Making oceans safer places to swim with artificial intelligence and sonar was the business idea that landed Maxim Zibitsker ’19 second place at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Tiger Tank entrepreneurial competition this fall. Zibitsker’s patented sonar-buoy system would alert lifeguards of drowning swimmers, an innovative approach to reducing fatalities that total 372,000 each year.
“I was exploring the connections between my coursework in computer science and my work as a lifeguard,” says Zibitsker, who began developing Aqua Salutem Technologies during the HWS IdeaLab last year. “I was surprised that there wasn’t already a tech solution to such a widespread problem.”
A double major in computer science and mathematics, Zibitsker competed in three Tiger Tank rounds against 60 teams from Rochester Institute of Technology before taking home a second-place finish.
“As an individual competitor, Maxim did an excellent job standing out among many excellent students, which was clearly demonstrated by his second-place showing,” says Ed Bizari, the Margiloff Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Fellow, who attended the finals competition at RIT. “It was impressive to watch. He presented, and defended, his technical product idea toe-to-toe against four technical teams from RIT. It was great to see the HWS liberal arts foundation play a significant role in bringing approachability to an otherwise technical idea.”
Last summer, Zibitsker continued his product research at the Colleges and is currently in the software development stage of making the product viable. To prepare for the annual RIT competition, Zibitsker received mentorship from HWS faculty members and staff at the Centennial Center. Bizari and Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies Craig Talmage have helped with his research and presentation, while Professor of Computer Science John Vaughn P’09 has provided guidance in navigating the world of artificial intelligence.
“I see a career rooted in innovation and technology in my future,” says Zibitsker, who has a standing scholarship offer from RIT’s Saunders College of Business.
On campus, Zibitsker has been a finalist in the 2017 Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch Contest with Aqua Salutem Technologies and competed in the New York Business Plan Competition. He is a member of the HWS Investment Club, volunteers with Geneva High School’s robotics team and participated in IBM’s Quantum Experience.