September 21, 2015

Texas A&M Students Win Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition

By: Sean Cartell

ATLANTA – Texas A&M University Ph.D. students Brandon Sweeney and Blake Teipel were selected as winners of the Student Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition on Monday, the second day of the 2015 Southeastern Conference Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

Sweeney and Teipel are both Ph.D. candidates in Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M. Resting on breakthrough technologies within the field of materials science and engineering, they have created an innovative and accessible solution to the problem of high-cost and unreliable, high-mobility prosthetic devices by using smart nanotechnology and next-generation materials for Additive Manufacturing (3D printing).

“This competition was a first for the SEC Symposium, and given the incredibly positive feedback we received from the students, judges and attendees, it proved to be a special aspect of this year’s event,” said Torie Johnson, Executive Director of SECU, the SEC’s Academic Initiative. “All 14 teams should be commended for their achievements, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for each of them.”

The student entrepreneurial pitch competition included teams from each of the SEC’s 14 universities presenting their pioneering ideas to a panel of SEC alumni judges in two preliminary rounds. The top three teams moved on to the final round, where they presented their plans to a different set of judges and all SEC Symposium attendees.

“This was a snapshot in time of the products that the innovation programs within the universities of the SEC are producing,” said Erik Sander, Director of the Engineering Innovation Institute at the University of Florida and a member of UF’s local organizing committee for the SEC Symposium. “If you look at the foundational technology and concepts, these are not only some great ideas and opportunities, but a very diverse set of opportunities.”

In addition to Texas A&M, the other finalists included Ph.D. students from the University of Arkansas (Seth Shumate and Matthew Young) and MBA students from the University of Tennessee (John Born, Dustin Giltnane and Jake Rheude). The awards on Monday were presented by SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.

Entitled Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Driving a 21st Century Economy, the 2015 SEC Symposium concludes on Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.