By Hazel Scott/ASU
It was tough and competitive, but an Alabama State University team of seven came out on top at the HBCU Battle of the Brains competition, becoming the last HBCU standing amid 35 other institutions during the 6th annual contest, March 8-12 in Austin, Texas.
The team not only won bragging rights, but they also brought home $50,000 as first-place winners. The second-place winner was Fisk University, who were champs last year, with Norfolk State University placing third.
The seven students representing Alabama State at the competition were Tre’Von Connor, finance, junior (team captain); Dylan Stallworth, accounting, senior; Devian Stallworth, finance, freshman; Michael Stallworth Jr., accounting, sophomore; Samuel Hailemichael, computer science, graduating senior; Orjul Pogue, mathematics, graduate student; and Javaughn George, computer science, junior.
“This is the first time that Alabama State University has won this competition. So, I was happy, excited and overwhelmed by the experience that we won. We were elated to represent ASU,” Hailemichael said.
Dr. Michelle J. Foster, the group’s advisor and the associate dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, said ASU’s 2024 HBCU Battle of the Brains team was humble, prepared, and confident.
“I am extremely proud of them! This team demonstrates that we truly have the best students and academic programs,” said Foster.
Sponsored by the National Football League, the competition pits teams of the best and brightest STEM and Business students from HBCUs across the country against each other. They have 24 hours to develop a solution to a proposed business challenge and make their pitch to a panel of industry-leading judges. This year’s challenge was to improve NFL Fan Engagement using exclusive Next-Gen Sideline Operations.
Foster said the team was judged on analysis, a business/technology solution, a presentation and Q&A.
“The top seven schools were invited to pitch their solutions. Four of our team members participated in the pitch, led by Tre’von Conner and Dylan Stallworth. The entire team participated in preparing the deliverables and technology solutions,” Foster added.
Hailemichael said before the competition, the team worked hard. “We were confident that we were going to get into the top seven to pitch our project.”
All student team members also participated in company tours and workshops to expand their skill sets and engage with corporate representatives and other students on a wide range of topics in panel discussions.
“They participated in a service project to provide packages for disadvantaged children and attended a career fair and hiring event hosted by the corporate sponsors,” Foster said.
Foster acknowledged the unwavering support of ASU President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., and the Provost and vice president of Academic Affair Dr. Carl S. Pettis.
“Without their support, we would not be able to provide this opportunity for our students,” Foster said.
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