Purdue News

March 24, 2005

Entrepreneurial competition to showcase students' product creation

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Creativity will join productivity on April 1-2 during the second annual Engineering Projects in Community Service Idea-to-Product Competition at Purdue University.

Jasmine Hall, Alexei Czeskis
check their EPICS project

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The contest, which will take place in Room 121 of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Purdue's Discovery Park, recognizes the entrepreneurial spirit of students who use their engineering talents to help their communities. Awards include cash prizes, ranging from $15,000 to $1,000.

Five Purdue Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) teams will compete from 7:30-9:30 p.m. April 1, with the three Purdue finalists advancing to the national competition, which will take place from 1-5:30 p.m. April 2, followed by a dinner and awards presentation. The competition is are free and open to the public.

National EPICS teams are from Purdue, Butler University and Bedford North Lawrence High School in Bedford, Ind. The university and high school teams qualify for the competition by participating in the Engineering Projects in Community Service, EPICS, and social entrepreneurship projects in their respective areas.

"This competition is a partnership between the EPICS program at Purdue and Purdue's Krannert School of Management," said Edward Coyle, director of the EPICS Entrepreneurship Initiative, who is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-founder of EPICS.

"The competition enables students to commercially develop the products they created for their communities through the program, because many of their prototypes have commercial value," he said.

Since EPICS started in 1995 with five Purdue teams, more than 140 products have been created for the program's community partners. Currently, the community service program has been implemented at 14 other universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Georgia Institute of Technology, Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For the Idea-to-Product competition, teams of students define, design, build, test and implement a product that will help solve an engineering problem for their respective project partner. For example, the 2004 Idea-to-Product first place award went to a team that created an electronic database for the Indiana judicial system. Probation departments in Tippecanoe and Jasper counties are currently using the database created by the winning team.

"This is a great way for students to get firsthand experience in creating a product," said Nancy Clement, EPICS entrepreneurship program coordinator. "It opens up a new way of thinking for many of the students because it is the first time they are exposed to the world of business. They learn about intellectual property, patents, market analysis, supply and demand, cost effectiveness, and other business considerations. These are things students would not necessarily have been exposed to in their engineering coursework."

Judges for the competition score the products on several criteria including the innovative application of the technology, creativity of the product or service idea, market need and the intellectual-property strategy.

The student teams, totaling more than 280 students on 24 different teams, started working on their product feasibility plans last fall.

This year's Purdue competition includes several products created by student teams, such as:

  • Talk-a-Toy, where new technology is used to create an interactive way to teach children English, spelling and mathematics. This team's partner is the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy.

  • Sound exposure meter, a device that alerts the user when there is a potential risk for his or her hearing to be damaged. This team's partner is the Purdue Speech, Language and Audiology Clinic.

The EPICS Entrepreneurship Initiative is housed in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Purdue's Discovery Park. In addition to its partnership with the Krannert School, EPICS partners with the Purdue Technology Transfer Initiative and the Purdue Innovation Realization Lab. The competition is also sponsored by Lilly Endowment Inc., Hollister Inc. and Bose, McKinney and Evans LLP.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192, csequin@purdue.edu


Sources: Coyle, (765) 494-3470, coyle@purdue.edu

Clement, (765) 494-9884, nic@purdue.edu


Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


Related Web sites:
Purdue University Home Page


PHOTO CAPTION:
Final preparations for the Purdue University Engineering Projects in Community Service "Idea-to-Product" Competition are underway. Lafayette Adult Resource Academy team members Jasmine Hall, a junior in speech, language and hearing science; and Alexei Czeskis, a sophomore in computer science and mathematics, do last minute tinkering with their project "Talk-a-Toy." The project uses new technology to create an interactive way to teach children English, spelling and mathematics. This project and several others will compete in the event that recognizes the entrepreneurial spirit of students who use their engineering talents to help their communities. Awards include a number of cash prizes, ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2005/EPICS-talkatoy.jpg

 

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