CEE Entrepreneurial Impact Competition

Students gather around a laptop working on a project.

About the Competition

The Entrepreneurial Impact Competition provides students with a hands-on opportunity to apply their civil and environmental engineering knowledge outside the classroom by creating innovative concepts to improve the human condition—and potentially win a $5,000 prize.

Established in 2021, the competition is open to individuals or teams of students at both the undergraduate and graduate level who compete for a chance to win by conceptualizing entrepreneurial ventures that may help fellow students at Georgia Tech, create positive change for the local Atlanta community or impact society more broadly.

After assessing all submissions, a panel of judges will select the finalists to participate in a live competition. During the final competition, each team or individual will present their idea to the panel of judges, who will deliberate and select the top two proposals to win the Higginbotham Entrepreneurship Award and the Zeitlin Innovation Award.

Key Dates for the 2022 Entrepreneurial Impact Competition

  • The deadline for submissions is Monday, December 13, 2021 
  • Finalists will be announced on Friday, January 14, 2022
  • The final competition will take place on Friday, January 28, 2022 |

RSVP to attend virtual event

Learn more about the finalists

Student presenting their idea at the Create-X competition

About the Prizes

The Zeitlin Innovation Award rewards individuals and teams for their creativity and innovation, emphasizing the potential of their projects and ideas to improve the human condition. The winner of this award will be recognized for the merits of their concept at any stage of development. 

The Higginbotham Entrepreneurship Award rewards individuals and teams for innovative ideas and recognizes the relative maturity of their efforts. Winners will have identified and tailored their concept to specific end-users with an emphasis on bringing their concept to market.


Judging Criteria

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 proposal. The presentations will be evaluated on the five criteria outlined below:

  • 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?

The five judging criteria will be used for both the Higginbotham Entrepreneurial Impact Prize and the Zeitlin Innovation Prize. Demand and probability of becoming a successful endeavor will be weighted higher for the Higginbotham Entrepreneurial Impact Prize, while innovativeness and creativity of the project will be weighted higher for the Zeitlin Innovation Award.


Arjun Bir, CE 18
Arjun Bir, CE 18
Bir is a building envelope and structural forensics engineer specializing in the design, investigation and rehabilitation of structures and building enclosures. He also has extensive experience designing low-cost water treatment devices, tests, and software platforms aimed at sparking behavior change and broadening access to clean drinking water in the developing world.
Darion Dunn
Darion Dunn, CE 00
Dunn is a real estate investor and founding partner of Atlantica Properties. As a Professional Engineer and community leader, Dunn brings a unique perspective to multi-family housing. He strongly believes that everyone profits when communities adopt a thoughtful, inclusive approach to real estate development.
David Frost
J. David Frost, Ph.D, P.E, P.Eng, F.ASCE
Frost has a range of startup experiences involving university campuses, academic programs and technology companies. Frost has been a founding partner in two software companies that leverage mobile, web- and cloud-based applications to acquire and manage engineering data. Frost serves as the Elizabeth and David Higginbotham Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering..
Lorraine Greene
Lorraine Greene, ChBE 84, MS EnvE 93
Greene is a Professional Engineer with more than 35 years of experience leading design teams in creating new and adaptive real-world solutions to the built environment. As a leader in the Architecture/ Engineering/Construction industry, Greene has a unique perspective on the future of sustainability and resiliency needs across various environments.
Lisa Rosenstein
Lisa Rosenstein, Ph.D.
Rosenstein is the creator and director of the Charles E. Gearing Program in Engineering Communication, which integrates instruction on written, visual and oral communication into the engineering curriculum. She has decades of experience teaching engineering students how to effectively present their ideas in technical documents, fellowship applications, journal articles, conference presentations and more.

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.

Student presenting their idea at the Create-X competition

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.

The application requires an Entrepreneurial Impact and Innovation Statement – are there any specific requirements for the statement?
Yes. The proposal should be 3 pages maximum, single-spaced and saved as a PDF. If you have further questions, please contact Adjo Amekudzi-Kennedy.