Published: Fri Jul 2, 2010Forget Silicon Valley or the research laboratories of Bangalore. Information technology's next big idea may just come out of Cookeville.
During the fifth and final week of their work, 36 Tennessee high school juniors and seniors attending the Governor's School for Information Technology Leadership presented business plans detailing how they'll solve business challenges using information technology and business leadership skills.
"I think ours is the next big innovative leap because we're making it mobile," said Ben Burkeen of Shelby County and a student at Collierville High School.
Had a venture capitalist been on campus Friday to listen as Burkeen and his team members explained their plans for software services company Advanced Automations LLC, he or she just might have whipped out a checkbook and made an investment on the spot.
The six-member team's idea is to create a company that makes it easy for consumers to automate various activities in their homes via the Internet by using a smartphone or laptop. For example, you're waiting at the Nashville airport for your flight and aren't quite sure whether you turned off the coffeemaker or turned on the outside security light at home. A quick check from the application on your smartphone gives you not only the answer, but the ability to turn off the coffeemaker and turn on the light – remotely while on the go.
Equally impressive as the ideas are the battery of questions students face from other students during the final presentations. No business plan flaw goes uninvestigated with this group.
"We're set apart from our competitors because you can control your home from anywhere and our application is much more user friendly," said Lydia Adams, Advanced Automation's chief executive officer and a student at Bearden High School in Knox County, as she sought to win over a skeptic asking detailed questions.
The Governor's School for IT Leadership, now in its ninth year, engaged 18 girls and 18 boys in a five-week, intensive exercise to find technology solutions to real-world business problems. The on-campus residence program began during the Memorial Day weekend and concludes this week with the formal presentations. The program provides gifted and talented high school students the opportunity to develop their knowledge of information technology and business leadership.
The students receive college credit for their work. Go here for more information about the school, including information about how to apply for next year's school.