2011 Jackson State University FOCUSS Idea Competition Sponsored by Johnson Controls, Inc.

The presidios campus of Jackson State University was the site of the FOCUSS (Framework for Opportunity Convergence and the Utilization of Sustainable Solutions), which took place on 31 March 2011.

Created to stimulate constructive thought surrounding concepts of innovation and discovery, the FOCUSS Idea Competition provided students a unique opportunity to share and cultivate solutions to "real world" problem statements presented by sponsoring institutions. Competition was open to all current Jackson State University students. The corporate Sponsor of the Jackson State competition was Johnson Controls, Inc.

Areas of Concentration

  • Green Building Technology
  • Building Efficiency

Platform for Idea Competition

Guided by the FOCUSS Areas of Concentration, students (with the optional assistance of associated Jackson State University faculty advisor) identified a problem and propose an idea that resolved that problem and enhanced sustainability.

Proposals were judged on the following criteria:

  • Innovative nature of the Idea,
  • Creative nature of the presentation,
  • Involvement of the University or business community, and
  • Potential impact of the sustainable solution.
  • $500 First Place
  • $300 Second Place
  • $200 Third Place

    National FOCUSS Idea Competition
    In addition to the First-Place prize award of $500, the First-Place winning team/individual of the Live Idea Competition will participate in the National FOCUSS Idea Competition that will be held April 2011 at the Headquarters of Johnson Controls, Inc. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and will receive:

  • student travel to Milwaukee and lodging,
  • advisor travel to Milwaukee and lodging, and
  • an opportunity to compete for the following National Awards: $5,000 1st Place, $2,000 2nd Place, $1,000 3rd Place.
  • Additionally, Johnson Controls, Inc. will produce a video documentary of the National Competition’s First-Place winner’s idea and school.  The documentary will be shown at the U.S. Energy Forum, 15 June in Washington, D.C.

    Since 1877, Jackson State University has been providing young men and women opportunities that will empower them to succeed in an increasingly complex world. As the Urban University of Mississippi, Jackson State emphasizes public service programs designed to enhance quality of life and seek solutions to urban problems in the physical, social, intellectual, and economic environments.

    Building on its historic mission of empowering diverse students to become leaders, Jackson State University will become recognized as a challenging, yet nurturing, state-of-the-art technologically-infused intellectual community. Students and faculty will engage in creative research, participate in interdisciplinary and multi-institutional/ organizational collaborative learning teams and serve the global community.

    The University produces technologically-advanced, diverse, ethical, global leaders who think critically, address societal problems and compete effectively.

    Dr. Mary M. White Leading the Idea effort at Jackson State University is Dr. Mary M. White, Chair of the College of Business, Department of Entrepreneurship and Professional Development.

    Dr. Mary M. White is a pioneer and innovator in the academic, entrepreneurial and service communities. She is the inaugural chairperson and associate professor of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Professional Development in the College of Business at Jackson State University. She spearheaded the creation and approval of a new BBA degree in Entrepreneurship in 2005, which became the first of its kind in the state of Mississippi and among HBCU’s. She is an educational consultant, customer service/training specialist, curriculum designer and mentor to hundreds of students. Dr. White teaches entrepreneurship courses and advises seniors, along with ten entrepreneurial scholars. Her research interests are entrepreneurship education, opportunity recognition, business plan development and proposal writing.

    She is a Class of 2010 NHIC Community Servant and a veteran Sam Walton Fellow, recognized as one of America’s leading educators. Further, she has been a Price-Babson and LLEEP Fellow in Entrepreneurship as well. Her commitment to entrepreneurship led her to co-author the book, The Engrossed Entrepreneurial Campus: What Our Economy and Our Academy Needs Now. Dr. White’s passion for entrepreneurship and international business extends to South Africa, China, Puerto Rico, Romania, India, Spain and France.

    Dr. White has represented Jackson State on the Capitol City Convention Center Procurement Outreach Advisory Board, HBCU/Babson Entrepreneurship and Olin Engineering Consortium and the Mississippi Entrepreneurial Alliance. She is an active board member of the Minority Serving Institutions Research Partnerships Consortium (Vice Chair), Society for Financial Education and Professional Development (SFEPD), Executive Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education/Jake Ayers Research Institute Council (former chair), Katherine Murriel Education Foundation (named for her grandmother) and Clinton Alumnae Delta Enterprise, Inc. (President). She successfully directed the 2008 and 2009 Global Entrepreneurship Week initiatives, the 2004 Minority Serving Institutions Conference and the 2005 Women of Color Entrepreneurs Conference at Jackson State University. From 2006 to present, Dr. White has coordinated funding for the Business Entrepreneurial Scholars Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Small Farmers Training Initiative and three grants through JSU Students in Free Enterprise (AIG/Chartis Credit Counseling grant, SAM’s Club Environmental Sustainability grant and SIFE “I Choose” grant--guiding at-risk high school students in entrepreneurship and free enterprise). A native of Clinton, Mississippi, she has initiated various educational programs for at-risk females in the rural communities of Hinds County in conjunction with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Further, she directs the Youth Ministry at her local church. Dr. White earned degrees at Northern Illinois University (Ed.D), Jackson State University (M.B.Ed.) and Alcorn State University (B.S.Ed.).

    Cummins Inc., a global power leader, is a corporation of complementary business units that design, manufacture, distribute and service engines and related technologies, including fuel systems, controls, air handling, filtration, emission solutions and electrical power generation systems.

    Johnson Controls is a global leader in energy and operational efficiency for building, innovative interiors for vehicles, and advanced vehicle power solutions. Since Professor Warren Johnson invented the first electric room thermostat in 1883, the company has grown exponentially, achieving over $36 billion revenue in 2009.  Johnson Controls is ranked 58 on the Fortune 500 and has 133,000 employees serving customers in over 150 countries.  Founded in 1885, the company is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The vision of JCI is to create a more comfortable, safe and sustainable world.

    Building Efficiency

    Johnson Controls (JCI) is a leading provider of equipment and controls for heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and refrigeration, as well as security systems for buildings. Operating from 500 branch offices in 150 countries, they deliver products, services and solutions that increase energy efficiency and lower operating costs for one million customers. JCI is currently involved in more than 500 renewable energy projects including solar, wind and geothermal technologies. Their innovations have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 12.7 million metric tons and guarantee savings of $7.5 billion. Fifteen percent of the world’s largest companies rely on them to manage 1.5 billion square feet of their commercial real estate.

    Sustainable Comfort

    Johnson Controls is a global leader in automotive seating, overhead systems, door and instrument panels, and interior electronics.  JCI supports all major automakers in the differentiation of their vehicles through products, technologies and advanced manufacturing capabilities. With more than 200 plants worldwide, they are able to be where their customers need them to be.  Consumers have enjoyed the comfort and style of their products, from single components to complete interiors, in more than 200 million vehicles.

    Power Solutions

    Johnson Controls is the global leader in lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced batteries for hybrid and electric batteries. Their 30 plants supply more than one third of the world’s lead-acid batteries to major automakers and aftermarket retailers. More than 75 percent of the 120 million lead-acid batteries they produce every year are sold to aftermarket customers. The remainder is sold directly to nearly every major mass production automaker in the world.  JCI's joint venture, Johnson Controls-Saft, is the first company in the world to produce lithium-ion batteries for mass-production hybrid vehicles. They are also proud that their commitment to sustainability is evidenced by a world-class recycling program and energy-efficient manufacturing

    Idea Competition leadership from Johnson Controls is being provided by Reginald Layton, Director Supplier Diversity; Charles Harvey, Vice President Diversity and Public Relations; and Clay Nesler, Vice President Global Energy and Sustainability.


    Reginald Layton, Director Supplier Diversity

    Reginald Layton is responsible for all processes involving the development and utilization of diverse contractors at Johnson Controls. Under his leadership, JCI received the prestigious National Minority Supplier Development Council, Corporation of the Year in 2007. The honor recognizes increased spending with diverse suppliers, which reached $1.5 billion in 2007, up from $1 billion in 2006. The company also doubled the number of minority suppliers to 276 in 2007 from 140 in 2006. Spending with diverse suppliers rose again - to $1.7 billion - in fiscal 2008. The company did business with more than 300 minority suppliers in fiscal 2008.

    Charles Harvey, Corporate Vice President Diversity and Public Affairs

    Charles Harvey leads workforce and supplier diversity, government relations, community relations and public affairs programs. Charles joined Johnson Controls in 1977 as a technical recruiter. Harvey rejoined the company in 1991. He held positions of increasing responsibility before being named group vice president, Human Resources for the global Automotive Experience business. In 2006, Harvey was named Corporate vice president, Diversity and Public Affairs, leading workforce and supplier diversity, government relations, community relations and public affairs programs. Harvey was named and serves as President of the Johnson Controls foundation. Harvey founded Boch Plastic and served as vice president of Operations. Harvey earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and a Bachelor of Science degree from St. John’s University.

    Clay Nesler, Vice President Global Energy and Sustainability

    Clay Nesler leads a worldwide team responsible for coordinating marketing, legislative affairs, resource management, product/service innovation and energy program management. Nesler's responsibilities also include leading a professional services organization that develops collaborative planning tools and provides consulting services to Johnson Controls customers and third-party clients on a global basis. Since joining Johnson Controls in 1983, Nesler has held a variety of leadership positions in technology, new product development and marketing in both the United States and Europe. Nesler received his bachelor's of science and master's of science degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and is listed as a co–inventor on 10 patents.