MCOB Student’s Team Wins the AAE Innovation Showdown

MCOB Student’s Team Wins the AAE Innovation Showdown


Last month Dr. Hunsader emailed me, Micah Calhoun, about an opportunity to participate in the AAE Innovation Showdown, which is a competition between students from three universities on four teams, sponsored by Airbus Americas. I accepted the challenge to participate.  Two of the four teams were from the University of South Alabama, one was from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, and the other team was from Babson College in Massachusetts.  Teams were given the task of coming up with the best ideas for aircraft of the future.  While doing research we had to keep in mind not only the feasibility of our idea, but also how this idea would be profitable for Airbus and not just the airlines that purchase the planes from Airbus.  

The Showdown lasted seven weeks.  The first stages of the competition were mainly brainstorming.  All of the teams collaborated to come up with "idea fragments" that could be molded into larger ideas.  These fragments were then divided among the teams by The Center for Innovation Excellence and Leadership (IXL).  Each team molded its idea into a business concept and then ultimately pitched the concept as a business case.  After each stage, the areas of research became more focused and increased in intensity.  While I cannot go into detail on the ideas we actually pitched as our business case, I can let you know that our final idea was well received with interest and enthusiasm by the airline stakeholders.

Our team earned first place and the other South Alabama team placed second (Go JAGS!).  The two key takeaways I learned from this experience are:

(1)   When doing research it is easy to get sidetracked and add information that is not relevant or "the best information possible."  Always have someone else review your work to provide insight on information that seems irrelevant or fuzzy.

(2)   The Center for Innovation Excellence and Leadership and Airbus selected the ideas for each team from a larger pool of ideas to focus the research and effort of each team.  Being able to enthusiastically work with topics that were not our favorites helped set our team apart.

The Innovation Showdown was a great experience and I hope that South Alabama will continue to compete in events like this.  (The photo left to right shows Lynne Chronister, VP, Research & Economic Development at USA with the winning team: Dan Smithson, an electrical engineering major from Wetumpka, Ala.; Brandi DePineuil, a mechanical engineering major from Ocean Springs, Miss.; Micah Calhoun, an economics and finance major from Mobile; and Andrew Tindell, a mechanical engineering major from Pensacola, Fla.)