It’s not every day junior high through college-bound students get the opportunity to pitch their solutions for real world problems to top-level industry experts and a judging panel of venture capitalists. But with the help of Bonneville Power Administration employees – among staff from other notable Northwest-based companies – that’s just what happened July 17 at iUrban Teen’s virtual iPitch competition.
The iPitch platform allows students to learn more about an engineering or technical-based company through mentoring and then present an innovative concept – whether it be a service product, community good or next best thing for the company.
Students from across the country were split into small groups to work with employee teams from BPA, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Nike, Nintendo, T-Mobile and SAP Concur over a three-week period on the ideation process and a slide deck to pitch their innovative concept.
This was the first year BPA participated in the competition – with a team led by employees from across the agency, representing organizations such as Transmission, Power, Energy Efficiency, Tribal Affairs and Communications.
The team helped a group of five students prepare their pitch for the concept of an app called polliNation. This interactive traveling video game concept allows the user to have fun while learning how to protect pollinator habitats, a key component in BPA’s environmental stewardship goals.
On competition day, John Hairston, chief operating officer, Suzanne Cooper, vice president of Bulk Marketing, and Robin Furrer, chief administrative officer, tuned in to the competition to show support for Team BPA.
“The polliNation app was not only a great concept but an excellent match to what we promote as an organization,” said Hairston. “I was highly impressed with the students’ level of engagement and the innovative ideas they brought to the event. It was a gratifying experience to see such talent. Well done, Team BPA.”
In the end, Team BPA won fourth place for their proposed app, coming in behind Intel, Nike and Microsoft; it was a great achievement for the first ever BPA team at iPitch.
“Team BPA did a great job – the creativity they poured into the polliNation app, and their excitement for the positive good it could do for pollination was inspiring,” said Cooper, also a member of iUrban Teen’s Executive Council. “I really commend the BPA volunteers for their efforts in coaching this youth team to success.”