Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
May 07, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Tennessee Tech announces winners in its annual “Eagle Works Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition”

Taking first place were five business students for "Sunshine Empire," a board game focused on the agriculture sector.

Five Tennessee Tech University students from the College of Business took home a $10,000 scholarship prize and the $500 “crowd favorite” award for winning the annual “Eagle Works Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition.

Students Julia Duncan, Porter Davison, Jacy Butler, Addison Dorris, and Riley Bishop won first place for “Sunshine Empire,” a board game that seeks to make agriculture engaging and accessible to a new generation of Tennesseans.

“Children are quite frankly unaware of what goes into farming or agriculture and financial literacy courses are only optional until the high school level of education,” added Davidson.

Dorris said the game will introduce “communication, critical thinking skills and strategic decision making to children all across America,” while Bishop added that the game emphasizes teamwork.

The event is held annually and is organized by Tennessee Tech’s Center for Rural Innovation.

Others being recognized were:

  • Stephen Holmes, a mechanical engineering major from Rutherford County, who captured second place and a $5,000 scholarship for an eponymous device that aims to offer a solution to employee back pain, something he personally experienced while working at a local grocery store.
  • Vivekanand Naikwadi, an international mechanical engineering Ph.D. student, who captured third place and a $2,500 scholarship for the “PregaBelt.” According to Naikwadi, an estimated 3,000 pregnancies are lost due to car crashes each year. His device offers a harness-like replacement for the traditional seatbelt which he hopes will protect expectant parents’ safety in vehicles.
  • Leah Brandon, an interdisciplinary studies major from Maury County, received the “Rural Reimagined Award” and a $1,500 scholarship prize for “Farmer’s Friend,” a subscription service that aims to connect people with local farmers and fresh food. The award is given each year to the business concept with the greatest potential to impact Tennessee’s rural communities.
  • Emily Armstrong, a marketing and business and information technology data analytics major from Putnam County, received the “Entrepreneurial Spirit Award” with a $500 scholarship for the “S n’ S,” a transportable shelf made from antimicrobial plastic and nano-suction technology that users can attach to bathroom walls as a reusable beverage holder.

The Clouse-Elrod Foundation, a sponsoring partner for Eagle Works, presented three awards, each for $600. Sunshine Empire won the “Virgie Elrod Clouse Creativity Award,” while Adam Butler, an electrical engineering major from Lincoln County, won the Robert O. Clouse Innovation award for “Eclipse Hydroponics,” which seeks to use the power of artificial intelligence to simplify year-round plant growth.

Tennessee Tech business students Gabriel Vasconcelos, Alexis Galves, Julian Fuss, and Nikolas Schlosser received the “Dr. Wil Clouse Maverick Award” for their app-based creation, “OneCoupon.” The concept provides a one-stop shop for coupons and features an influencer-based marketing strategy.

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!