School of Information Sciences

iSchool students place in Randall Family Big Idea Competition


Last month, seven students presented H2Info, an online resource for people affected by water contamination, in the Randall Family Big Idea Competition. They placed 4th and won the People’s Choice Award; receiving $3,000 to fund their concept.

There are more than 20 million people in the United States who live in areas served by community water systems that are in violation of EPA lead and copper protocols. For these affected, H2Info will be a consolidated resource center that provides both knowledge and solutions.

H2Info will provide the following services to users:

Designing for Sustainability
The concept for H2Info was created in Fall 2016 when Raanan Gurewitsch, a sophomore Information Science student, began a chapter of Design for America at Pitt. Design for America is a national network of student communities committed to design, innovation, entrepreneurship, and the capacity to make change.

Once the concept was developed, they entered into the Sustainable Solutions Competition in February. Even though they did not win, they continued to refine their concept and later entered into the Randall Family Big Idea Competition.

“We got a lot of feedback throughout the process that was incredibly helpful,” said Christian Abad, a sophomore student majoring in Marketing. “What we had initially developed was a concept that utilized design and technology to solve a problem. They helped us enhance that concept and also build a business and financial model around it.”

Built to Benefit
Now that the competition is over, the team plans to continue to work on H2Info and build it into a viable Web site. They have been accepted into the Blast Furnace this summer, a program that provides Pitt student entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills necessary to market their ideas. Through this program, they hope to further refine their business and financial model.

“We have all become very passionate about this project,” said Gurewitsch. “We plan to continue working on H2Info until it makes a lasting impact across the nation.”

The Web site will launch by Fall 2017 with a focus on the Oakland area. The initial site will be an information source while they continue to develop the interactive map and other site contents.

The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is an experience-based learning opportunity for undergraduate and graduate Pitt students with big ideas that offers $100,000 in cash prizes to the ideas with the most promise. It is made possible through the generous support of the Randall Family.

To learn more about Design for America at Pitt, visit their Facebook page or contact Raanan Gurewitsch.

Meet the team:




Christian Abad

Marketing & Outreach lead

Marketing major; Computer Science minor

Colin Cusack

Financial operations

Math and Economics majors

Raanan Gurewitsch

Team lead

Information Science major; Economics minor

Ryan Rosenbaum

Research & Development

Mechanical Engineering major

Meera Rubinchik

Web design

Information Science major

Ryan Scheuer

Web design

Information Science major

Anna Tomani

Research & Development

Chemical Engineering major

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