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Tech Governors School Goes Virtual

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

Students from across the state will gather virtually Monday at Tennessee Tech.

The Governor’s School for Business, Innovation and Technology goes online this year for the first time. Dr. Susan Wells will introduce this year’s program to some 30 high school students this morning.

“Normally, Sunday, my staff and I would have been welcoming 30 rising juniors and seniors in high school from across the state of Tennessee to Tennessee Tech,” Wells said. “They’d be moving in the dorms. We’d be meeting their parents. And they would be staying with us for a couple of months. And instead of greeting them on Sunday, we will be greeting them via Microsoft Monday morning in a virtual classroom. So it’s going to be very, very different this year.”

The Governors School at Tennessee Tech gives students a sort of “Shark Tank” type of environment where they think about things in the everyday world that could be innovated. Wells said the students must then go to work on every aspect of the idea.

“They develop a feasible, plausible, new, innovative product,” Wells said. “They have to write a business plan for it, they have to market it, set prices, the whole nine yards. And then they’re judged.”

Past ideas included am eraseable highlighter, smart window tinting, and a storage system similar to the cloud. Students work with mentors in the local community, Wells said, to help them develop their ideas.

“One of the things that I teach, but I always say to my students, I say everybody tells you to think outside the box,” Wells said. “My question is, who put you in a box? So we really push the innovation. And this time, you know. I’m excited to see what they’ll come up with.”

Governor’s School also may be the first introduction for some students as to what a college campus is like. For some, it may be the first night they have ever spent in a college dorm. Wells said she and her team still wanted to find some creative ways to bring students that college experience.

“My staff and I are going to have some two-to-three nights a week with some fun activities so they don’t miss out,” Wells said. “They don’t just get the academic part. They’ll get some of the fun part too.”

Wells said she never had a thought of postponing Governors School because she did not want the rising senior class to miss out. The program started 21 years ago. Tech has hosted 11 Governors Schools.


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