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Student elevator pitch video podcasts on YouTube:

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Students Top Elevator Pitch Contest at ERC Industry Academia Day

The second annual Industry-Academia Day for the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) was held in Boston on Feb. 8. Researchers and graduate students from all three core partner institutions — Rensselaer, Boston University (BU), and the University of New Mexico — gathered to discuss their research and advances in smart lighting systems, sources, sensors, and controls. Rensselaer students captured the top three spots in the Student Elevator Pitch Competition.

In this annual competition, students are asked to discuss their research in a concise manner. The motto was “Presentations for Industry, Judged by Industry” and the judges were members of the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB). The ERC’s Innovation Partners — the Center for Economic Growth in Albany, STC.UNM in Albuquerque, and Flybridge Capital Partners in Boston — were instrumental in coaching the students to develop successful elevator pitches. BU’s Office of Technology Commercialization provided $1,000 in funds for prizes.

Students were asked to answer three questions — what real-life problem their research is addressing, how they solve it in a unique way, and what impact it will have for society and in achieving the Smart Lighting ERC mission. They had 90 seconds to accomplish this and could use a single Power Point slide to express the ideas visually.

A preliminary competition was held the evening before the public event, where the Student Leadership Council picked nine finalists out of the 25 students participating.

Rensselaer’s Christoph Stark (“Green GalnN nano and micro LEDs”), Peng Tao (“High Refractive Index Encapsulant Materials for Light Emitting Diode”), and Jiaxiang Zhang (“Systems Modeling and Control of Circadian Rhythm”) were selected as the three winners of the competition. They were awarded $300 each. Tao was chosen to move on to an inter-ERC elevator pitch competition at the annual National Science Foundation meeting of the ERCs in December.

Presentations from invited speakers, a poster session, and BU laboratory tours were also part of the agenda. A retreat with ERC faculty and students engaged in strategic planning followed the public day. The event was attended by representatives from 30 industrial organizations, including member companies. Together, about 130 people filled to capacity the 9th floor venue of BU’s Photonics Center.

Details can be viewed on the event website at http://smartlighting.rpi.edu/pastevents.html.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 4, March 4, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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