Shoals Big Idea Competition

Why should you enter?

The purpose of the BIG Idea Competition is to foster innovation and entrepreneurship by getting OUR community to Imagine the Shoals as the Next leader in Digital Technology.  What will we have to do as a community to get there?  We are seeking YOUR help to help us identify some of the ideas that we will have to embrace and build on to be a significant player in the digital space.  WE hope that some of your ideas will lead to business opportunities and the possibility of creating those opportunities in the Shoals.


  • Your IDEA(S) could make a BIG difference to OUR Community (Food for thought)
  • Potential of seeing your IDEA become a reality
  • Be a leading voice in Digital Technology
  • Cash prizes totaling $2500.


  • Every business is in the digital technology business
  • Technology companies from all over the world are looking outside of Silicon Valley for talent, and any city that develops capable technologists will have an advantage over those that don’t
  • Demand for technology workers is at an all-time high, but many communities (especially in the South) don’t emphasize/encourage it
  • Technology jobs will only increase in numbers while other fields will see declining demand for labor
2017 Keynote Speaker

Dr. Deborah E. Barnhart

Dr. Deborah E. Barnhart
Dr. Deborah E. Barnhart

src_crescent8Dr. Barnhart became the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in December 2010. The Center is the official Visitor Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, and the showcase for Redstone Arsenal and defense programs, including energy.

Home to the world renowned U.S. Space Camp®, U.S. Space Academy®, Aviation Challenge®, and Robotics Camp, the Center is Alabama’s leading tourist attraction. Leading technology initiatives in aerospace and defense are showcased along with international space artifacts including the world’s only complete full‐scale Space Shuttle stack and the National Historic Landmark Apollo Saturn V moon rocket.

Dr. Barnhart’s career spans three decades of service in commercial industry, government, aerospace and defense. A retired Navy Captain (0‐6), she was one of the first ten women assigned to duty aboard ships and commanded five units in her 26 year career. She was Vice President of three Dow 30 aerospace and defense companies, serving in manufacturing, business development, program and research management, and congressional lobbying for Honeywell International, McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing), and United Technologies Aerospace.

Dr. Barnhart was recently appointed to the Smithsonian Affiliations Advisory Council. She is a recipient of NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest form of recognition awarded by NASA to a non‐government individual. She is a member of the Board of Managers of the Air Force Museum Foundation and Trustee on the Board of the University of Alabama in Huntsville Foundation. She currently serves as Governor Robert Bentley’s appointee to the Alabama Space Authority Task Force.

Dr. Barnhart earned her doctorate at Vanderbilt University, holds degrees from the University of Maryland, the University of Alabama Huntsville, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she was a Sloan Fellow. She resides in Huntsville, Alabama and Clearwater Beach, Florida.



IF you are a member of the winning team and you plan to start the Engineering Management Technology program and/or the Innovation Engineering Program in Fall 2017 then you can earn a $2,000 scholarship. A total of 3 scholarships worth $6,000 are waiting for you to claim it! Start putting your BIG IDEA together.

The Top 10 Game Changing Tech Trends for 2016

Mobile Business Transactions

Big Data Analytics

Predictive Intelligence

Social Media

Cloud Computing

Digital Customer Engagements

Cognitive Computing

Internet of Things

Knowledge Engineering

Innovative Ecosystems

Source: Huffington Post

Competitor's Timeline

FEBRUARY 26, 2017

Last Date for Submissions
By 11:00 pm

FEBRUARY 27, 2017

Submissions Handed Over to Judges

MARCH 3, 2017

Top 3-5 Finalists

MARCH 9, 2017

The Big Idea Event
Time: 5:00 pm
Location: UNA Performance Center
Finalists Present Their Ideas


  1. Contestants need to submit their ideas with the form below or via email as a PDF. If submitting via email, the file should include these 2 items: 1) A page with the credentials (name; affiliation with school/institution/organization; cell phone number) of the contestants; 2) Either a link to their own YouTube video (3 min max) OR a page with their ideas (limit: 500 words) by February 21, 2017. A sample cover page should look like this:
    Name____________________________ Email Address ____________________________
    Affiliation (School/University/Organization _________________________Grade ____________
    Cell phone ________________________Preferred Method of Contact_________________
    I would like my/our entry to be considered for the following category______________(Please pick one of these 3 categories: K–12/University/Community)
  2. All entries have to be submitted digitally via the form below or  to the following email address:
  3. Individuals and teams can participate in this IDEA Competition. The credentials page should state the names of the team members.
  4. Individuals and team members can submit multiple ideas.
  5. The top entries in each category will be notified by March 4, 2017.
  6. Contestants who enter the Big Idea must be available to present to the judges on Thursday, March 9, 2017 from 5–7 pm.


In 500 words or less or in a video (3 min. max), please state

  • Unique Ideas for Digital Technology: Imagination & Creativity (10 points)
  • Problem that the Idea addresses (5 points)
  • Potential Benefits from the Idea (5 points)
  • Why will this IDEA work? (5 points)


Each Presenter will have 3 minutes to present to the judges followed by 2 minutes of Q&A.  Judges will be looking for the following:

  • Imagination & Creativity leading to Uniqueness of the Idea (5 points)
  • Problem that the Idea addresses (5 points)
  • Potential Benefits from the Idea (5 points)
  • Passion (5 points)
  • How practical is this idea? (5 points)


Contestant #1

I would like my/our entry to be considered for the following category:
Upload a file (pdf only):

Catch on past articles and videos



Presenting Sponsor


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