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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
Top Illinois Tech Students Identified Through 2012 ITA Fall Challenge
Undergraduate Bill Waldrep From the University of Chicago and PhD Student Murph Finnicum From the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Win the 2012 Fall Challenge Presented by Backstop Solutions Group

CHICAGO, IL -- (Marketwire) -- 11/19/12 -- The Illinois Technology Association (ITA) proudly announces the winners of the 2012 Fall Challenge Presented by Backstop Solutions Group. The Final Challenge brought 55 students to Chicago, introducing them to Illinois technology companies to attract them to the growing Chicago tech industry.

Bill Waldrep of the University of Chicago, Jesse Young from IIT, and Garrett Padera from the University of Illinois at Chicago earned the top 3 scores for Undergraduates, each receiving cash prizes of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 respectively. Ph.D. student Murph Finnicum from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign took the top honor for advanced degrees.

"Illinois is home to some of the top technology universities in the country and we want to encourage students at these schools to stay in Illinois when they graduate," said Governor Pat Quinn. "The ITA Fall Challenge helps connect our brightest students with some of our most innovative companies and builds the talent pool for future economic growth."

"The 2012 ITA Fall Challenge has driven the visibility of our company and introduced us to the next generation of talented technologists," said Chris Brown, Director of Engineering, Backstop Solutions Group. "Our company connected with some of the brightest engineering minds coming from our local universities. We look forward to welcoming them to the local tech industry."

Students in attendance participated in interviews with Presenting Sponsor, Backstop Solutions Group, and Supporting Sponsors ADP, kCura, Nokia, and redbox.

"Growing the awareness of the local technology industry, with the support of companies like our Presenting Sponsor, Backstop Solutions Group, will bring much needed technology talent to the local industry," said Fred Hoch, President ITA. "Attracting and retaining top technology talent, fostered by the world-class universities here in the Midwest, not only fuels the economic growth of the region but establishes Chicago as a tech hub on a national level, attracting new businesses and funding."

The ITA thanks Presenting Sponsor Backstop Solutions Group; Supporting sponsors ADP, kCura, Nokia, and redbox; and Participating sponsor companies Applied Systems, Centro, ChannelIQ, MBX Systems, and Nxt Team.

ITA and Backstop congratulate all the 2012 ITA Fall Challenge Finalists on their great achievements.

Bradley University
Anthony Stephan

Illinois Institute of Technology
Eduardo Garcia Berrocal
David Biedrzycki
Dinesh Kesavan
Jesse Young

Loyola University
Mbaunguaraije Tjikuzu

Northern Illinois University
Eric Bellefontaine
John Kakumanu
Vincent Schramer
Zhihao Yuan

Northwestern University
Ross Epstein
Seth Nelson

Southern Illinois University
Dabin Ding
Jason Fairfield

University of Chicago
Jeremy Archer
Michael Begun
Sean Hogan
Daniel Mane
Grant Rotskoff
Henry Steinitz
Bill Waldrep

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Zachary Avila
George Brova
Steven Canning
Jaehyun Cho
Murph Finnicum
Chase Geigle
Matthew Hoffman
Brent Hronik
Sean Hurley
Devesh Jhunjhunwala
Eric Johnson
Thomas Johnston
Eric Joyner
Elizabeth Kelly
Xiang Li
Nicholas Lu
Sean Massung
Kerui Min
Zachary Reizner
Rohit Sanbhadti
Tianhui Shi
Kyle Spesard
Michael Staszel
Brian Wang
Alexandar Zhu

University of Illinois at Chicago
Sean Deitz
BM Hossain
Garrett Padera
Jack Petraitis
Anthony Phelps
Celeste Wallace

For more information about the ITA and the Fall Challenge, visit

About the ITA
The Illinois Technology Association (ITA) is the driving force behind the growth of Illinois' vibrant technology industry. Providing programs and services focused on development, visibility, and talent attraction, ITA accelerates the growth of member company's businesses. ITA brings growth-stage industry companies together, leveraging the connections and experiences of the community to increase the overall success rate of the local industry. Championing the development and application of technologies and leveraging its transformative nature, ITA is an invaluable resource for growing companies. For more information about ITA, please visit

Contact the ITA at, follow the discussion on Twitter at @itabuzz, and visit to find out more about how ITA supports the growth of the local industry.

About Backstop Solutions Group
Backstop Solutions Group, LLC is a privately held Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform company, providing cutting-edge software to hedge funds, funds of funds, endowments and other institutional investors. Backstop Solutions was founded in 2003 and is one of the fastest growing software providers in the financial services industry. Backstop Software is used by more than 350 firms throughout the United States, Europe and Asia and has been repeatedly recognized by industry leading managers and service providers as a top technology provider in the alternative asset management field.

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