Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals Featured on Collegiate Times

VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Entrepreneurship ChallengeVT KnowledgeWorks is pleased to excerpt and present a piece by Caleb Govoruhk and Mike Liu of The Collegiate Times, internationally recognized provider of Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, and New River Valley news, on Wednesday’s Semifinals event. The article, published Friday, April 1, provides an excellent description of VTKW’s annual Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals, including team descriptions and quotes from student participants. Thank you, Collegiate Times, for attending and documenting the 2016 VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals!

The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center attracted an enthusiastic mass of students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, March 30 who gathered in entrepreneurial spirit to facilitate a competition between seven teams of Virginia Tech students, each competing for attention and $5,000 and $10,000 prizes.

The Global Entrepreneurship Challenge was hosted by VT KnowledgeWorks, which is an organization comprised of Blacksburg area businesses and entrepreneurs. According to VTKW’s website, the organization “encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship worldwide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers and a global network of cooperating regions.”

Similar to ABC’s reality television show “Shark Tank,” the event required candidates to pitch their business ideas to judges, professionally and swiftly. The event featured judges from both Virginia Tech and Radford University, all of whom had experience with marketing and management.


After a brief introduction by Jim Flowers, the executive director of VT KnowledgeWorks, the first group, iWaste, presented its product, a MEC-FO system that treats livestock wastewater and enables more efficient running of dairy farms. Composed of group members Shuai Luo, Katherine Olson, Mohan Qin and Hayden (Hei Tsun) Tse, the group demonstrated how its product would revolutionize the agricultural industry.

Park and Diamond, Inc.

Park and Diamond, Inc., composed of Jordan Klein and David Hall, demonstrated a simpler, more aesthetically pleasing bicycle helmet, inspired by the co-founder’s sister’s bicycle accident in which she was riding without a helmet. It was named for the street intersection where the incident happened, and the team sought to inspire more cyclers to wear helmets by making a sleeker and more stylish product.

Glide Robotics

Glide Robotics, presented by Yuan Lin, Dalton Hare, David Jensen, Atul Kumar, Jason Lin, Jonah Orevillo and Karim Said, is a group of engineering students who are designing an educational system with unmanned area vehicles (UAV) to teach the basic knowledge of engineering.

“With UAVs, we are creating products that are cable of teaching engineering fundamentals to engineering freshmen and hopefully to the global market,” the developing group said. “That’s our goal.”

Biological Systems and Solids

Biological Systems and Solids was presented by Jacob Cantor. The whole idea was about using and capturing the power of feces. The final product after the energy was taken from the feces will be used in fly ash, which is a valuable product in concrete. The process starts with using biosolids to clean up the feces and then capturing the ash from the waste. The ash will be sold to concrete mixers. Cantor’s idea intends to solve an environmental problem with a local process and save money on transportation cost. It also provides a source of green energy.

Yard Mapper

Yard Mapper was presented by David Evans and Patrick Acker. Evans and Acker purposed that finding trailers is a big issue for many famous companies. For example, they mentioned their experience with Frito Lay and Volvo, where locating trailers is a huge issue.

According to Evans and Acker, finding trailers is difficult because workers have no resources to help them in their search, meaning many resort to a tedious one-by-one search.

As a result, many companies ended up wasting time and paying penalty fees. Yard Mapper pitches itself as a solution to this problem. It is a system that consists of a Bluetooth receiver and a Bluetooth detector which require no extensive infrastructure. By installing the Bluetooth receiver on each trailer, workers can easily find specific trailers. Compared to other similar systems already on the market, the Yard Mapper takes less time to install and is much more affordable.


Leva was presented by Martin Trapero, Marco Perez-MacCollum and Guillermo Semidey. Leva is a wristband device which is designed with the purpose of helping individuals learn and improve their communication skills. Leva sends real-time feedback to the individuals as they are communicating. It can help improve a user’s personal communication skills and prevent him or her from making further mistakes while communicating. Leva is believed to be useful during the training period, and it can also help users during real-life situations.


Haven was presented by Emily Wills, Kirby Emerson, Ruby Kang, Sean Palmer, Chris Dare, Dennis Ann and Ashlyn Jenkins. Haven is a wristband device designed with the purpose of helping people in emergency situations.

By twisting the device, Haven will be activated and will send out information about the user’s location to the emergency contacts. The twisting action takes less than a second. Compared to other methods to ensure one’s safety, Haven is quicker, faster and less suspicious if one is actually in some situation that his or her life is in danger. In addition, the twisting design can reduce the number of false alarms compared to a button design. The developing group believes Haven’s user group is mostly female college students and their parents.

Park and Diamond was the biggest winner at the 2016 VTKW Global Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals. The two founders received the Plastics One Advanced Manufacturing Award for their outstanding tangible product along with the grand prize.

Jordan Klein and David Hall received a total amount of $15,000 in scholarships. Haven received the VT KnowledgeWorks Information Technology Award along with $5,000 in scholarships. Yard Mapper received the People’s Choice Award sponsored by the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business along with $5,000 in scholarships.

“First, we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity,” Jordan Klein said. “I think student competition like this really allows innovation to happen. I know for a fact we would not be what we are today if we weren’t pressured and given this opportunity.”

The Haven group was satisfied with the results of the ceremony.

“Even if we hadn’t won, there would have been a lot of fun too,” the development group said. “Being able to complete all the steps in this process and get to how far we have come is really great.”

The members of Yard Mapper, David Evans and Patrick Acker, thought the whole event was a valuable experience for students.

“It was a prime opportunity for a number of students here to really step out of the classroom and pitch a business that they had and then also receive some phenomenal feedback from highly esteemed individuals in a number of different industries,” Acker said.

VT KnowledgeWorks wants to thank our generous sponsors of the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals including Plastics One Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, and Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business.

For more information contact Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, at 540-443-9100, extension 1 or at [email protected].

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles, access to timely, relevant information, and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Allegheny Logistics GroupAutomation Creations, Inc., BAE SystemsBB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, Carilion ClinicCelaneseCIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, First Bank & Trust CompanyG.J. Hopkins, Inc.National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Plastics One Inc., PowerSchoolRackspace, Shentel, SimulTV, SMBWSunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union Bank & Trust, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc., and Wordsprint.

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