Newswise — UNLV and Beasley Media Group announced the winners of their inaugural Media Innovation Hackathon Jan. 10 at CES 2019. The Radio Heads, an all-freshman student team from UNLV, took top honors for a project exploring the conversion of radio waves into electrical energy that could potentially be used to charge devices.

Erick Serrano from the Radio Heads team explained how they came up with their idea: "Our teammate Ricardo was talking about how wireless charging isn't really wireless. So what if we figured out something to do with AM and FM frequencies that could charge a device?"

Though they found they were not able to directly convert radio frequencies into storable energy to charge wireless devices, the team ultimately used a crystal radio to show that small amounts of energy can be converted from radio waves to power a low-voltage LED light, and concluded that while the energy yield from radio waves is low, it is still possible to make use of them.  

"All of our team members worked really hard on this project. I'm really glad it paid off," said Yuria Mann, another team member from the Radio Heads.

“We love the idea of smart and logical innovations to ignite our thinking as a media company preparing for the future,” said Beasley Media Group Chief Executive Officer Caroline Beasley. “Many thanks to UNLV and their next generation of brilliant minds for collaborating with us on the Hackathon initiative.”

“We are so happy with the collaboration with UNLV and in particular the Hackathon teams,” said Buzz Knight, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Beasley. “The spirit of smart and innovative ideas being showcased at the most influential tech event in the world fits perfect with our core values at Beasley Media Group.”

The hackathon provided a unique opportunity for student inventors to generate innovative commercial products and services utilizing existing media technology, data, and infrastructure. Student teams spent the fall 2018 semester working with UNLV faculty mentors on hackathon projects, which were later judged by a panel of experts from Beasley and UNLV.

The resulting concepts represent the types of transformative, disruptive technologies that will become mainstream in the next 20 years.

First Place: Converting Radio Waves to Energy
Award: $5,000

Team members: Matias Allietti (mechanical engineering), Yuria Mann (computer science), Kristine Monsada (computer science), Ricardo Rodriguez (computer science), and Erick Serrano (computer science)

Faculty mentor: Natalierose Pennington (communication studies)

Second Place: Augmented Reality (AR) Headset for Tourism
Award: $2,500

Team members: Aldair Callejas (entertainment engineering and design), Peter Hernandez (computer science), and Edison Smith (biology)

Faculty mentor: Si "SJ" Kim (entertainment engineering and design)

Third Place: Fernwell Tourism App
Award: $1,000

Team members: Ricardo Guzman (business administration), Ashtin Hofert (mechanical engineering), Joshua Padilla (civil engineering), Francisco Reyes (political science), Allie Ryerson (economics and business administration), and Fausto Vega (mechanical engineering)

Faculty mentor: Bryan Blankfield (communication studies)

“We extend our heartiest congratulations to all our student hackathon innovators,” said Zach Miles, UNLV Associate Vice President of Economic Development. “We’re proud to honor their achievements and excited about the innovative solutions they’ve developed to help solve real-world industry problems." 

About Beasley Media Group:

Beasley Media Group, LLC is a subsidiary of Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc., which owns and operates 64 stations (46 FM and 18 AM) in 15 large- and mid-size markets in the United States. Approximately 19 million consumers listen to Beasley radio stations weekly over-the-air, online, on smartphones and tablets and engage with the Company’s brands and personalities through digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, text, apps and email.  For more information, please visit

About UNLV:

UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 30,000 students and 3,500 faculty and staff that is recognized as “very high research activity” by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. UNLV offers a broad range of respected academic programs and is on a path to join the top tier of national public research universities. The university is committed to recruiting and retaining top students and faculty, educating the region's diversifying population and workforce, driving economic activity through increased research and community partnerships, and creating an academic health center for Southern Nevada. Learn more at