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A trio of student inventors from UT will compete against other student teams from Southeastern Conference Schools in an entrepreneurial pitch competition at the 2015 Southeastern Conference Symposium September 20–22 in Atlanta.

The symposium is an academic conference that highlights a significant scholarly issue by focusing on the disciplinary strengths of the SEC’s fourteen member universities.

This year, the symposium’s theme is “Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Driving a 21st Century Economy.” Along with a variety of presentations and discussions, the symposium will feature displays of student creative endeavors as well as an entrepreneurial pitch competition.

Students Jake Rheude, Dustin Giltnane, and John Born—who created the company, a 2015 Boyd Venture Challenge winner—will be competing in the entrepreneurial pitch contest. Rheude, a second-year MBA student concentrating in supply chain and entrepreneurship and innovation, is the company’s “founding guru.” Gilgnane, a second-year dual MBA-MS nuclear engineering student, is the “operations guru.” Born, a second-year MBA student concentrating in finance with international business collateral, is the “financial guru.” brings together board-sport athletes and artists who design vinyl wraps for snowboards, wakeboards, surfboards, skis, and other sport boards. Board-sport athletes can use Guru Skins’ e-commerce store to browse submitted designs, read the artist’s bios, and purchase a ‘”skin.”

The GuruSkins team will compete against student teams from the other SEC universities. Each team will present its ideas to a panel of SEC alumni judges in two preliminary rounds. The top three teams will move on to the final round where they will present their plan to a different set of judges and all SEC Symposium attendees. The final will be streamed live at 5:15 p.m. on SEC Network + on Monday, September 21.

The SEC Network+ is available on WatchESPN and and is available to SEC Network subscribers on smartphones, tablets and desktop applications as well as Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The SEC Symposium will also be featured on SEC Now, the SEC Network’s daily news show.

Other students involved in the symposium are:

Joshua Brown, a sophomore in the College Scholars Program, is the university’s ambassador. He is responsible for overseeing UT’s delegation and assisting the SECU conference in logistics and planning on behalf of UT. Brown’s studies focus on Middle Eastern Studies with a concentration on human rights, disaster, and displacement.

Marisa Mitchell, a senior in studio arts with a 3D concentration, will be displaying one of her wood-carved sculptures called “Human Nature.”

Rebecca Gillogly, Jessica Porter, and Allison Summers, all graduate students in architecture, who will be presenting a project in the Applied Arts Exhibition that explores the possibility of using additive manufacturing (3D printing) to create buildings. Their project—designing a mobile visitors center—was done in collaboration with the College of Art and Architecture’s Governor’s Chair studio that partners with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Chicago-based architecture firm SOM. Inspired by origami and folding techniques, the trio created a flexible model with 3D-printed joints.

David Webb, a fifth-year senior studying studio music and jazz, will be playing guitar in a jazz band at the symposium.

In addition, four UT staff members will be on symposium panels:

Stacey Patterson, associate vice president and director of research partnerships, will be on the “Economic Impact of University Innovation” panel.

Ernest Brothers, associate dean of the Graduate School, will participate in the graduate school question-and-answer discussion session.

David Schumann, founding director of the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center, will be on the “Best Practices in Use of Technology in the Classroom” panel.

Rhonda Reger, professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship in the Haslam College of Business, will be on the “Building Partnerships with Industry and the Community” panel.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,