CEE Entrepreneurial Impact Competition

Students gather around a laptop working on a project.

The Entrepreneurial Impact Competition aims to boost the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship among civil and environmental engineering students.

The competition is open to individuals or teams of students at both the undergraduate and graduate level who apply their CEE knowledge and skills to develop entrepreneurial ideas to improve the human condition. Contestants compete for a chance to win by conceptualizing entrepreneurial ventures that may help fellow students at Georgia Tech, improve conditions for the Atlanta community and/or impact society more broadly.

The final round of competition will take place on Friday, January 28, 2022. During the live competition, each team or individual will present their idea to the panel of judges. After all the presentations are complete, the judges will deliberate and then identify the top two proposals that will win the $5,000 prizes sponsored by two generous donors, Bill Higginbotham and the Zeitlin Family.

Each finalist will give a five-minute verbal pitch of their project to the expert judges and a live audience, followed by up to 10 minutes of Q&A. Each individual or group will be allowed up to two slides to effectively illustrate their idea/proposal. The presentations will be evaluated on the five criteria outlined below:


Student presenting their idea at the Create-X competition

Judging Criteria

Preliminary round judges and the four-judge panel in the final round will have expertise in engineering and business. The criteria used by these expert judges in their evaluation are:

  • Innovation. Is the idea novel? How does it compare to other ideas that address the same problem?

  • Demand. Is there a demand for the invention? Are people likely to use it?

  • Impact. How big is the potential impact of the invention?  (i.e., How many people, communities, etc., are likely to use it?)

  • Inventor Passion. How passionate is the inventor or team about the idea?

  • Probability of Becoming a Successful Endeavor. Would someone invest in helping make the invention a reality?



Leonidas Emmenegger
Leonidas Emmenegger, Ph.D. CE 20
Dr. Leonidas Emmenegger is a Fall graduate of the Ph.D. program in Civil Engineering with a certificate in engineering entrepreneurship. As an inventor on a patent he brings experience in intellectual property development and commercialization.
Kendell Renee Kelly
Kendell Renee Kelly, CE 01
Lifestyle LawyerTM
Kendell Renee Kelly is a Lifestyle LawyerTM and strategist specializing in the intellectual property, business, sports and entertainment industries. Her practice focuses on counseling private and corporate clients in set-up, protection, strategic planning, monetization and liquidation of intellectual property assets.
David Frost
J. David Frost, Ph.D, P.E, P.Eng, F.ASCE
Elizabeth and Bill Higginbotham Professor
Frost has a range of start-up experiences involving university campuses, academic programs and technology companies. He has been a founding partner in two software companies that leverage mobile, web and cloud based applications to acquire and manage engineering data.
KP Reddy
KP Reddy, CE 94
Civil Engineer, Entrepreneur and Investor
KP Reddy is a globally recognized authority in the built environment, AI, robotics, automation, collaborative communication, mobile applications, and cloud computing. Over 25+ years he has been a technologist, subject matter expert, founder, CEO, advisor, investor, professor, author and coach.  
Lisa Rosenstein
Lisa Rosenstein, Ph.D.
Director, Charles E. Gearing Program in Engineering Communications
As the Director of the Charles E. Gearing Program in Engineering Communication for CEE, Dr. Lisa Rosenstein brings her expertise in written, visual and oral communication to the judging panel.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can a graduate student compete either individually or as part of a team with undergraduates?

Yes. The competition is open to current Georgia Tech undergraduates and graduate students within the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. You are eligible to compete if you will be a current student in fall or spring of the current academic year.

Can I do anything I wish with the cash prize?
Yes. You can invest in your invention, or use the prize money for tuition, study abroad, or general expenses.

Can I enter with multiple inventions?
No. Only one invention per student is allowed, regardless of team or individual status.

Do I have to have a working prototype to compete?
No, a prototype is not necessary to compete. A good idea that can be explained is all that is needed, though prototypes would be welcome!

I came up with an idea while employed as a co-op/intern. Can I submit this invention?
Yes, so long as your co-op/intern research advisor approves of you submitting the work as your own.

If I am a co-inventor with others who are not current Georgia Tech students or are non-CEE students, can I still compete with the invention?
Yes, if you fully disclose the contributions by all individuals in your proposal.

If I was being paid as an undergraduate researcher when I came up with an idea related to my research, can I still enter the Higginbotham Entrepreneurial Impact Prize?
Yes, so long as your research advisor approves of you submitting the work as your own.

I developed my idea as part of a class project. Can I submit this idea?
Yes. If this was a group project, we encourage you to submit as a team.

About Bill Higginbotham

Bill Higginbotham, CE 76

The Higginbotham Entrepreneurial Impact Prize was established through a generous gift by Bill Higginbotham, CE 76. Higginbotham is President and CEO of ET Environmental Corporation and has more than 38 years of engineering, environmental, energy management and construction experience. Higginbotham believes great things happen at the intersection of engineering and entrepreneurship. As a serial entrepreneur himself, he has started over 13 businesses focused on geotechnical consulting, energy and environmental management, construction, and venture capital. He hopes that the Higginbotham Entrepreneurial Impact Prize will help spark the entrepreneurial spirit in future Georgia Tech civil and environmental engineering graduates.

About The Zeitlin Family

Alan G. and Phyllis C. Zeitlin

The Zeitlin Prize is named in honor of Phyllis C. Zeitlin and Alan G. Zeitlin, CE 62. It was created to recognize the profound impact that Georgia Tech and the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering had on Alan G. Zeitlin, both in launching his successful entrepreneurial career in construction and real estate, as well as shaping the young man who became a wonderful husband and father of four children. Alan Zeitlin's time and education at Georgia Tech was truly a seminal and transformational period in his life not only for his career but presenting the fortuitous opportunity to meet his future wife, Phyllis C. Zeitlin. They married and settled down in Atlanta to raise their family shortly after Alan Zeitlin graduated from Georgia Tech in 1962.