Hammond and Umali win awards at Texas State University Innovation Lab at SXSW

Student Experience

Julie Cooper | February 14, 2022

four people on bank of river
Dan Roy, Entrepreneur in Residence in the McCoy College of Business, with award winners Lois Adrianne Umali and Connor Hammond

Texas State University students Connor Hammond and Lois Adrianne Umali are the 2022 recipients of the Nina Vaca Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award presented to one undergraduate and one graduate student along with $1,000 in recognition of their outstanding work.  

The award highlights the innovators and entrepreneurs thriving in all disciplines across the growing ecosystem at Texas State and recognizes the power of an entrepreneurial mindset to change the world for the better. 

Hammond is graduate student in the College of Science and Engineering and the founder of Bobcat Aerospace Team, which was created to give students hands-on experience in the design and manufacturing of an aerospace vehicle. The goal is to design and build a level 3 sounding rocket capable of delivering a 9-pound payload to 10,000 feet.

Umali is a senior in Communication Disorders and lead interviewer for the Nurturing Neurodiversity App Innovation Lab team. The app is designed to help people with Autism Spectrum Disorder improve the quality of their social interactions by identifying the emotion of the conversational partner.

Vaca (B.A. ’94) is the chair and CEO of The Pinnacle Group, a Dallas-based workforce solutions provider. The endowment named for her was established within the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Texas State, which brings together people, resources and entrepreneurial training opportunities for students and community partners.  

“Thanks to the incredible generosity of Nina Vaca, the CIE recognizes two exceptional students each year for their inspiring work as innovators and entrepreneurs. We are thrilled to showcase at South by Southwest, two shining examples of the many student bobcats across campus who are working to change the world for the better,” Dan Roy, entrepreneur in residence, McCoy College of Business Administration.  

The 2022 Innovation Lab at SXSW was held March 13 in Austin. The 15 project teams represented were made up of students, faculty, and staff from all disciplines and research areas, representing the innovation and diversity at Texas State.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922