now working on a variety of initiatives through the grant with the other recipients.
“We’ve designed a bunch of different products incorporating design thinking, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship to really bring UNH into the top tier of universities,” he said.
As for his career after college, Warach is trying to “keep his opportunities open,” and said he would like to start his own venture before the end of the school year, though he has already a received a job offer for after graduation.