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Purdue University Fort Wayne Students Earn Top Prize At Techapalooza

The COVID-19 pandemic put its own imprint on the 2020 Do it Best Techapalooza Student Project competition this year. The annual technology event, hosted by Do it Best, usually has teams making live presentations to the company’s employees. But this year, the pandemic required the event to be rescheduled and reformatted so the student competition could be completed virtually. The participating student teams created videos of their projects, which were sent to Do it Best employees who voted on the top project. Do it Best hosted a live online event on April 24 to celebrate the teams and announce the winning project.

Purdue University Fort Wayne seniors Sara Larson and Francisco Bolivar, both information technology majors in the School of Polytechnic, won the competition and a $1,000 prize for their project “Drone Scanning for Inventory Management.”

Larson said the goal of the project was to show Do it Best how using drone technology could improve its process and convey what the future of the supply chain could look like.

The project taught the team a few things, too. “We learned a lot about teamwork, communication, project management, and overcoming obstacles which has only made us grow into better students and IT professionals,” commented Larson. “We can’t thank Do it Best or Purdue Fort Wayne enough for this tremendous learning opportunity.”

Bolivar echoed Larson’s thoughts, saying, “Working with Do it Best was a great and valuable experience that we will continue to feed into future opportunities. We learned to work as a team and leaned on each other’s strengths.” He added, “We did experience some challenges and changes, but we chose to adapt and push forward. Our goal to complete this project was driven by determination and commitment towards the team and the end result.”

“Industry-led projects like this give our students the opportunity to develop their senior design projects in a real-world environment, work side by side with professionals, and learn valuable skills that can’t always be taught in the classroom,” said Michelle Parker, the team’s faculty advisor and clinical assistant professor of information technology at Purdue Fort Wayne. “Do it Best has been very generous in sponsoring this project and allowing their employees time to work with our students and help them develop their proof of concept design.”

Do it Best Vice President of IT John Mergy said the company greatly appreciates the relationship they have built with the university, as well as the value they get from the student projects. “Our team is continually impressed with the students’ creativity, innovation and results,” he noted. “This year was no exception. The students demonstrated their professionalism and determination working through such an exceptionally challenging time.”