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Engineering Scores Big with 1st SHARK TANK Competition

Engineering Interim Dean Bruce Locke (far right) and Entrepreneur in Residence Mike Devine present the winners, Anthony Giordan and Thor Cutler, their 1st Place Prize.

On April 14 the College of Engineering hosted a highly competitive and engaging business pitch competition among 7 technology-based commercial venture ideas. They ranged from a single person, pre-engineering freshman idea, Optical Auto, for an after-market car backup camera system to an 8-person senior design team Portable Hydroelectric Generator to provide electricity to remote, underdeveloped parts of the world. These 7 finalists were chosen from a preliminary Shark Tank round of 15 competitors who applied.

The 5 judges for the Final Round who volunteered their time were Reis Alsberry, FAMU tech transfer director, Micah Wyden, CEO of Domi Station incubator, Ron Frazier, Entrepreneur in Residence in the FSU Business School, David O'Hara, founder of Parallax, Inc., and William Sun, Danfoss Turbocorp, Tallahassee. The event was very well attended with 100+ in the audience, including FSU President John Thrasher. Dr. Charmane Caldwell, Engineering's Director of Diversity and Diversity, served as the Master of Ceremonies.

The prize winners chosen by the judges were:

  • First Place $1,250: Smart Streetlight Systems led by Electrical Engineering Seniors Thor Cutler and Anthony Giordano
  • Second Place $750: Dynamic Shooting Range led by Mechanical Engineering Senior Jordon Rasmussen

The People's Choice Award (determined by a vote of the audience) went to:

  • Keishon Smith, Electrical Engineering Sophomore for NOLLAC: Enabling Creativity in the Kitchen, a smart-phone app.

Other competitors who received rave reviews were:

  • KidKonnect, Caroline Sorrick (Senior IME)
  • Optiical Auto, Jarrod Luca (Freshman Pre-Engineering)
  • Portable Hydroelectric Generator, Shane Radosevich (Senior ME)
  • The Topper Stopper, Mateo Quintanilla (Senior ECE)

Tucker Russ, one of the team members on for the winning Smart Streetlight System team said

"Shark Tank was a great experience for me and my team. It allowed us to further my idea and take it beyond just senior design. It let us understand all the business aspects and what is required to make a great business pitch in order to grab the attention of potential investors. I highly recommend any engineer who has an idea to give it a shot because even if you don't win, you will take home a wealth of information related to transforming your idea into a business."

The event received major support from FSU's Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship and was assisted by the student organization, the Society of Engineering Entrepreneurs (SEE).