Category Archives: Students

Students Help Develop App for ‘Dash’ Robotic Shopping Cart

Students working at the McMillon Innovation Studio at the Walton College have developed a prototype app for “Dash,” the robot platform designed by Five Elements Robotics. The app can build a shopping list, search for products, scan items and provide mobile checkout. Continue reading Students Help Develop App for ‘Dash’ Robotic Shopping Cart

Banner Year for Startup Teams in Regional, National Competitions

The medical device company Lapovations of the University of Arkansas received first place and best elevator pitch at the University of Oregon New Venture Championship competition. It was the team’s sixth overall victory in startup contests this year, with five of the wins coming in highly competitive national competitions. This victory establishes Lapovations as the most successful startup competition team in U of A history and brought their cash and investment winnings to just over $300,000.

Lapovations is led by graduate students in the College of Engineering and the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The team also took first place and best elevator pitch at the statewide Delta Plastics Arkansas Governor’s Cup, where University of Arkansas teams swept the graduate division awards and won first and second-place awards in the undergraduate agriculture track.

Lapovations: (l-r) Flavia Araujo, Michael Dunavant, and Jared Greer [Photo Courtesy Rice University]
Lapovations: (l-r) Flavia Araujo, Michael Dunavant, and Jared Greer [Photo Courtesy Rice University]
Lapovations is developing a platform of products that improve minimally invasive surgery. The company’s CEO, Jared Greer, is a master’s student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Flavia Araujo, a full-time M.B.A. student, and Michael Dunavant, an executive M.B.A. student, also competed as part of the team. The three students met in the graduate-level New Venture Development course taught by Carol Reeves, associate vice chancellor for entrepreneurship, whose teams have won more national business competitions since 2009 than those from any other university in America.

More Than a Class

“What people should understand about Dr. Reeves’ class is that it is not just an academic exercise,” said Jared Greer, CEO of Lapovations. “For teams like ours who have a viable business idea or commercial technology, it’s more like an accelerator program. In addition to excellent classroom instruction, we received in-depth mentoring from a network of experts, access to angel and venture capital investors, seed funding for customer validation from the Delta I-Fund, and around-the-clock coaching from our advisers during competition season. It was a lot of work but also the best possible preparation for starting and growing a new business.”

Lapovations also took second place in the prestigious Rice University Business Plan Competition and first in the Baylor University New Venture Competition, SXSW Pitch Texas, Stu Clark Investment Competition at the University of Manitoba, and the Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge at the University of Louisville. They took second place at the Ivey Business Plan Competition at Western University in Canada.

“Bringing new technologies to the life science market is more challenging than many people imagine,” said Reeves. “Lapovations’ stunning success in national startup competitions bodes well for the company’s future and each of the team members’ individual futures, because it is a direct result of their hard work, diligence, and willingness to learn from medical industry experts and potential customers.”

An Arkansas Tradition

Arkansas’ flagship business plan competition, the Delta Plastics Arkansas Governor’s Cup, attracts undergraduate and graduate teams from many of the state’s public and private institutions of higher learning. Lapovations was joined by U of A New Venture Development Teams UChooze Lunchbox and Ozark Microheater Systems, who won second and third place, respectively, in the graduate division. OMS also won the graduate division innovation award, which carried a cash prize of $5,000.

Two undergraduate teams from the University of Arkansas, Connor Innovation Roveround and SCAN Ag, won first and second place, respectively, in the agriculture track.

Sponsored in 2018 by Delta Plastics with a cash prize pool of $154,000, the Arkansas Governor’s Cup has since 2001 been organized by Arkansas Capital, through its 501(c)(3) Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF).

Delta Plastics Arkansas Governor’s Cup

Overall Graduate Winners

Lapovations wins 2018 Governor's Cup.
Lapovations wins 2018 Governor’s Cup.

