A Betabox Case Study:
University Buildathon with Texas Instruments
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Texas Instruments approached Betabox in the fall of 2014, eager to partner with us to bring their products and programs into higher education environments. We immediately began planning a comprehensive Betabox Buildathon: A design + engineering competition that would engage students with Texas Instrument microcontrollers and promote Texas Instruments internship programs.
With the strong electrical and mechanical engineering programs at NC State University, that became the obvious choice for the location of the university Buildathon competition. Betabox has a strong relationship with the Entrepreneurship Initiative at NC State, as well as several key professors in the Engineering department and the First Year College. With these connections, we scheduled the date for the Buildathon and began to promote the event.
We planned the Buildathon in conjunction with several professors. More than 250 students signed up for the two-day competition, and began building prototypes for the final pitch presentation.
Betabox is bringing experiential learning to college campuses through their program. They are giving students a multi-disciplinary intersection point where they can study product development, design, and the tools associated with those skills. The kicker is students can actually build out their ideas and turn them into something physical which can inspire them in new directions and give them confidence going into their projects and careers.Mark Easley Jr, Marketing Director at TI
The Betabox opened early on a Thursday morning, and had a steady stream of students visit to begin prototyping. The first student to visit the Betabox was a young grad student, who was interested in 3D printing a model of a biological molecule. With the help of the Betabox Facilitators, she walked away with a fully formed model.
By the end of the day, she was delighted to realize that she’d spent the entire day learning, prototyping, and 3D printing!
Students formed teams and went on to create several great prototypes, including a beer tap dispenser, a stove top controlled by a smart phone, and an automated dog treat dispenser. In addition to these functional designs, there were also some really fun experiments, including a 3D printed model of the NC State Wolfpack symbol, and a hoverboard concept.
Each one of these prototypes utilized a Texas Instruments component, which were given to students when they signed up. The engineering students were elated to get their hands on this new technology, and couldn’t wait to start prototyping.
The teams of engineering students and creative designers waited anxiously to hear which five prototypes were selected to present their ideas in front of judges from Texas Instruments, and to meet with local investors after the pitch presentation.
Five teams presented their ideas at the Texas Instruments Betabox Buildathon pitch competition. Local engineers, designers, and investors joined the presentation and took time to network and speak with the inventors after the presentations. While the judges deliberated, the teams gave demos of their prototypes and the audience was able to try them out.
After the judges had made their decisions, they announced the winning project, and the winning team was treated to lunch with a local investor. All of the students who attended the presentation spoke with the Texas Instruments representative and exchanged information about becoming interns at Texas Instruments in the following semester.
Overall, the event gave students an amazing opportunity to showcase their talent, skill, and prototypes to Texas Instruments. Texas Instruments put their product in the hands of hundreds of NC State engineers, and delivered a unique design+engineering experience to emerging talent at NC State.