STELLARTON – If you had walked into classroom C220 on NSCC Pictou Campus on Wednesday, it might have felt a bit like the set of CBC’s hit reality show ‘Dragon’s Den.’
Five judges listened intently as five groups of NSCC students tested their entrepreneurial mettle, pitching new and innovative ideas for a product or service.
Emmett Patton of Antigonish County and Jordan Pero of New Glasgow of NSCC’s electronic engineering technician (EET) department took the top prize of $500 and will move on to the provincial competition.
Though in the prototype stage, they hope their device will give firefighters more time to exit a building before a fatal flashover, the near-simultaneous ignition of most of the directly exposed combustible material in an enclosed area.
They aim to save lives with their monitoring system, which stemmed from Patton’s experience as a volunteer firefighter with the Four Valleys Fire Department.
The unit they created features a carbon monoxide sensor, temperature sensor, oxygen sensor and LED visor display. They’re hoping to market the unit to fire departments and schools and training facilities.
The second place team was EET students Richard Edwards and Brad Ferguson and third place was EET students Bob Ross, Paul Crosby and Arthur Jacquard.
NSCC Pictou Campus business academic chair Jim Bate said while it is a competition, IDEAS 2013 is more about promoting entrepreneurship.
“This is about ideas, what makes sense in the market and then seeing if there’s a business opportunity down the road,” said Bate.
Most of the teams came from the EET department, though one team came with a business background.
Jean MacDonald, a business faculty member, said the curriculum for EET students has been built around the ideas behind the competition.
“This gives the students an opportunity to present themselves and their ideas,” said MacDonald. “It’s a chance to integrate theory into practical.”
The EET presentations focused on the use of microcontrollers.
“These are essentially small, self-contained computers,” said Glen Coleman, EET faculty. “Everything from iPhones to coffee makers use them.
“Our students are writing new code for these microcontrollers so they can be used for new applications and markets.”
The Pictou Campus has seen previous winners of the competition go on to continue studies in EET or take up successful jobs in the industry.
Teams were judged based on overall innovation, market and marketing strategy, costs required and overall presentation.
Judges for the IDEAS 2013 competition included local business leaders and entrepreneurs, including Dave Freckelton, principal of NSCC Pictou Campus; Jim Fitt, Velsoft; Bruce Herron, Herron’s GMC; Ron O’Brien, CDBC; and Kevin Campbell, Scotsburn.
Goals of the IDEAS 2013 competition include creating a venue for students to participate in creative entrepreneurial thinking, celebrating the ingenuity of Nova Scotia students by providing a public forum for their work and developing successful commercial entities that will improve the quality of life in Nova Scotia.