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Sparta Resident Wins UTK Business Competition

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Sparta Resident Wins UTK Business Competition

A University of Tennessee student from Sparta finished first place in a university business competition for an innovative school bus application.

Junior business management major Heidi Whitaker’s School Bus User System was the winning pitch. Whitaker said the app has two purposes with the first being efficiency.

“The premise is a software program that would go on a tablet for public school buses to take attendance so that bus drivers know who is on the bus, and the fastest route is generated,” Whitaker said. “That way there is less gas being used, so it is more cost efficient.”

Whitaker said the app also fixes the problem of children waiting outdoors for a bus arrival. Buses can be tracked by parents and students for estimated arrival times.

“Another big problem is kids are having to wait outside in cold weather, super hot weather, rain, snow,” Whitaker said. “Buses aren’t super reliable as of when they get to your house. Some have like a 30 minute time frame, and this would also have an app for parents and students that would let these students know when they are the next stop and see where the bus is.”

Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business hosted the pitch contest named the 2020 Graves Business Plan Competition. The system won $5,000, which Whitaker said is being saved for future app developments after graduation.

“I will also be looking at patents, as well,” Whitaker said. “Some of it will be used towards that when we are able to figure out and really narrow down what patent we need to really secure our place in the market.”

Whitaker said the idea for the app first came along while she was in high school. Whitaker’s brother fell asleep on a bus, and her mother had no way to find his location. Whitaker said afterwards, she brainstormed with a school group to answer that need.


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