University of Southern Indiana

Ideation Project offers cash awards

Ideation Project offers cash awards

9/21/2009 | University Communications
Students at the University of Southern Indiana (USI) have the opportunity to develop creative business ideas and earn cash through the ARC Ideation Project during the 2009 fall semester. Students in all academic disciplines can compete by developing ideas for new products, new distribution methods, manufacturing upgrades, or other innovative suggestions for Evansville ARC Industries. Awards of $500, $300, and $200 will be given to students with the top ideas, and the first 100 entrants will receive a free flash drive.

ARC Industries employs over 300 workers every year, and over 200 of the employees have developmental disabilities. Deidra R. Conner, president of Evansville ARC and a 1987 USI graduate, said, "ARC Industries offers one-source solutions utilizing flexible, innovative, cost-effective manufacturing processes. We provide 'quick-to-market' alternatives for both low and high-volume operations."

She continued, “We are delighted to work with the USI faculty and students on the 2009 Ideation Project. This project is a great opportunity for Evansville ARC to benefit from the creativity and knowledge of the USI students, and an excellent opportunity for the students and faculty at USI to learn more about Evansville ARC and the many contributions individuals with developmental disabilities make to our community."

Elissa Bakke, project coordinator for the Center for Applied Research at USI said, “It has been an honor and a privilege for the Center for Applied Research to collaborate with ARC and the College of Business in developing this Ideation Competition. This social entrepreneurship competition gives our students an opportunity to truly make a positive impact on the lives of others. Rarely will students have the chance to directly create employment opportunities for others. With this competition, a successful product idea has the potential to allow ARC to stabilize its workforce, and add new job opportunities for their clients. Now that's a pretty good resume builder!"

A tour of the company and consulting hours will be offered to students who want to learn more about the company before submitting their ideas. ARC Industries is sponsoring a tour of the facilities on Saturday, October 3 at noon at the Kotter Avenue plant. Consulting will be available from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, September 29 in the University Center's Carter Hall D. Two ARC representatives will talk with students and provide answers to students' questions about the project.

The College of Business and the Center for Applied Research at USI are hosting the project, and Bryan Bourdeau, instructor in business, is the faculty sponsor. Bourdeau said, "The College of Business is excited to offer the fall ideation competition as a crowd sourcing model to help resolve sustainable workforce growth, a long-standing concern for Evansville ARC Industries. By tapping into the collective intelligence of the USI student populous, we hope to expedite and manage solutions for Evansville ARC Industries' concerns. If successful, the College of Business hopes this model also will serve as a catalyst for front-end innovation management for other businesses within our region."

He added, "Working in conjunction with Evansville ARC Industries will help students focus their ideas on specific products for ARC."

Bourdeau is accepting ideas through Monday, October 19, 2009. A web site at will give more information about the 2009 Ideation Project, including directions to the ARC Industries plant. Students are required to submit a one-page description about each idea. Students can reach Bourdeau at

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