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Annis School Hosts 3rd Annual Business Pitch Competition

corner_extensionThe R.B. Annis School of Engineering held its third annual Engineering Business Pitch Competition on April 20, 2021. The event had 65 participants comprising students, mentors, judges, faculty and guests. Four teams of engineering students presented their products and business models at the event. 

For the last nine months, students have worked with School of Engineering faculty and staff as well as industry mentors to develop competitive products and business models. The industry mentors included: Terry Moore (Huntington Bank); Richard Calvert and Payton Staman (Citizens Energy Group); Carl Boss (GTC Machining) and Zachary Holtgrewe (Allegion).

“Helping to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in students like the Business Pitch Competition does is not only beneficial to the industry, but I think it fosters a way for those students who are truly passionate about engineering to push themselves to their limits,” said Zachary Holtgrewe. “The School of Engineering has a great program and it’s been an honor working with my team.”

Students also worked with professor Rhonda Wolverton and her students from the Department of Art and Design. In addition, professor Marcos Hashimoto from the School of Business presented a seminar on business financial planning while Charles P. Schmal, a patent attorney from Woodard, Emhardt, Henry, Reeves & Wagner, LLP, presented a seminar on intellectual property protection to the engineering students. 

“The collaboration and innovation between many different people and departments really make this competition unique,” said Ken Reid, associate dean and director of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering. “Our students take these projects from business case to execution, taking a hands-on approach—a hallmark of our curriculum in the School of Engineering—every step of the way.”

According to Dr. David Olawale, assistant professor of engineering, the engineering students’ exposure to expertise and training from other disciplines is critical for innovation and for creating outstanding solutions that meet the needs of the customers in today’s globally competitive marketplace. “Collaboration is critical for successful innovation,” he said. “Our students are equipped with not just technical skills, but also the entrepreneurial mindset to focus on the customers’ needs and how to create value competitively.”

Richard Calvert, one of the industry mentors from Citizens Energy Group, says he is always impressed with how polished and professional the UIndy students are in their presentations. “I really do enjoy seeing the development of the products from the idea stage, to surveys for better understanding the needs of their potential customers, and lastly to the building and testing of a prototype for their product,” he added.

The competition ended with Team 9 (Spacious) coming in first place. The team designed an extendable desk that wowed the judges. Students on the team included Meredith Magee (project manager), Damla Silahyurekli (assistant project manager), Alex Ruble, Anthony Williamson, Nate Comely and Mark Sciutto.

“I was able to apply the knowledge I’ve learned in the classroom to solve a real world problem,” said Sciutto. “Working in the new engineering building gave us the resources and space necessary to complete it.”

“We also had some issues along the way, and using what I learned in other classes was crucial to solving them. So winning the business pitch competition was very gratifying,” Sciutto added.


The runner-up position went to Team 7 First Responder: Dalton Lowry (project manager) and Dylan Beach (assistant project manager). The team designed a storage system for first responders. 

Third place went to Team 6 who designed a touchless high flow rate liquid dispenser to curb the spreading of germs. The fourth position went to Team 8 who developed a system for tracking drivers’ behavior with the goal of saving fuel cost and reducing crashes.

The Elevate Nexus Higher Education grant provided funding support for the program as well as the R.B. Annis School of Engineering Center for Collaborative Innovation (CCI).