2010 Tennessee State University FOCUSS Idea Competition Sponsored by Johnson Controls

The presidios campus of Tennessee State University was the site of the FOCUSS (Framework for Opportunity Convergence and the Utilization of Sustainable Solutions) Idea Competition, which took place on 16 November 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 creative solutions to a sponsoring corporation. Competition was open to all current Tennessee State University (TSU) students. The corporate Sponsor of the TSU competition was Johnson Controls.

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 Tennessee State University faculty advisor) identified a problem and proposed 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.

Tennessee State University (TSU), located in Nashville, is a major, comprehensive urban land-grant institution offering 45 bachelor's degrees and 24 master's degrees. Doctoral degrees are offered in seven areas: biological sciences, psychology, public administration, curriculum and instruction, administration and supervision, and computer information systems engineering and physical therapy. Founded in 1912, the university has been listed for the past thirteen years in the U.S. News & World Report "Guide to America's Best Colleges."

TSU's College of Engineering, Technology & Computer Science is committed to providing the highest quality industry-driven curricula in engineering, technology, and computer science to meet the growing demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals in industry, government, and entrepreneurship. The College currently provides BS degrees in Architectural, Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering, with several concentrations such as manufacturing, environmental, facilities, and computer engineering. 

Recognizing the need for developing graduates with an appreciation for global awareness, solid engineering fundamentals, and professionalism, the College is striving to develop and promote an educational experience that produces the "global engineer" through life or language learning, an FE-based (Fundamentals of Engineering) curriculum for outcome assessment, and critical skills in research, design, problem solving, and communication.  A dedicated faculty and staff seek to integrate innovative approaches to instruction, laboratory experience, and internships to address the contemporary challenges of the profession, and engage the community through service and outreach.

Leading the Idea effort at Tennessee State University is Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean and Professor and TSU's College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science.

Dr. Hargrove received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee State University and a  Master of Science Degree in Engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla.  He holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa.  Dr. Hargrove also studied at the United States Military Academy at the University of Michigan and is a Harvard University Administrative Fellow.   His research interests comprise statistical applications in manufacturing; manufacturing systems design; quality control; Six Sigma; and engineering education. 

A recipient of the Outstanding Educator, Community Award in 2002 and the GEM Alumni Award for Mentoring, Dr. Hargrove is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and an Associate Member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineering.

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.