Working in pairs of two, 10 Blackman High School students tackled an assignment from Dr. William McDowell, professor and holder of the Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU.
McDowell gave the students, part of a group of nearly 70 Blackman Collegiate Academy sophomores on campus Thursday, Feb. 2, a limited time to “come up with an amazing new product.”
The students completed their task, and one pair — Landon Fowler and Sarah Oppmann — stood out with their design of a hallway crossing guard that potentially could be implemented at their school.
The MTSU-Blackman partnership is one of several arranged each semester during the academic year. It allows freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors opportunities to spend time on the college campus, meeting MTSU students, faculty and administrators and learning about the university’s 140-plus programs.
Fowler, 16, said it was “really interesting to learn how entrepreneurship works … to make designs and make it happen.”
Oppmann, 15, said she found it “nice to learn about all the different jobs. I never had been interested (in entrepreneurship), but now I am.”
McDowell said the Blackman students did a great job of developing an idea, creating a rapid prototype and presenting their project to the others in the session. He added that it was exciting to see their enthusiasm and innovation at work.
“The time constraint sort of stressed them out, but they did come up with clever ideas,” Blackman geometry teacher Ginna Hamby said of the entrepreneurship session.
Other business classes included the insurance profession with Dave Wood and a web development demonstration with Dr. Charles Apigian.
The Blackman students gained insight into all of MTSU’s colleges within the university. They honed in on programs and potential careers in the fields of geosciences with professors Melissa Lobegeier and Henrique Momm, hands-on science with the Department of Engineering Technology’s Dr. Walter Boles and Dr. Saeed Foroudastan, Dr. Ron Henderson of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and more.
“We have good luck with the Blackman kids. They’re focused,” said Dr. Heather Brown, director of the School of Concrete and Construction Management.
While on campus, among the nearly 20 activities during their four hours, the Blackman students:
- Heard about a typical day in the life of a college student from the MTSU Student Ambassadors.
- Learned about paths to success in communications, news and marketing from Jimmy Hart, director of the Office of News and Media Relations, and Kara Hooper, director of the Office of Creative and Visual Services.
- Took a Department of Recording Industry tour with professors Stacy Merida and John Merchant and visited the Center for Innovation in Media with Journalist-in-Residence Whitney Matheson.
- Discovered the Model U.N. at MTSU, a realistic simulation of the actual United Nations, with Dr. Vanessa Lefler in the Department of Political Science.
- Learned about research opportunities for biology majors with Dr. Lynn Boyd, the department chair.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)