ECE student wins second place in annual business competition
An ECE grad student’s startup has won $25,000 in Purdue’s 34th annual Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition. Mahdi Al-Husseini is the co-founder of Aura Training Systems, one of five Purdue student startups which took home part of the $92,500 in prize money.
Aura Training Systems is a dynamic in-flight task training tool using computer vision and machine learning to collect valuable data for use by pilots of rotary or fixed-wing aircraft. The startup seeks to ensure “efficient flight training, additionally capable pilots, and safer skies.”
Additional awards went to:
- First place ($40,000): AeonCharge by Laegacy Inc., an aggregation platform using proprietary technology to provide for the upgrade and streamlined management of electric vehicle chargers.
- Third place ($15,000): Hippo Straw LLC, for engineering a sustainable, low-cost biodegradable plastic straw using water hyacinth, a fast-growing invasive species.
- Fourth place ($7,500): ParkOut, a digital marketplace for event parking or tailgating.
- Fifth place ($5,000): MockIVIEW, a one-stop job preparation portal that facilitates mock interviews with real-time feedback.
The competition promoting student entrepreneurship began in September was conducted entirely virtually beginning in September 2020 and concluding in April 2021, with participation from over 120 students and 70 teams from across Purdue. Teams were provided virtual business model workshops, seminars and training through Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. A group of Purdue alumni entrepreneurs and venture capitalists evaluated the final business models and selected five finalists.
FreedomWare Inc. received the Schurz Innovation Award ($12,000) for its design for affordable sealable spoons for people with tremors, Parkinson's disease or other movement disorders. EdVizion, a service increasing student exposure to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, (liberal) arts and math) careers, received the Social Innovation Award ($1,000) and the Schurz Best Female-Founded Team ($8,000).
Previous competitors in the Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition have gone on to participate in TechCrunch Disrupt's Startup Battlefield, the International Business Model Competition, and to be named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Last year's first-place winner, Glimpse, has since raised $1.7 million in funding for its startup facilitating branded product placement in vetted short-term rental properties. The competition has awarded over $2 million to student startups since its inception in 1987.