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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

USI students to present novel tent concepts to Anchor Industries

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Betty Vawter
Senior Editor, News & Information Services
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University of Southern Indiana students will pitch their innovative concepts for the design of party tents on November 28 to judges of the Anchor Ideation Challenge, a partnership of the USI College of Business and Evansville-based Anchor Industries.

The presentations will take place from 8 a.m. to noon in the Dining Center at the Southern Indiana Career and Technical School at 1901 Lynch Road. Pete Mogavero, Anchor chairman and president, introduced the contest and challenged students to develop ways to make event tents unique and special as executive in residence for the College of Business in September.

Anchor is a leading manufacturer of outdoor, recreational, and industrial fabric products, specializing in a broad variety of tent products, pool covers, and awnings. Potentially, the company will use the students' ideas to add to its existing line of products for large corporate, hospitality, and sporting events or private functions such as weddings.

Nine teams with a total of 21 students representing the College of Business, Department of Engineering, and the College of Liberal Arts are participating in the competition. Students formed their own teams with some including individuals from a variety of disciplines. The contest has attracted students from the freshman through the senior years.

"We are encouraged and excited about the potential that exists in these young leaders and creative thinkers at USI," Mogavero said. "Having seen what they have done in the past for other companies - Berry and Escalade, to name a couple - it is uplifting to see their creativity and unique insight as they come to solutions with a fresh and passionate perspective. We can't wait to see the ideas they present as their renditions of new tent designs. By partnering with USI, it is a sincere effort to invest in the local community and economy by engaging and developing the leaders of tomorrow."

Each team will have 15 minutes, including a question-and-answer period, to make a presentation to a panel of six judges representing Anchor and the community. The winning team will receive an award of $2,500. The second-place team will receive $1,500. Top individual presenters will have an opportunity to interview for a summer internship with Anchor. If the company develops a contest idea that leads to a patent, students involved in the design will be listed on the patent.

Judging criteria include aesthetic appeal, ease of installation and maintenance, ability to increase brand awareness, simplicity of storage and transport, durability, environmental responsibility, and adaptability.

Throughout the 11 weeks of the contest, students have had opportunities to confer with Anchor executives in marketing, sales, and engineering and learn from USI faculty about ideation, innovation, and problem-solving. Anchor hosted an evening event in October that included a guided tour of facilities, hands-on experience in erecting tents, and opportunities to talk with company professionals.

Coordinating the competition for Anchor are Joey Ruffin, vice president for engineering, and Bruce Thompson, research and development engineering manager.

Dr. Chad Milewicz, assistant professor of marketing, coordinates the competition for the College of Business. Dr. Zane Mitchell, chair of the USI Department of Engineering, also is a lead faculty member. Engineering students will have the opportunity to develop one or more of the concepts from the contest as a part of their senior design projects.

Dr. Mohammed Khayum, dean of the College of Business, said Anchor is the third area company to contribute time and talent to co-sponsor an ideation contest as part of the college's executive-in-residence program. Berry Plastics initiated the first challenge in 2009. Escalade Sports partnered with the college on the contest in 2010.

"The networking and teamwork involved in the contest offer experiential learning opportunities which help students develop valuable skills that prepare them for the workplace," Khayum said. "The Anchor Ideation Challenge has given students multiple opportunities to meet with executives of a global company in a casual, collaborative environment to solve a real-world challenge."

For additional information, contact Niki Riat, manager of Corporate Marketing for Anchor Industries, at 812/867-4628 or niki_riat@anchorinc.com



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