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Engineering Sharks Swarm to Innovation

Evelyn Bradshaw led Horizon Hoverboards team to the People’s Choice Award win.

Brilliance and innovation were on full display at the 2nd Annual FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Technology Business Pitch Competition. The event, which took place on April 13, consisted of seven teams made up of students studying engineering, business, economics, finance and accounting.

Teams took turns pitching their best entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of five judges. These judges challenged each team to defend the viability of their projects. At times, audience members piped in with tough questions, which only made the competition fiercer. Ideas from this year’s contest ranged from a unique hoverboard design to a specialized guitar case.

As students championed their innovative ideas in front of a packed room, they recognized this was more than just a business pitch competition. There was real money on the line - money that they could use to further develop their ideas.

“Coming into this year I was really nervous and intimidated by senior design as well as the Shark Tank competition but honestly I got put in the hands of the best team I possibly could have.” - Sam Rubin

This competition is sponsored by FSU’s Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship, and the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering’s Society of Engineering Entrepreneurs, and the College’s Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program. Led by Engineering faculty, Drs. Charmane Caldwell and Mike Devine, this event has gained traction since its creation. With their further investment, and students expressed creativity, the event will continue to grow year after year.

Caldwell, director of Diversity & Inclusion, and Devine, Entrepreneur-in-Residence formed the idea for this competition following a visit they had at Stanford University’s Pathways to Innovation Program conference in 2015. “Dr. Devine and I wanted to find a way to engage students by getting entrepreneurship into our undergraduate curriculum.

Shark Tank was the perfect choice for this endeavor,” says Caldwell.

Devine said he was especially pleased that, “this year we had several students from outside of the College of Engineering who participated on design teams with younger engineering students, and did an excellent job.”

A special thank you to this year’s judges for taking time out of their day to thoughtfully critique and score the business pitches. Judges included Mark Earley (Leon County Supervisor of Elections), Tracy Bensley (Talquin Electric Cooperative), William Bilbow (Danfoss), Susan Fioritio (Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship) and Jeff Phipps, (Marshmallow Fun Company).

This year’s winners are:

First place ($1,000): Ultimate Guitar Cases, led by seniors Austin Moore, Sam Rubin, Grant Kleiner, Jovanny Davila.  

Second place ($750): Power Trak, led by Brad Bone, Fiona Robertson, Jorge Cabrera, Kendall Parker, Matt Hadine. 

Third place ($500): Incredibowl, led by Rufus Caple III, Kiernan Farmer, Maria Perez, Mateo Quintanilla, Eddie Gibson. 

People’s Choice Award ($250): Horizon Hoverboards: led by Evelyn Bradshaw, Brian Ross, Jonathan Levy, Kevin Sison, Shawn Drawdy. 

To learn more about student entrepreneurship at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, visit Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship web page, http://www.eng.famu.fsu.edu/eie/

YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwvMKjBaIes

The event was sponsored by:
Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship, Society of Engineering Entrepreneurs, and FAMU-FSU Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship