On-Campus Event

Elevator Pitch Competition allows students to practice essential skills

By Varenya Gade February 27, 2019

Since its inception in 2010, the MANE Student Advisory Council has been working to bridge the gap between students and faculty in the mechanical, aeronautical, and nuclear engineering departments. It primarily serves to give students a medium to express academic and curricula-related concerns and works to connect them with faculty that can find a solution. It also offers students a variety of opportunities to take their innovations to the next level through publications like Student Journals, an online platform to publish their work.

One of the opportunities the MANE SAC offers its students is the Annual Elevator Pitch Competition. An elevator pitch is a 60 to 90-second persuasive speech about an innovation, invention, or research project to convince a venture capitalist to invest. This Saturday the second edition of the event, from 9 am to 2 pm at The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. It was preceded by a workshop on Friday for the participants to practice and formulate their pitches.

The keynote speakers for the event were Evaguel Rhysing and Daryian Rhysing of United Aircraft Technologies. Rhysing is an alumnus of Rensselaer. He shared his inspiring story of success, peppered with advice for the aspiring entrepreneurs. The key to successful communication, he emphasized, is continuous practice and robust feedback.

The competition began with contestants pitching ideas on a variety of topics; from self-contained nuclear energy sources to underwater fitness trackers. At the end of the day, the pitch that took first place was called “The Polarisbelt,” by Adam Circle ’20. It described a belt that is designed to detect magnetic fields as it turns the human body into a compass and greatly increases the navigational skills of those with visual impairment. The second place pitch went to Matthew Cherry ’20 and his idea for a suitcase with a compressible compartment that greatly increases organizational efficiency and only relies on manual energy provided by the user. The third place pitch was awarded to Amber Kesapradist ’22, and her idea for high heels with alarm buttons in their soles, a security solution that would completely change how women go out at night.

The Elevator Pitch Competition allowed the participants to hone their communication skills and get first-hand experience with pitching ideas and setting up ventures. It also gave them the chance to have “game-changers” in the engineering world evaluate their ideas and give them great feedback—maybe even attract potential investors. It was an enriching experience and the talent in the room was astounding.