Emmett Dulaney, Anderson University associate professor of marketing in the Falls School of Business, has worked with the I-69 Collegiate Innovation Challenge for eight years. The challenge is a business competition hosted by the Grant County Economic Growth Council that allows business students from various schools to compete in the development of business plans. This year’s I-69 Challenge took place in February at the Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Ind.
Each year, Dulaney helps to prepare AU students chosen to compete in the challenge and acts as a mediator between the judges and participants. “It is a unique competition where four different schools work together, rather than competing against one another,” said Dulaney. He enjoyed the idea of students learning to work with people they had not previously encountered because it prepared them for potential teamwork situations and gave them experiences to set them apart from their peers in the workplace.
AU, Taylor University, Huntington University, and Indiana Wesleyan University each selected five students to compete in the I-69 Challenge. To select students from AU, Dulaney seeks out students who exhibit public speaking talents, creativity, and other qualities.
Working with students from the other schools, the AU students compete in various teams for the duration of the challenge. All the teams are asked to develop a revenue-producing solution to a current economic or social problem – and to do so in less than 24 hours. In addition to judges, investors are present at the competition to offer input. Sometimes, they even provide opportunities for successful competitors to try out their solutions after the I-69 Challenge.
After talking with Tim Eckerle, executive director of the Grant County Economic Growth Council, Dulaney became involved with this unique competition. “He wanted to create a competition where schools could work together,” said Dulaney. “They learn to work with a team they've just met, some of whom have completely different backgrounds, to apply business principles to a social problem, to innovate, to brainstorm, and to pitch to entrepreneurs in a very short period of time. This emulates work situations that happen daily.”
Allison Boyle, junior communication arts major with a concentration in public relations, was one of the five students chosen by Dulaney to compete in this year’s I-69 Challenge. “The challenge provided me with the opportunity to think on my feet and realize that networking is important,” said Boyle. “Through the I-69 Challenge, Dulaney motivated me to research becoming an entrepreneur. I like the idea of owning my own business and watching it grow to fruition.”
Dulaney is proud of the achievements of Boyle’s group, who won first place at the challenge. “I enjoy seeing the students do well, and I love that AU has been represented incredibly well,” said Dulaney. “It gives them a really good touch of what it is like to be in the real world.”
Last year’s I-69 Challenge was successful for senior accounting major Josh Compton. “I learned that the education I got here at the AU Falls School of Business is equal, if not better, than that of other schools,” said Compton. He also said that participating in the challenge helped to prepare him for the job he will be starting after graduation at Ernst and Young, an accounting firm.
To further the educational result of the I-69 Challenge, Dulaney and Eckerle conducted a research study that was published in the Business Journal for Entrepreneurs entitled, “Does Undergraduate Participation in Social Problem Ideation Increase Interest in Remaining within the State after Graduation?” This research examined the genders of those competing and their relation to staying in Indiana after graduation.
With further research and growing participation, Dulaney and Eckerle are working to provide the greatest possible benefits to students involved in the I-69 Challenge. “The challenge seems like a lot of work, but every year, I’m glad I was involved,” said Dulaney. “The Fall School of Business is always looking for opportunities that allow students to participate in undertakings and get experience with concepts they have learned in the classroom.”
— Anna Rayis is a 2014 graduate from Columbus, Ohio, majoring in communication arts. Rayis is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.