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Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
May 01, 2023 | Tom Ballard

TTU students awarded cash during the 10th edition of the “Eagle Works” competition

A first-year engineering student from Sparta captured a $10,000 scholarship for Crate Buddy, a device that securely fastens a milk crate to the back of a bicycle and allows it to be used as storage.

Jake Officer, a freshman at Tennessee Tech University (TTU) who is majoring in manufacturing engineering technology, took home top honors and a $10,000 scholarship prize during the latest edition of the “Eagle Works” competition. It was the 10th annual competition.

The Sparta resident pitched Crate Buddy, a device that securely fastens a milk crate to the back of a bicycle and allows it to be used as storage. Officer has already developed a prototype for the product and applied for a patent.

“The bicycle is a great alternative to gas-powered vehicles,” he explained. “I ride a bicycle every day to and from class. But there’s one critical problem with bicycles: storage capacity.”

Officer says the idea for the Crate Buddy came from his own personal struggles with finding adequate storage on his bike and was formed when he came across a pile of milk crates in his grandmother’s barn.

Second place and a $5,000 scholarship went to Bailey Dozier, a senior marketing major from Nashville. A musician who performs in local venues outside of the classroom, he presented a concept called Beam which she described as “the first subscription-based app that connects artists to their live local music venues.”

For a low monthly fee, up-and-coming performers could create an account, upload pictures and samples of their music and send requests to venues. Likewise, venues could post information about their live music needs and browse for local talent to diversify their lineups.

Third place and a $2,500 scholarship went to Bailee Kauffman, a senior marketing major from Murfreesboro with a proposal to combat drink spiking called SafeSTICK. Noting that someone is sexually assaulted by the use of a date rape drug every 68 seconds, SafeSTICK is a sticker that bars and restaurants could place over customers’ beverages to prevent tampering.

The concept is deeply personal for Kauffman, who shared in her presentation that she experienced drink spiking firsthand.

In addition to the first, second, and third place winners, TTU senior accounting major and Cookeville native Mattea Trusty took home the “Rural Reimagined Award” and a $1,500 scholarship prize. The award is given to the business idea with the greatest potential to impact Tennessee’s rural communities.

Trusty, who uses a wheelchair, pitched Venue 931 as a modern, accessible facility in Cookeville with customizable indoor event spaces with a variety of themes and party packages that can be rented to suit differing budgets and requirements. She came up with the idea when she could not attend a birthday party for a friend because the venue was not wheelchair accessible.

Other winners included Charissa Smith, a senior computer science major from Murfreesboro, for the best trade show booth. Smith’s idea was titled The Pot and is an app to divide costs for group purchases. She describes it as a solution to “the never-ending issue of getting the short end of the stick in any group trip.”

The Clouse-Elrod Foundation, a sponsoring partner for Eagle Works, also presented awards in three categories. Dozier won the “Virgie Elrod Clouse Creativity Award” for Beam, while Kauffman won the “Robert O. Clouse Innovation Award” for SafeSTICK. Ethan Johnson, a senior horticulture major from Mount Juliet, took home the “Dr. Wil Clouse Maverick Award” for an indoor gardening concept titled Johnson Farms. His product is made from recycled plastic boards and offers what Johnson describes as “a convenient and sustainable method to grow food in your own home.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Those in the photo are (left to right) 2nd place winner Bailey Dozier, 1st place winner Jake Officer, 3rd place winner Bailee Kauffman, and Eagle Works Manager Andrea Kruszka. Photo Credit: Emily Armstrong.

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