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Student Bragging Rights: Forty Acres Scholars, Entrepreneur Fellows, and More

Texas mascot showing the hook 'em horns hand sign

As the spring semester ended in May, students at the McCombs School of Business finished out the year strong. In this edition of Bragging Rights, we recognize our incoming Forty Acres Scholars, Summer Entrepreneur Fellows, a critical language scholarship recipient, and a Shell Ideas360 competition winner.

Forty Acres Scholars

Headshots of Forty Acres Scholars

Six incoming freshman were named Forty Acres Scholars for the 2017-2018 academic year: BBA '21 students Ricky Cooks, Carlyn Crow, Joshua De Anda, Ashley Deutser, John McDonald, and Ronen Melloul. The Forty Acres Scholars Program is a full-ride, merit-based scholarship supplemented with academic, leadership, and cultural opportunities.

The selected students include a concertmaster, National Merit scholar, and Chevron Enrichment Award recipient to student government leaders, AP Scholars, and newspaper editors.

2017 MBA McCombs Summer Entrepreneur Fellows

Tyler Bambrick (left) and Nick Hermandorfer, MBA '16 in front of Wrigley Field

Tyler Bambrick, Houston MBA '18, and his company, Home Run Dug Out, hit a grand slam with the McCombs Summer Entrepreneur Fellowship, winning first place and a $5,000 award for his business concept. Home Run is a sports venue where people can play baseball batting games on the latest entertainment technology.

The fellowship provides financial assistance, co-working office space for the summer, and mentorship from a McCombs faculty member. "Knowing that the McCombs School of Business supports our mission to make America's pastime more accessible and entertaining for people of all ages and skill levels was an award in itself," says Bambrick. 

Additionally, Bhavnesh Patel, Texas Executive MBA '18, impressed the judging committee with his company, Volt480, which uses machine-learning technology to help manufacturers reduce downtime. Patel earned second place and took home $3,500.

"Winning the MBA McCombs Entrepreneur Summer Fellowship was great encouragement for me to continue dedicating my efforts to my startup," says Patel. "Between the financial assistance, co-working space, and mentorship, it was exactly what I needed to help me take my idea and begin the process of starting a business."

Critical Language Scholarship

The U.S. Department of State selected Neil Patel, BBA '19, and nine other students from The University of Texas at Austin to participate in its international exchange program. Chosen students are sent abroad on fully funded trips during the summer to study critical languages and strengthen U.S. international relations.

Patel is headed to Tanzania, where he will be studying Swahili and entrepreneurship. "I was super excited to get the scholarship. I will get to spend two months in a fully immersive environment," says Patel.

As part of his trip, Patel will participate in cultural and diplomatic events.

First Place and Audience Choice Award

Left to Right: Mandeep Patel, Malvika Gupta, and Taylor Zhao

A team composed of Taylor Zhao, BBA '18, and two UT engineering students won first place and the audience choice award at the 2017 Shell Ideas360 Competition in London, beating 750 entries from more than 144 countries. Students were tasked with developing innovative solutions to the world’s food, water, and energy challenges.

Their winning proposal detailed a way to reshape memory alloy into springs that can stretch when cool, allowing solar panels to move back and forth to track the sun. Besides increasing energy output, it also has the potential to make solar energy more affordable.

"Shell Ideas360 was a phenomenal platform for my team to develop our idea and helped us think about the challenges of getting this technology into market," says Zhao. "It was the perfect ecosystem for us to grow and learn."

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