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2010 North Carolina A&T State University FOCUSS Idea Competition Sponsored by Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)

Click here to watch competition video.

The presidios campus of North Carolina A&T State University was the site of the initial FOCUSS (Framework for Opportunity Convergence and the Utilization of Sustainable Solutions) Idea Competition, which took place on 24 February 2010.

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 North Carolina A&T State University students. The corporate Sponsor of the North Carolina competition was Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM).

For the Idea Competition, North Carolina A&T students were given the opportunity to address ONE of the following problem statements submitted by ADM:

  • ADM will be developing a new process for cellulosic biofuel production. This process will be required to produce less overall CO2 emissions than produced per unit mass when starting from crude oil. Note, the process must have a competitive capital investment.

    Which process developments should be prioritized and which ones delayed?

    How should biomass feedback be selected to maximize overall profits and minimize environmental impact?

    Considering that a number of biofuel options are possible, with different levels of oxygen content, what kind of biofuels should be targeted to have a firm footprint into the market?

    Ethanol production is rising, but at the same time, a need exists to lower operating costs.
    Which areas in ethanol production should be targeted for cost reduction and environmental impact?

  • Biodiesel production through transesterification produces glycerol as a co-product.

    How can this material value be improved through further chemical processing by means other than the most conventional ones?

The initial idea submissions were evaluated by a group of qualified individuals representing both the public and private sectors. Each submission was judged on the following criteria:

  • Statement of the idea (solution) to resolve the problem. (Are the answers to the submission questions well written and clearly thought out?)

  • How innovative/original is the idea?

  • Does the idea provide a solution to a problem?
  • The first-, second- and third-place winners will have the opportunity to participate in a National FOCUSS Business Plan Competition.

Located in Greensboro, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a public, comprehensive, land-grant university committed to fulfilling its fundamental purposes through exemplary undergraduate and graduate instruction, scholarly and creative research, and effective public service. The University offers degree programs at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels with emphasis on engineering, science, technology, literature, and other academic areas.

As one of North Carolina’s three engineering colleges, the University offers Ph.D. programs in engineering. Basic and applied research is conducted by faculty in university centers of excellence, in inter institutional relationships, and through significant involvement with several public and private agencies. The University also conducts major research through engineering, transportation, and its extension programs in agriculture.

The purpose of the University is to provide an intellectual setting where students in higher education may find a sense of identification, belonging, responsibility, and achievement that will prepare them for roles of leadership and service in the communities where they live and work. In this sense, the University serves as a laboratory for the development of excellence in teaching, research and public service. Currently, North Carolina A&T nurtures ten thousand students.

Leading the Idea effort at North Carolina A&T is Thaddeus McEwen, Ph.D., Professor and Director, ICEEB, Department of Management, School of Business and Economics. Dr. McEwen received his Ph.D. and MS from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and his BS from the University of Technology, Jamaica.

He has been published in journals such as the Journal of Small Business Management, the Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship, the Entrepreneurial Executive, the Business and Professional Ethics Journal, and the Journal of Education for Business. He is an active member of the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the Academy of Management, and the Small Business Institute Director’s Association.

Incorporated in 1923, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is one of the world’s leading processors and distributors of agricultural products for food and animal feed, with additional operations in transportation and storage of such products. Its principal operations are in the processing of soybeans, corn and wheat, the three largest crops in the United States. ADM also products cocoa beans, milo, oats, barley, and peanuts. The company’s feed products are sold to farmers, feed dealers, and live stock producers, while its food products are sold to food and beverage manufacturers.

Among ADM’s better-known products are NutriSoy, a soy protein; Navasoy Isoflavones, an ingredient used in dietary supplements; xanthan gum, a thickening agent used in food products such as salad dressings; citric acid and lactic acid, both used as food additives in food and beverage products to increase their acidity; natural vitamin E; and ethanol, an additive made from corm that is added to gasoline to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles.

ADM has 247 processing plants (including those owned, leased or operated in joint ventures) in the United States and 121 overseas.

Idea Competition leadership from ADM has been provided by John Taylor, Director Corporate and Supplier Diversity.John Taylor joined ADM in 1998. In his current role he is responsible for developing and administering the company’s diversity strategies and initiatives. John began with ADM as a grain merchandiser.

He most recently served as director of supplier diversity and was named director of corporate supplier diversity in 2002. Prior to joining ADM, he served as marketing director for two environmental firms. John received a Bachelor of Science degree in agribusiness from Ohio State University and a Master of Business Administration from Millikin University. He earned a diversity professional certification from Cornell University. John serves as a board member for Community Investment Corporation of Decatur, Diversity Information Resources, Millikin University Alumni Association, and ORC Worldwide. In 2007, he received the Eagle Award for Leadership from the National Eagle Leadership Institute.


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