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2018 News Pitch Contest Winners
April 30, 2018 : PORTS Plastics wins 2018 Cross-Disciplinary Enterprise Concept Pitch Competition


And the results are in! PORTS Plastics won the competition!


That is, the 2018 Cross-Disciplinary Enterprise Concept Pitch Competition, sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Ohio University's Voinovich School's PORTSfuture program, TechGROWTH Ohio, and Social Enterprise Ecosystem program. The competition was held on April 20, 2018 at Shawnee State University.


What started as a nerve-wracking event, ended on a positive note as both teams representing Ohio University Chillicothe placed first and second. Pitches lasted 10 minutes with an additional five-minute Q&A from the panel of judges.


The pitches focused on enterprise and economic opportunities at the US DOE former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS), which is currently being decommissioned.


The winner of the competition was the Chillicothe campus’s PORTS Plastics team, which consisted of Brandi Downs, Samuel Steinhoff, and Ryan Sutton. The team’s presentation focused on the recommendation of repurposing decommissioned areas to develop a recycling center to either support current recycling programs/agencies or create a new facility to clean, sort, grind, and pelletize plastics. The goal of the proposal was to help increase recycling as currently 91% of the world’s plastics are not recycled and over 8 million metric tons are added to the ocean every year.


The campus’s Buckeye Solar team, consisting of Karlie Fields, Jansen Grim, Kyle Hurles, and Andrew Kiger, won second place. Their presentation proposed to repurpose a landing strip to expand solar energy production to reduce the carbon footprint. Not only is that a good alternative due to limited resources, but it is also financially and economically efficient as the plan could potentially provide electric for 850 homes in Piketon, Ohio.


Brandi Downs and Karlie Fields, graduating seniors in the Bachelor of Science in Applied Management program, share their thoughts about the pitch competition and what the experience means for their future.


Fields shares, “I had a really good experience. I’ve done presentations in class before, but nothing like this. It think it gives us a real world experience with actually pitching an idea to somebody else besides a professor in class.”


“I think it was a little bit different than actually presenting to a class and a teacher watching you,” remarks Downs. “There wasn’t just one judge; there were five judges, plus the people that have helped along the way. So, I feel like there was more pressure like it would be in a real-life situation, where you’re actually trying to get a job or make a presentation for work.”


All students in this year’s competition were enrolled in SAM 4700, Managing Strategically in the Future. The class prepares students not only for the competition, but it also prepares them for their future careers. The class assesses the vision and mission of business, the different levels of business strategies, competitive advantage, internal/external analysis of business, the impact of human resources and other intangible assets of an organization, how to examine business through different lenses, and a little about corporate governance.


Tanya Hire, Assistant Professor of Applied Management, is passionate about this project and the many educational and personal benefits students could gain from participating in the competition.


Hire shares, “This is a very practical exercise for business students. The entrepreneurial mindset is still something that, even if you are already an established business, you still want to have that type of mindset in employees in order to stay on top of the game so that you can come up with new ideas or figure out how to do things differently. And not even just new ideas, but the creativity to find new ways to cut costs or to do business differently.”  


“I am proud of my students,” continues Hire. “They have all worked very hard and the skills they acquire during this process is excellent preparation for their careers. It helps to give them a better understanding of the components of a business entity. And no matter how long an entity has been established, innovation is a critical component to organizational success, and this process encourages the students to take an innovative approach and utilize their critical thinking skills.”


Congratulations, students, and best wishes for the future!