Eagle Works competition moves to virtual format
By Buddy Pearson - Media Resources for Tennessee Tech
The seventh annual Eagle Works is still on. Tennessee Tech’s student innovation and entrepreneurship competition, which is like the television show Shark Tank, is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m. Instead of the usual competition on campus, student entrepreneurs will compete live in a virtual webinar that is open to public viewing. “I am thrilled that Eagle Works will continue this year,” said Michael Aikens, Tech’s director of innovation and entrepreneurship. “Our Eagle Works team has developed an innovative approach to ensure our student’s hard work is recognized this year.” The students have formed 10 interdisciplinary teams hailing from engineering, business, healthcare, agriculture, and humanities disciplines to solve societal problems. Each team has worked on their idea over the past two semesters, and faculty and university partners, including the Biz Foundry, have helped them with their research through a series of workshops, mentorship, and Eagle Works challenge events. Each team has created a business plan that required the students to conduct research in the areas of problem identification, market size and demand, and customer identification, and revenue generation. Also, the teams each created a 7-minute video pitch which communicates their ideas to the judges. The competition will feature finalist teams that will compete live in the virtual competition webinar. Judges from engineering, science, business, entrepreneurship and healthcare backgrounds will listen to each of the teams’ pitches, then engage in an interactive question-and-answer session with each team during the competition. “Deciding to turn this year's Eagle Works into a virtual competition was easy,” said Andrea Kruszka, the Eagle Works competition manager. “Our students have some truly inspired ideas and they've been working hard on their projects for months. We wanted to make sure they all have the opportunity to compete. Holding a remote contest is new territory, but we're excited for the challenge and can't wait to see our students present their ideas.” A pot of $20,000 in awards, funded entirely by donations from university friends and alumni, is up for grabs. The first-place winner will receive $10,000. There are additional awards for second place, third place, and several supplementary awards that recognize achievements for innovation, social impact, and creativity. The team whose idea most impacts a rural area will win the $2,500 Rural Reimagined award. The Rural Reimagined award was established to foster innovation and entrepreneurship surrounding Tennessee Tech’s Grand Challenge, Rural Reimagined. The award consists of a $1,500 scholarship and $1,000 of technical assistance from the Tennessee Tech Center for Rural Innovation. “The competition will be a fun, family activity that anyone can watch from the safety of their own home,” said Aikens. “I want to personally thank our faculty, staff, and university partners – and most importantly our student contestants – for rallying together in the face of this pandemic’s adversity to provide everyone with a unique experience which will certainly be remembered for a lifetime.” Students, faculty, family, friends, and community members are all encouraged to watch the competition through the webinar. The Eagle Works program is proud to host the competition virtually this year to ensure the safety of all involved during the COVID-19 crisis.