It was a tense afternoon of pitching innovative ideas to a panel of academic and industry experts at Florida Polytechnic University as the third annual Great Eight competition took place at the Innovation, Science, and Technology Building. The event mimics the popular television show “Shark Tank” where students present their concepts before a panel of judges, with the winner advancing to the prestigious statewide Governor’s Cup later this spring.
For each Great Eight project, students were given six minutes to present, followed by a four-minute question-and-answer session by the judges. At the conclusion, the judges went over all of the projects and made a decision on the top three.
The four judges evaluating the projects were University President Randy K. Avent and Executive Vice President and Provost Terry Parker. They were joined by David Robinson, president of DSM Technology Consultants, and Michael Lawley, member of the Florida Poly Foundation Board of Directors.
After much deliberation, the winner was SynapCare, a consumer device that uses electroencephalogram (EEG) signals to read a user’s mental state to help provide mental health solutions. The project was presented by Michael Jernigan, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Auburndale, Florida, and Chelsea Reeves, a junior majoring in electrical engineering from Jacksonville, Florida.
“We were motivated to win and we’re very passionate about what we do, but this is surprising and we are very thankful,” said Reeves. “I know that we have a wonderful device, but every team today presented a valuable idea that could become something great.”
A close second was Instalist, a device that helps authenticate jewelry and list it online using machine vision and other sensing technology. It was presented by John Sarnecky, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from Naples, Florida, and by Andre Ripley, a senior majoring in computer engineering from Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida.
Third place went to OpenSpot, an app that connects current drivers who are occupying parking spots to drivers seeking parking spots through a mini-bid system. It was presented by Jestin Cherian, a senior majoring in computer science from Sunrise, Florida.
Justin Heacock, Florida Poly’s entrepreneurship coordinator, said the goal of the Great Eight is to not only give students a platform to develop their entrepreneurial ideas, but to show them there are people out there such as faculty, staff, and industry leaders who are willing to help them along the way.
“We want to show them what that pathway can be for this entrepreneurial future they might dream of,” said Heacock. “Regardless of whether they get it now or in 10 years, it’s just to show them it’s possible, and there are ways to do it.”
The Governor’s Cup takes place each year and features teams from universities across Florida. Last year, the Florida Poly team won third place and $1,500. Since 2016, Florida Poly students have won more than $30,000 for their projects at statewide competitions.
2019 Great Eight Participants
Combat Innovation– A “smart” tourniquet designed to identify when a soldier has been shot to apply pressure immediately.
- Bruce Hicks, electrical engineering, sophomore, Eustis, Florida
- Josh Haddix, computer science, junior, Holiday, Florida
- Bryce Palmer computer science, freshman, Lakeland, Florida
SynapCare –A consumer device that uses EEG signals to read a user’s mental state to help provide mental health solutions.
- Michael Jernigan, electrical engineering, senior, Auburndale, Florida
- Chelsea Reeves, electrical engineering, junior, Jacksonville, Florida
InstaList: A device that helps authenticate jewelry and list it online using machine vision and other sensing technology.
- John Sarnecky, mechanical engineering, senior, Naples, Florida
- Andre Ripley, computer engineering, senior, Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida
OpenSpot: An app that connects current drivers who are occupying parking spots to drivers seeking parking spots through a mini-bid system.
- Jestin Cherian, computer science, senior, Sunrise, Florida
Crace Tech: New “smart” connected device for consumer entertainment that enhances brand exposure for alcohol companies.
- Chris Mattice, mechanical engineering, sophomore, Vero Beach, Florida
Textala: A software where students can rent a custom portion of a school textbook for a low price.
- Brandon Rubio, computer engineering, sophomore, Haines City, Florida
OlympiAId: A real-time presentation feedback platform that allows instructors to increase student outcomes including using proprietary artificial intelligence technology.
- Austin Lubetkin, computer science, senior, Boca Raton, Florida
Stylized AI: A smart mirror that gives personalized clothing recommendations for individuals using artificial and augmented reality.
- Djuan Gayle, computer engineering, junior, Orlando, Florida
- Nicolee Brown, computer science, junior, Westin, Florida
- Jenario Johnson, electrical engineering, senior, Tampa, Florida
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