Governor’s School for Business, Innovation and Technology goes online this year

Tennessee Tech First Lady Kari Oldham speaks to a 2019 class of Governor's School for Business, Innovation and Technology. This year’s governor’s school will be online.

COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech has been the site of one of 11 Governor’s Schools over the last 21 years. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tech’s campus will be empty, and the school will be going online.

Governor’s School for Business, Innovation and Technology, which starts on June 1, is an experience similar to Shark Tank for high school juniors and seniors. It enhances student knowledge of business and entrepreneurship practices, global innovation, information technology and leadership principles with students forming teams to develop a plan for a business of their own creation. The business will be based on a technologically innovative product. Students live on campus and get the full college experience.

Susan Wells has been involved with the program since its inception 21 years ago. This will be the first time it’s been held online.

“This is still evolving, but the goal is to pull off an incredible experience for these students,” Wells said. “We’ll have interactive social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and lively speakers.”

Starting Monday, Wells plans to go live from Johnson Hall for two hours a morning while incorporating other meeting times, team breakouts and other fun activities for the students.

“We’re being as creative as we can be,” she said. “We’re working on an interactive campus tour, telling students that even though you can’t come to Tech now, we’re bringing Tech to you.”

While working on the business plan, students partner with a business mentor, which will help the students develop their idea.

Adam Browner and Kylie Scruggs helped with the event last year and are working hard to make this experience a great one.

“The weirdest part will be the activities and events,” Scruggs said. “We have got to be creative with those.”

Browner said the students last year came up with some really neat ideas.

“There was one group that came up with the idea of an eraseable highlighter and another with smart window tint,” Browner said.

Another year, another group came up with a concept similar to the Cloud.

As Tech students who have been finishing the semester online, they’re pretty acclimated to an online environment, which helps them develop ideas on how to make this a memorable experience.

“We usually have a scavenger hunt on campus, so we’re going to do that virtually this year,” Scruggs said.

They are currently reaching out to alternates due to some students saying they did not want to do it online.

“One student said he wants to experience it in person, so he’ll wait until next year,” Wells said.

It is also a way to promote Tech.

“We get students who come to Tech due to Governor’s School,” Wells said. “Many students say it is the experience of their time in high school or their lives.”

Participants will receive a box of Tech goodies and Wells hopes to be able to bring the students who participated this year to campus for a little tour and meet-and-greet.

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