Inside Rensselaer
* Rensselaer Student Competes in Wal-Mart’s “Better Living Business Plan Challenge”
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Rensselaer Student Competes in Wal-Mart’s “Better Living Business Plan Challenge”
Ben Robertson, an undergraduate engineering major, put his creativity to the test as one of several students from nine leading universities who traveled to the Wal-Mart home office in Bentonville, Ark., to compete in the “Better Living Business Plan Challenge” on April 18.

The competition was created to provide students around the world with an opportunity to invent sustainable products or business solutions and present them to a panel of Wal-Mart executives, government officials, suppliers, and environmental organizations. In addition to gaining an audience with some of the top business and sustainability leaders in the U.S., the winning school will receive $20,000.

“Wal-Mart is committed to fostering innovation at all levels — in our stores and supply chain, in our communities, and throughout the retail industry,” said Jim Stanway, senior director of Wal-Mart’s Global Supplier Initiatives-Energy. “We created this challenge to give students a forum to showcase their best ideas and to help us learn from some of the brightest minds in the world.”

Wal-Mart invited students from the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, University of Michigan, Stanford University, Stillman University, Imperial College (London), Dartmouth University, Babson College, and Rensselaer to submit business plans on topics ranging from clean air, water and soil, to energy efficient and healthy products.

“In today’s 21st century lifestyle, refrigeration is a necessity that is used everywhere. The approach that I have chosen will effectively dispose of the heat that is created in the refrigeration process.”

More than 20 students from Rensselaer participated in an on-campus competition that was sponsored by the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship at the Lally School of Management & Technology. Robertson was selected to represent Rensselaer after winning a preliminary competition in March. A native of Lawrence, Kan., he has developed a prototype for improved commercial refrigeration through the use of geothermal pumps.

“In today’s 21st century lifestyle, refrigeration is a necessity that is used everywhere,” said Robertson. “The approach that I have chosen will effectively
dispose of the heat that is created in the refrigeration process. The benefit of adopting this technology will lead to better performance, lower operating costs, and less maintenance with a longer lifespan.”

During the “Better Living Business Plan Competition,” student teams presented their business plans to a panel of judges made up of executives from Wal-Mart and other leading companies and non-government organizations. Two teams moved on to the final round where Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott and other Wal-Mart executives would select the winning proposal and present the students with a check for $20,000; the runner-up will receive $10,000.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 8, May 2, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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