Take a whirlybird-type projectile, toss it into a target with multiple scoring options, add teams of players, and you have "Throw-Copter." That's the working name for the game concept that won top honors Tuesday for a team of three University of Southern Indiana students in a game-design contest sponsored jointly by the USI College of Business and Evansville-based Escalade, Inc.
Members of the winning team in the USI-Escalade Sports Ideation Contest are Sarah Krampe, freshman, marketing, Evansville, Michaela Hahn, junior, finance, Evansville, and Lucas Ball, junior, marketing and finance, Newburgh, Indiana. The team received $1,000 and the opportunity for members to interview for an internship in the Product Development Group of Escalade Sports.
Robert J. Keller, president and chief executive officer of Escalade, introduced the competition while serving as executive in residence for the College of Business in September. The challenge to USI students was to develop a competitive outdoor game that Escalade Sports can produce and market. Escalade hopes to manufacture and sell one or more of the resulting ideas in the future.
Each student team designed a product concept and developed a marketing plan for its product. Six teams were selected in preliminary judging by College of Business faculty to pitch their proposals Tuesday, November 16 to a panel of judges at Escalade Sports. The panel included Evan Lederman, category manager for Escalade Sports, Derrick Stewart, chief executive officer for the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana, Lucas Stippler, standout student athlete from Reitz Memorial High School, Kristen Tucker, editor and publisher of Evansville Living magazine, and Jordan Vandenberge, News 25 anchor.
"Escalade Sports is privileged to partner with USI student teams in this game-design competition," Keller said. "It's amazing how well these young entrepreneurs have adapted the principles of product innovation and brand marketing to the outdoor game category. Clearly they understand what people of their generation desire as an alternative to video games and other less social activities. Today we have witnessed the great potential this next generation of business leaders holds in shaping the future of consumer products."
The contest encouraged innovation and offered an opportunity for experiential learning. Students participated in the process of product development with mentoring by USI faculty and experts at Escalade.
Dr. Chad M. Milewicz, assistant professor of marketing, was the USI liaison for the contest. "We are extremely grateful for the time and resources that Escalade Sports provided to USI students," he said. "The ability for students to interact with experts, ask them questions, and learn from their feedback is truly invaluable. Experiential learning opportunities like this one allow students to unveil their unimagined potential."
Along with Keller, Lederman led the contest for Escalade. He facilitated contact with company engineers, marketing specialists, and other professionals who consulted with the students as they conducted research and developed their product ideas.
A global company, Escalade is the world's largest producer of table tennis tables and one of the largest marketers of premium basketball systems, playground equipment, and archery products. The company also has a division that manufactures and distributes office products.
Fifteen teams with a total of 38 students from academic disciplines throughout the University entered the competition. Twenty-seven students who participated are pursuing the minor in entrepreneurship introduced this fall by the College of Business.
The following teams also presented their game concepts in the final round of competition at Escalade Sports:
- Jared Neible, senior, marketing, Evansville. Neible's game design was named runner-up in the competition.
- Andrew Rice, senior, business administration, Evansville, Lauren Tracey, senior, public relations and advertising, Newburgh, Indiana, and Caleb Schlegel, junior, journalism, Evansville.
- Jonathan Bell, senior, management, Pittsboro, Indiana, Toni O'Bryan, senior, management, Evansville, and Alex Krystosek, senior, business administration, Evansville.
- Dakota Adcox, senior, social science teaching, Boonville, Indiana, Brian Anslinger, senior, business administration, Evansville, and Laura Thompson, senior, marketing, Mount Vernon, Indiana.
- John Schaefer, junior, public relations and advertising, Newburgh, Indiana, Sam Rayes, junior, psychology, Evansville, and Heather O'Cull, junior, visual art K-12 teaching, Westfield, Indiana.