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May 15, 2023 | Tom Ballard

VOL COURT | In-home security system for older people living alone

The first place winner of Vol Court was Josie Rich, a junior from Nashville majoring in computer science in the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Josie Rich is a junior from Nashville majoring in computer science in the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK).

Saying “I love to learn and to talk to people about the life lessons that took them years to figure out, but I get to learn in a simple conversation,” she attended the five one-hour sessions of the Spring 2023 “Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition.” It was an opportunity to learn and also possibly develop an idea Rich could use for her senior design project.

The five sessions with topics including intellectual property law and optimization of Google search results provided insightful and helpful information for the Shark Tank enthusiast.

“I had heard about ‘Vol Court,’ but did not know what to expect,” she said of the program that included four topic-specific sessions ahead of the pitch competition. “I reviewed past winners to size up the potential competition.”

Rich (pictured here) won the top prize of $1,500, beating 11 other students who pitched a variety of ideas (see article here).

In a recent interview, she explained that she had discussed some ideas with a friend and came up with the concept for an in-home security system that provides “peace of mind” for families by ensuring their loved one is safe and healthy when living alone at home. The system would use artificial intelligence to detect when someone has fallen.

“The focus is on using machine learning, a sector of artificial intelligence (AI), to disrupt the prehistoric medical alert device market,” Rich says. That makes sense, considering her major.

After winning “Vol Court,” she entered the “Graves Business Plan Competition,” the second of three pitch events organized by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UTK’s Haslam College of Business.

What comes in a year or so when Rich graduates?

She says it is probably working for a company where she will be involved in utilizing machine learning and AI to help create a better world.

That said, Rich adds, “I do like the idea of building something to call my own.”

And that’s the purpose of “Vol Court” . . . to get college students introduced to entrepreneurship.

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