Challenge gives students chance to turn dream into reality

February 17, 2010

Arizona State University graduate Sean Coleman recently quit his full-time job to dedicate himself to a different kind of career – one where his passion can come to life and he can see the immediate impact he’s making on ASU students and the community.

“People thought I was crazy at first, and my dad wasn’t initially happy,” Coleman said, “but I just believe so strongly in what I’m doing. It’s really exciting!” Download Full Image

And what is it Coleman is so excited about? Running his own venture, OrangeSlyce">">OrangeSlyce, a company that’s already grown substantially since its Nov. 9 launch.

To help get his business idea started in 2008, Coleman applied for and received a $2,000 Entrepreneur Advantage Project (EAP) grant. Since the program began in 2007, over 75 EAP grants have been awarded to ASU students. The EAP is one of many ways that ASU supports student innovation and entrepreneurship.

This spring, ASU announced an exciting, new funding opportunity for students with innovative ideas. The inaugural ASU Innovation Challenge presents four ways for students to transform their ideas to impact. Prizes for the Challenge range from textbooks and computer equipment to $2,000 to $20,000 in funding (plus mentoring and office space).

“Not all students can take the steps that Sean did to follow their passion, but they don’t necessarily have to,” said Sara Christenson, coordinator of student entrepreneurship. “The Innovation Challenge allows students to pursue their academic and professional interests while applying their skills and passions to real-world problems.”

Students who have an innovative idea for a project, venture or community partnership, or who are simply looking for ways to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation, are encouraged to participate. Undergraduate and graduate students may apply, and there also is a competition that newly admitted students can engage in.

The four tracks of the Challenge include the Challenges Innovator, Edson Venture Creator, Community Changemaker and Innovation Explorer competitions. Students may enter multiple competitions simultaneously, and majors of all disciplines are encouraged to participate.

“We’re counting on faculty and staff to help us spread the word to their students about this unique opportunity,” Christenson said. “Some are really taking that to heart.”

Executive Director of ASU’s Global Resolve, Mark Henderson, is encouraging his class to participate and invited Innovation Challenge representatives to speak to his students. Sidnee Peck, leader of the My Life Venture entrepreneurship certificate program, is asking her students to attend five Innovation Challenge events over the course of the semester.

More information about the Innovation Challenge is available at">">, including a list of events. Among these events are workshops designed to help students prepare high-quality applications. Sample sessions include those on identifying local and/or global needs, proposal writing, intellectual property policy and business entity formation.

To give students an opportunity to enhance their pitching skills, the Entrepreneurs@ASU student organization is hosting an Elevator Pitch Competition Feb. 25, in the ASU Memorial Union, Tempe campus. First prize is a $150 cash award, and second prize is admission to networking and professional development events for entrepreneurs, sponsored by the Arizona Integrated Marketing Association (AZIMA).

"We're dedicated to helping students make connections and gain the skill sets they need to submit winning Innovation Challenge applications as well as become successful entrepreneurs," said Tyler Metcalf, co-president of Entrepreneurs@ASU. Details about the event can be found at


Ap... for the Challenges Innovator, Edson Student Venture Creator and Community Changemaker competitions are due March 26. Qualifying competition entrants will participate in events on April 16, World Entrepreneurship Day. A host of additional activities will be planned to celebrate the occasion. Winners will be announced at the end of April.

Engaging in the ASU Innovation Challenge prepares students for their professional and academic futures by providing an opportunity for them to practice their skills in teamwork, leadership, project development, business plan creation, public speaking and network creation. Students will also become prepared to enter into additional competitions for business plans and innovative projects.

Questions regarding the ASU Innovation Challenge should be directed to">

Lisa Robbins

Editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Docent really 'digs' archaeology

February 17, 2010

Shelley Rasmussen drives 50 miles each way for her one-day-a-week job – and she gets no pay.

But she wouldn’t trade her commute for anything. She’s doing what she loves most: helping people learn more about archaeology. Download Full Image

Rasmussen, a Wickenburg resident, is a docent at ASU’s Deer Valley Rock Art Center. She drives to the DVRAC every Tuesday to lead tours or do whatever else comes along.

It truly is a labor of love for Rasmussen, who says she is an “avocational archaeologist.”

Her relationship with DVRAC is not a new one, however. She was keeping watch over the site even before there was a DVRAC as a site steward for Arizona Historic Preservation.

“When I heard it was going to become rock art center I went to Peter Welsh (the first director) and asked if he would need docents. I wanted to help out if I could.”

Rasmussen says rock art is one of her passions. “I don’t have a degree. What got me interested in archaeology was working with Pueblo Grande Museum. I was trained there to be a docent – I did tours and archaeology hikes for them for many years.”

Rasmussen’s car could, perhaps, navigate its own way down Deer Valley Road. “The DVRAC is like home because I’ve been there so long,” Rasmussen said. “It’s something very special. It’s one of the major archeological sites that hasn’t been impacted by growth and development.

“It’ a way of preserving a very important part of the past. Actually there were three prehistoric cultures there. The rock art tell us that – there are 3 three different styles there.”

Though Rasmussen is thrilled that the rock art at Hedgpeth Hills is safe, she has a broader dream. “I would like to save every archeological site in the world. It’s a great loss to see houses constructed on any land that might have archaeological information. We always learn more about prehistoric cultures when any excavation is going on. We never stop learning.”

One way to save the past is to give it to the future. For Rasmussen, that means teaching the younger generations about rock art and its significance.

“It’s the children,” she said. “I love working with the children, helping them learn respect for these archaeological sites.”