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Lone Star College student wins U.S. Department of Education Challenge

HOUSTON (June 21, 2012) An entry submitted by a Lone Star College System student has been selected as a division winner in a national U.S. Department of Education contest.

Lone Star College-University Park student Haley Barnett’s entry in the National Education Startup Challenge was chosen as winner in the undergraduate division by Challenge.gov. She was one of eight winners selected from hundreds of entries from around the country.

Barnett is a first-year student and currently serves as president of the student government association at LSC-University Park.

The National Education Startup Challenge is part of the Startup America program from the U.S. Department of Education.  The challenge was for students to develop an innovative solution to an education problem and design a blueprint for a new company or nonprofit organization — a startup — to deliver it.

Barnett submitted the Educational Positioning System in the Challenge.gov contest. 

The EPS idea has been advanced in educational and technology forums for several months, including the EDUCAUSE conference and the IMS Global Learning Consortium. 

Challenge competition adviser at LSCS, Michael Mathews, chief strategist for innovation and entrepreneurship at LSC-University Park, has been a national voice and proponent of the concept and coached Barnett as she produced the winning entry.

Barnett took the EPS concept and edited the idea from a student perspective to refine the business plan and focus it on how students could benefit from data ownership.

“I am overjoyed at the thought of this awesome concept being recognized as a way to improve the educational journey of American students,” said Barnett. “When Mr. Mathews approached me with the concept, I began envisioning elementary students reviewing their EPS devices with their parents, mapping out the next years of their lives, and making informed decisions based on their own education data.”

The Educational Positioning System would be designed to help students access and navigate their own transcripts, standardized test scores and more data related to education. The EPS captures student data on their educational journey. The student will then be able to look over that data and choose exactly what path will work best for them as they prepare for and complete their college education. It will give students the informed choices in a graphic manner well before deciding on what college to attend. It puts the ‘ownership’ of student data in the hands of the student.

LSC-University Park encourages students to generate new ideas and use creativity to help bring innovative ideas to life at the campus level. In line with the innovation mission of LSC-University Park, a Student Innovation Day was held in April to promote ideas to solve four U.S. Department of Educational challenges.

A total of 70 LSC-University Park students signed up to hear about creative and innovative projects that may qualify as submissions for the contest entry into the National Education Startup Challenge. Of those 70, six ideas came forward as being potential winners.  A faculty panel vetted the ideas and narrowed the suggested innovations down to three total LSC-University Park submissions. Those students worked with mentors and advisors to shape the ideas that finally were entered into the contest. 

“Watching the innovators of tomorrow get excited about ideas coming to life is very satisfying to me,” said Mathews.

Mathews also said that LSC-University Park has been designed as a center for innovative partnerships between education, business and industry and the community. 

LSC-University Park’s CEO Shah Ardalan has in place a standing “Invitation to Innovate” (I2I) for students, as well as faculty and staff members.

“LSC-University Park is designed to be the leading model of “innovative colleges” designed for the 21st century by redefining comprehensive and affordable access to quality education through partnerships, entrepreneurship, and community enrichment,” Ardalan said. “We encourage and facilitate unique partnerships with four year universities and businesses alike.”

The U.S. Department of Education reported that more than 400 submissions from around the country were submitted. Each entry was scored on opportunity, business description, innovation, marketing plan, financial plan and 60-second video pitch. From there, 38 finalists were named and then narrowed down to the final eight winners who were chosen by a panel of prominent educators and entrepreneurs. The winners represented several categories or levels of competition from middle school to graduate school. Barnett’s entry won the undergraduate division.

To see the 60 second video entry as part of the submission visit YouTube.com/LoneStarCollege

The winning students will be celebratedby senior White House and the U.S. Department of Education at a future date.

To find out more about The National Education Startup Challenge visit nesc.challege.gov.

With 75,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, five centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.