1st Place: $25,000
Lapovations LLC
University of Arkansas
Team: Jared Greer, Michael Dunavant, Flavia Araujo
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

2nd Place: $15,000
Uchooze Lunchbox LLC
University of Arkansas
Team: William Rockefeller, Leslie Godwin, Daniel Maldonado, Rebecca Holgate, Tanya Welihindha
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

3rd Place: $10,000
Ozark Microheater Systems
University of Arkansas
Team: Benjamin McGuire, Joel Harris, Nicholas Holt, Jordan Wilcox
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

Innovation Division

Graduate: $5,000
Ozark Microheater Systems
University of Arkansas
Team: Benjamin McGuire, Joel Harris, Nicholas Holt, Jordan Wilcox
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

Agriculture Division 

Connor Innovation Roveround take first place in agriculture division.
Connor Innovation Roveround take first place in agriculture division.

1st Place: $5,000
Connor Innovation Roveround
University of Arkansas
Team: Cara Conner, Grant Conner
Adviser: Jeremy Powell

SCAN AG takes 2nd place in the agriculture division.
SCAN AG takes 2nd place in the agriculture division.

2nd Place: $3,000
SCAN AG
University of Arkansas
Team: Henderson Clement, Bailey Pratt, Branson Vanlandingham
Adviser: Mark Zweig

Elevator Pitch

Graduate: $2,000
Lapovations LLC
University of Arkansas
Team: Jared Greer, Michael Dunavant, Flavia Araujo
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

About the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The mission of the University of Arkansas’ Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation is to catalyze entrepreneurial activities and innovation across the university and throughout the state in order to build Arkansas’ knowledge-based economy and support healthy, sustainable communities. Since 2009, University of Arkansas students have won more national business plan competitions – 27 in all – than any other institution.

Think. Plan. Do.

Thea Winston, a senior accounting major from Forrest City, Arkansas, is a thinker and a planner. She gathers pertinent information, dwells on it, creates a plan and then executes it. Information gathering is what led her to the Sam M. Walton College of Business and has kept her on track ever since.

When Winston was in high school in eastern Arkansas, she began to critique her likes and dislikes to plan for her future. She hated blood and gore, so medicine was a definite no. She liked numbers and logic, which led her to work after school at certified public accountant Sharon Wilson’s office in Forrest City.

While there, Winston performed administrative duties – answered the phone, made copies, filed materials – and was able to tackle the occasional accounting task and observe her boss at work. She learned what an accountant does and saw first hand that the work suited her. She realized she could become a CPA.

Her task became: Find a college that fit.

Over two summers, Winston attended two week-long residential programs at Walton College – Technology Awareness Program and Business Leadership Academy – where she met faculty and staff, lived on campus, befriended other campers and applied for scholarships.

After that, her mind was made up. Walton College was her choice and accounting was her major.

Helping Out

Winston’s summer camp programs eased her transition into college. She had made friends at both programs and reconnected with them in her freshmen year. She also met Barbara Lofton, the director of Walton’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“Dr. Lofton is always willing to help,” Winston said. “She always checked up on me. She gives you tough love and is always there.”

Thea Winston [photo credit: Ryan C. Versey]
Thea Winston
[photo credit: Ryan C. Versey]
Winston’s Honors adviser for the past four years is Jason Adams, the associate director of Walton’s Honors Program, who was always there for Winston as well. She cites Susan Anders, the assistant director of Global Engagement, as another Walton staff member who was equally friendly and supportive.

“She always made time to answer my questions,” Winston said.

With the support of these Walton College staff, it is no surprise that Winston was an active participant in the Honors Program and Study Abroad and scholarship opportunities.

During her high school summer camp programs, Winston applied for and became a Boyer Fellow. The fellowship is earmarked for business students from Arkansas who have earned a 32 ACT or 1450 SAT college admission exams, along with a 3.75 grade point average and pays for her tuition, fees, books, room and board and other academic expenses.

Winston has also received the Arkansas Academic Challenge and Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholarships, as well as scholarships from Tyson and Conoco Phillips. Talking to Walton faculty and staff helped her find scholarships.

“They’ve helped out so much,” Winston said. “I see a lot of students struggle and I know that worrying impacts their studies. It (scholarships) allowed me to focus on what I was doing academically.”

The scholarships also had an impact on her parents who have two kids in college. Winston’s brother, Avery, is an engineering student at the University of Arkansas.

Walton World View

In addition to studying accounting and general business, Winston expanded her working business knowledge through an internship for two summers at Ernst & Young in Atlanta. She also participated in Walton’s study abroad program to learn about Vietnamese culture and business practices.

