Thursday, June 10, 2010

AB Tech takes second place in national Juicy Ideas Collegiate Competition with software application for outdoors enthusiasts

A software application developed by a student team from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College won second place in the 2010 Juicy Ideas Collegiate Competition, a national contest challenging students to create a software application that uses publicly available data to benefit their community. The team’s application provides interactive information on activities available in the region for outdoor enthusiasts (

Stanford University narrowly defeated AB Tech with its “Truth or Dare” entertainment application ( that allows users to discover and research leisure activities, from places to take a date, to the best cookie recipes for baking, to movies available from the closest video store. Students from MIT came in third.

Juicy Ideas, designed to engage students in entrepreneurship and encourage innovation and creativity, was organized by AdvantageWest, the economic development group serving Western North Carolina, with support from Google and in partnership with DigitalChalk, developers of an online software platform for training and continuing education.

"All six of the finalist teams approached the problem from different perspectives and technologies. We had uses of data that involved everything from websites to multi-platform mobile applications,” said Troy Tolle, co-founder and chief technology officer with DigitalChalk, based in Asheville. “We expected great uses of technology and these students delivered.”

“These students are engaged in the global community and their approach is very entrepreneurial,” said Pam Lewis, senior vice president for entrepreneurial development at AdvantageWest. "Technology-related enterprises are a core focus of the AdvantageWest entrepreneur program and we are excited about the future of this generation of entrepreneurs."

This is the second year for Juicy Ideas. The original competition focused on the environmental and entrepreneurial challenge of creating value from a throwaway item. This year, the technology focus on software and data aligned well with the core concentrations of DigitalChalk and Google, said Matt Dunne, community affairs manager at Google. "We knew we were significantly raising the bar by piloting a different approach this year. Students not only had to show their creative spirit, but needed the computer programming know-how as well.”

AB Tech’s team members were: Mark Locklear, 37, of Maxton, N.C., captain; Steve Greenhoe, 52, of Mills River; Kaitlyn Lemmons, 16, of Asheville; Allen Smith, 26, of Black Mountain; and Brant Wellons, 30, of Matthews, N.C. All are technology majors with the exception of Locklear, who is enrolled as a continuing education student.

Judges for the competition were: Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and president of the UNC University System, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Eric Jackson, of Lab Escape, a Bostom-based data analysis and visualization company; Jenny Manner, chair of the Asheville technology organization, Meet the Geeks; Mary Radomile, educational programs for Google, in Mountain View, Calif.; Debesh Senapati, with the global investment firm Bain Capital; and Chris Sheehan, with the Boston investment firm CommonAngels.

For more information and Juicy Ideas contest details, visit or contact Lewis at or (828) 687-7234.

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