Indiana high school students showcase entrepreneurship skills, win tuition vouchers

July 1, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The state of Indiana could develop a more diverse, robust economy in the future thanks to 50 high school students who learned about the entrepreneurial process during a weeklong academy held at Purdue University.

The eighth annual Purdue Research Park Entrepreneurship Academy was June 22-27. Local business leaders and Purdue Research Park experts guided the students, who also experienced campus life at a leading research university.

Ten teams of five participants each received high-tech business cases at the beginning of the academy. Teams tested their technology's viability, identified capital needs and devised a management plan for their business cases. They then made investor presentations to a panel of judges, who scored each presentation. The three highest-scoring teams won tuition vouchers that were presented during a June 27 awards ceremony; the vouchers are accepted at all Purdue University campuses.   

First place and $500 vouchers went to Dimensional Diagnostics. The students, their high schools, and hometowns are: Ralaunda Bradshaw, Merrillville High School, Crown Point; Chad Hale, Brownsburg High School, Brownsburg; Stephen Lang, Barr-Reeve High School, Montgomery; Tyler Stout, Benton Central High School, West Lafayette; and Emily Stoy, Angola High School, Ashley. The team's mentor was Barron Hewetson of Spero Energy.

Second place and $250 went to Power Cube: Zuha Adeel, Signature School, Newburgh; Zachary Baker, Noblesville High School, Noblesville; Hayley Linback, Faith Christian School, Lafayette; Ryan Rotundo, Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne; and Joseph Viselli, Heritage Christian School, Indianapolis. The team's mentor was Pete Kissinger of Purdue University's Department of Chemistry.

Third place and $100 vouchers went to DermaCare: Elaynna Brashear, Washington High School, Washington; Nicholas Cramer, Trinity School at Greenlawn, South Bend; Joseph Holtz, Elkhart Central High School, Elkhart; David Torres, St. Theodore Guerin High School, Carmel; and Alyxandria Sundheimer, Franklin Community High School, Franklin. The team's mentor was Jessica Huber of SpeechVive.

The "Most Entrepreneurial Team" award went to Zephyr Effect: Amanda Balay, Fishers High School, Fishers; Noah Miller, Bremen High School, Bremen; Megan Snyder, Harrison High School, West Lafayette; Joel Travis, Linton-Stockton High School, Linton; and Ganesh Viswanathan, Signature School, Newburgh. The team's mentor was David Nolte of AniDyn.

The David E. Ross Award for Entrepreneurial Distinction and a $500 voucher was presented to Zachary Baker of Noblesville High School.

Other teams were:

Affinity: Matthew Bartels, LaPorte High School, LaPorte; Kaitlyn Leighton, Fishers High School, Fishers; Kyle Orzech, Taylor High School, Kokomo; Young Park, Bloomington High School North, Bloomington; and Matthew Williams, Whiteland Community High School, New Whiteland. The team's mentor was Stephen Christopher of Signature Settings.

C.I.A.: YiQi Duan, Merrillville High School, Crown Point; Brandon Fox, Wawasee High School, Warsaw; Michael Hagen, Fishers High School, Fishers; Justin Rice, Benton Central High School, Fowler; and Sydney Ziegler, Signature School, Mount Vernon. The team's mentor was Mike Shepard of Rock Castle Partners.
Cloud 9: Scott Clark, West Lafayette High School, West Lafayette; Shane Flanagan, Castle High School, Evansville; Brody Harter, New Palestine High School, Indianapolis; Lyndsay Herbst, Valparaiso High School, Valparaiso; Jack Johnson, Carmel High School, Carmel. The team's mentor was Davin Huston of Sonic Apricity.

CropWatch: Abigayle Carter, Jimtown High School, Elkhart; Bryce Hibbler, Hamilton Southeastern High School, Fishers; David Preuss, Trinity School at Greenlawn, Granger; Lucas Weinzapfel, F.J. Reitz High School, Evansville; and Grace Wernert, South Newton High School, Brook. The team's mentor was Mike Asem of BlueVine Graphene Industries.

Envision: Grace Gebo, Mishawaka High School, Mishawaka; Kaleb Guess, East Central High School, Lawrenceburg; Joseph Hutzel, Central Catholic High School, Lafayette; Ben Scholer, Carmel High School, Carmel; and Sarah Zia, Crown Point High School, Crown Point. The team's mentor was Chris Beltran of Vendorcamp.

Terra Nova: Da'Ja'Nay Askew, Merrillville High School, Crown Point; Josh Cruse, Westfield High School, Westfield; Kristin Martin, New Castle High School, New Castle; Alexander Roberts, Triton Central High School, Fountaintown; and Liam Trumble, Harrison High School, West Lafayette. The team's mentor was Andrew Otte of Biokorf.

Johnny Park, founder and CEO of Spensa Technologies Inc., was the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony. Judges were Susan Davis of Hoosier Heartland Small Business Development Center, Julia Gard of Barnes & Thornburg, Glenn Johnson of BlueVine Graphene Industries and Tim Peoples of Purdue Foundry.

Sponsors of the eighth annual Purdue Research Park Entrepreneurship Academy were Duke Energy Foundation, Accent on Business, Arni's, Awards Unlimited, Bill DeFouw Chevrolet-BMW, Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Caterpillar Foundation, CSO Architect, Denhart family with a matching gift from General Electric, Great Harvest Bread Co., Hot Box Pizza, Knoy Apparel, Purdue College of Agriculture, Purdue College of Engineering, Purdue College of Technology, Purdue Federal Credit Union, Purdue Krannert School of Management, Sign Art Etc., and Stuart & Branigin.

About Purdue Research Park

The Purdue Research Park is the largest university-affiliated business incubation complex in the country. The Purdue Research Park manages the Purdue Technology Centers at four sites in Indiana -  West Lafayette, Indianapolis, Merrillville and New Albany. The more than 260 companies located in the park network employ about 4,500 people who earn an average annual wage of $63,000. The park is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

Writer: Vibha Salgamay, 765-588-5619,

Purdue Research Park Contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342,

Source: Juliana Casavan, 765-588-3368,

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