Thea Winston
During a service project in Vietnam, Winston works with team members to power and heat resident housing.

In 2015, the summer before sophomore year, Winston traveled to Vietnam for a month with five other Walton students. For two weeks, she worked on a community development project building individual greenhouse systems to power and heat resident housing. Working with other business and agriculture students from the University of Arkansas, Thea learned from Vietnamese students who served as mentors and translators.

The travelers stayed on a Vietnamese university campus for two weeks. They slept on mats lying directly on a twin-size bed frame – Winston bought a second mat to create a softer bed. The food also was a change for the Arkansas native. Breakfast was often meat with rice, along with coffee with sweetened condensed milk ladled on top. One of her favorite meals was a beef dish with a sauce. She avoided the fish dishes if the eyes and head were intact.

Thea Winston
Thea Winston

“The first year we went, none of us had much of an idea of what we would be doing or how successful the program would ultimately be,” said Stephen Kopp, associate professor for the Department of Marketing. “Whether she realizes it, Thea was instrumental in the initial and continuing impact of this program. This was a brand-new program, and I was still working on the details. Her consistent question was, ‘My mom wants to know how is this relevant to my major?’ This compelled me, and still does, to make sure that the students understand the relevance of our work in Vietnam. I think she did not and does not realize the impact of her mom’s question has had on every aspect of the Vietnam program.”

In spring 2017, Winston attended the University of Sussex in South England in the University of Arkansas’ exchange program. She took four classes there – international business, ethics, race and ethnicity, and leadership – with students from Russia, Switzerland, the Middle East and England. The experience taught her about multi-national enterprises, racial issues in other countries and group dynamics with diverse members.

During her time in England, she learned many people there knew American politics, but most Americans were not in tune with world politics. She now sees the importance of being aware of global issues including political ones. She keeps up with her fellow students from her travels via social media.

Stateside

At the University of Arkansas, several classes and professors were especially thought provoking for Thea. Katie Terrell, an instructor for the Department of Accounting, taught Accounting Technology, where Winston learned about data analysis and the coding needed for accounting systems. It gave her insight into a different aspect of her major.

Thea Winston [photo credit: Ryan C. Versey]
Thea Winston [photo credit: Ryan C. Versey]
“She (Katie Terrell) enjoyed her job; it made me enjoy her class,” Winston said.

The Honors Economics Colloquium class taught by Amy Farmer, a professor in the Department of Economics, tackled life decisions, which involved economic thinking and decision making.

“Thea took my Honors colloquium course, which is a discussion-based economics class requiring a lot of critical thinking about any number of issues, some of which are controversial,” Farmer said. “Thea was an active participant in that class, adding a lot of insight and perspectives that added to the class.  She showed a great deal of maturity and ability to think critically, which impressed me quite a bit. I look forward to seeing what happens in Thea’s future.”

Next Steps

After Winston graduates in May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she will attend Vanderbilt University to earn a master’s degree in accounting. Once she graduates from Vanderbilt, she hopes to work at a public accounting firm in consulting, auditing or tax accounting for several years and then reevaluate her professional goals and direction.

No doubt, her skills at researching an issue, creating a plan and executing the plan will aid her on her journey to Nashville and beyond.

New Student Jobs at the McMillon Innovation Studio

Beginning in fall 2018, the McMillon Innovation Studio will be forming innovation design teams that will focus on prototyping new models of delivery, services, products and policies in the areas of (1) health and well-being, (2) supply chain and (3) seamless commerce. We will be hiring student project leaders for each of these teams, who will have the opportunity to travel, create and innovate for real impact, gain job experience, earn potential credit hours, and receive potential funding to support innovation prototypes. All majors are welcome to apply.

The McMillon Innovation Studio seeks to shape the future of commerce by inspiring students to be catalysts of innovation.

For more information regarding student job opportunities, visit:

Students with creative, innovative ideas in health and well-being, supply chain or seamless commerce are welcome to join a design team being in fall 2018. Contact Rachel Sullivant at rsullivant@walton.uark.edu for additional information.

Video Project Highlights Shook’s Freshman Business Connections Class

Freshman year is life changing. Everything – from laundry and dorm rooms to classes and free time – is new and different. Teens are expected to navigate through classes and campus, manage their time and thrive on their own.

