Creating a business plan in 30 days -- that was the challenge facing 34 of the state's most talented teenagers when they arrived at Tennessee Tech University last month.
This week they wrapped up their work at TTU's first President's School for Information Technology Leadership by presenting their final plans. The school prepares these future leaders to form technology-based companies that could provide jobs and stability for Tennessee's economy.
"We've identified students whose interests in information technology and business make them eligible to learn how to operate a business effectively," said President's School director Curtis Armstrong. "It's our vision that some groups will eventually turn the plan created here into a viable, profitable business."
The school, fully funded with private donations, followed the Tennessee Governor's School model, with groups of scholars working with local business leaders as mentors. Armstrong, as well as other TTU faculty members, also taught courses.
"They've taught me a lot," said mentor Ellen Wilson, personnel manager at Averitt Express. "The students asked great questions and showed talent and insight."
Projects included developing a viable product or service, identifying the target market, designing a marketing plan, developing the needed technology to support the business, and determining the budget and needed capital.
Participants also chose several electives to fit their interests, including entrepreneurship, software applications, IT security and recovery, law and conflict resolution.
"We have been looking forward to hosting this program and are committed to providing this opportunity to students," said TTU President Bob Bell. "There's no more appropriate home than our campus for a program that emphasizes technology and business."
Scholars were nominated by their high school guidance counselors and teachers. Students must be more than intelligent; all applicants are expected to be in the top 10 percent of their classes. Those chosen are mature, curious, and inquisitive, with the ability to analyze and learn rapidly. A sense of humor is even part of the criteria.
The President's School provided full scholarships to cover tuition, housing, meals and activities for the participants. For more information about next year's school activities and application process, call 372-3175 or visit www.tntech.edu/govschool.