PULLMAN, Wash. – April 2018 – On Friday, WSU’s top student venture teams displayed their innovative products and services at the 16th Annual Business Plan Competition hosted by the Carson College of Business. TEST Robotics, an interdisciplinary Boeing Scholars team from Washington State University Everett won the grand prize of $15,000.
“When our name was called for the grand prize, it was a complete thrill,” said Samantha Chapman, a senior strategic communication major. “Two of us instantly burst into tears, and it felt like we were floating to the front of the room. We worked tremendously hard on this project, and that moment made it all worth it to us.”
The TEST Robotics team includes Chapman, Timothy Kaiser, a senior electrical engineering student, Troy Potensky, a senior mechanical engineering student, and Emily Ternes, a junior hospitality business management student.
The team’s product is a tool-cleaning robot that automates the process of cleaning composite tools used in aerospace manufacturing. When composite tools are used, they need to be cleaned and coated before they can be used again. The team’s robot deals with the coating of the tools. “Instead of a human doing this process, it allows for the human to set the robot on a tool and spend their time doing something less tedious,” Chapman said.
The team is one of several groups of Boeing Scholars at WSU Everett. Those groups are granted the opportunity to work directly with Boeing mentors who advise students and provide them with hands-on, industry experience. Boeing presented TEST Robotics with the challenge of reducing the time it takes to clean composite tools.
The interdisciplinary nature of the team is a hallmark of the WSU Everett campus, uniting students from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and the Carson College of Business.
“Our team has learned that it is really helpful to have students from different majors working together,” Chapman said. “Because this competition involved both making a product and then creating a business plan for it, it was perfect to have engineers, a business major and a communication major all working together. We took advantage of each other’s strengths and learned a lot about each other’s fields of study.”
The team was able to travel to Pullman to participate in the competition thanks to a generous grant provided by Union Bank and Robert Williams.
The Business Plan Competition gives students the opportunity build skills in a real-world setting, network with industry professionals and prepare to succeed in a global business arena.