To help students’ transition to this new lifestyle, Carole Shook, an instructor for the Department of Supply Chain Management at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, created a team project to encourage freshmen to get to know each other, discover resources on campus and strengthen personal development skills.

Freshman Business Connections students visit the McMillon Innovation Studio.
Freshman Business Connections students visit the McMillon Innovation Studio.

Within her fall 2017 Freshman Business Connections class, Shook assigned a team project to create a video overview of the McMillon Innovation Studio on campus and then present their findings in class. The studio, a gift from Walmart chief executive officer and Walton graduate Doug McMillon and his wife Shelley, tests new technologies and is designed to impact the future of retail. The project, designed by McMillon Innovation Studio director Clint Johnson and Shook, required teamwork, time management, exploration of Walton College resources and networking with classmates.

Freshman Business Connections, often referred to as FBC, is taught to first-year business students to acclimate them to campus, understand what resources are available to them, introduce them to other freshman and help them be successful at the Walton College. It introduces them to David W. Mullins Library for research, academic integrity and ethics, the Business Communications Lab for writing assistance, the Credit Counseling of Arkansas for personal finance management, Walton Career Services for job readiness and the degree opportunities at Walton. The class also helps students’ transition from high school to college by nurturing personal development skills such as time management, stress management, financial planning, health and wellness, diversity and team building.

“I would say team management was the greatest skill I improved at,” said Jay Lovaas, a freshman from Canton, Ga. “I had to effectively communicate with my team members, help with any questions they may have had, and rely on them to check my work as I checked theirs.”

After selecting teams, the freshmen interviewed staff and students at the studio and created outlines for videos and presentations. Each student was responsible for a portion of the project and collaborated with the team on deliverables.

Team members Ryan Hardwick, Alexis Humm, Cydney Feinstone, Elijah Kaplan and interviewer Noah Tidmore recorded video, captured still photography, created graphics and wrote interview questions. In their video below, freshman Noah Tidmore interviews Kayla Bruskas, a senior accounting student and student manager for the McMillon Innovation Studio.

Team members for this video include Ryan Hardwick, Alexis Humm, Cydney Feinstone, Elijah Kaplan and interviewer Noah Tidmore.

“This project was created to show that freshmen students can do amazing things,” Shook said. “These were great students who worked hard and with enthusiasm.”

Throughout the project, students learned about the opportunities at the McMillon Studio, got to know their team members and explored campus. Simply put, the project helped freshmen get connected to their new life on campus.

“It was just a fun class,” Lovaas said. “It gets you in the flow of going to class during your first semester. In my opinion, the greatest thing about FBC is meeting people.”

U of A Chapter Takes A Third Place at AMA International Collegiate Conference

The American Marketing Association chapter at the University of Arkansas took third place for best educational value at the 40th Annual AMA International Collegiate Conference.

Twelve members of the campus chapter attended the meeting in April in New Orleans, Louisiana, with more than 1,900 attendees from other schools. At the conference, students participated in competitions, keynote speaker events and a career fair.

The U of A chapter also received an award for Outstanding Membership, Communication and Professional Development.

U of A students who attended were chapter presidents Lindsey Simpson and Hunter Wilson and Andrew Bickford, Phoebe Frazier, Lauren Guilette, Justice Macy, Victoria Maness, Meagan Miller, Ben Martin, Nicklaus Porter, Harper Ramsey and Ally Watson.

Walton Study Abroad Instagram Photo Contest Results

The third annual Walton Study Abroad Instagram Photo Contest has announced its winners for this year! Early this semester, Walton students who studied abroad in 2017 were encouraged to enter their pictures to the categories of Local People, Culture, Hogs Abroad, Places, and Historic of the photo contest to be featured on Instagram.

The many submissions were voted on by Instagram followers and the most-liked photos were passsed on to a faculty round of judging. Thank you from the Global Engagement Office to all who submitted photos and participated in this year’s contest! Congratulations to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners!

To view all the submissions to the contest, check out the Walton Study Abroad Instagram (@walton_studyabroad) and maybe they will encourage you to study abroad in the near future!