Challenge capped off with presentations to Governor Eric Holcomb

Thousands of college students across the U.S. have lost on-site summer internships due to COVID-19, but 500 Indiana students are getting a lifeline thanks to a new TechPoint program that begins June 15, and poses a real-world challenge to solve.

The Summer Opportunities for Students (S.O.S.) Challenge will provide $250,000 in stipends and 5-weeks of work experience to 500 students from Indiana colleges and universities who have been displaced from planned internships. Students will work in teams on a COVID-related challenge. Students who complete the program will receive $500 each in addition to the chance at a $25,000 prize purse and virtual presentations to Governor Eric Holcomb and Indiana tech sector leaders.

“We couldn’t stand by and just let students fall through the cracks or allow our tech employers’ talent pipelines to dry up,” said Mike Langellier, TechPoint president and CEO. “TechPoint is uniquely suited to do something here so we committed to not only serving students in our Xtern program but to help as many others as we could.”

Students must apply here by June 1 to be considered for the Challenge, which begins June 15 and ends July 17.

S.O.S. is more than a challenge

The S.O.S. Challenge is a new component within TechPoint’s suite of  talent-focused offerings, which is headlined by its  Xtern program In addition to the challenge project work, S.O.S. participants will meet virtually with Indiana tech leaders, get a virtual introduction to Indianapolis and engage in professional development experiences that prepare them to land a job in the future. 

For the project, student teams will be assigned “coaches” from a pool of 200 volunteers from the Indiana tech community. Nine real-world, COVID-19 related challenge topics have been identified, including workplace and work-from-home environments, telehealth, restaurants & small businesses, sports and entertainment events, e-learning, schools, community-based organizations, tourism, and transportation. Teams will choose a challenge category and will learn about the focus areas from subject matter experts, in addition to doing their own research.

Teams will be asked to prepare a product prototype and go-to-market plan that can help address solutions to COVID-related problems or that can create new opportunities. These products will be presented virtually to a TechPoint panel of judges.

From each of the nine challenge topics a winning team will be chosen to receive $2,500 per team. Three teams will be selected to present to Governor Eric Holcomb. Additionally, one team will win the $2,500 “fan favorite” award for most public votes.

Governor Eric Holcomb will select a winner from that group. Winners will be announced by August 15.

The S.O.S. Challenge welcomes undergrad, graduate, or doctoral students. Preference will be given to TechPoint’s member universities that are helping identify participants.

More than 50 tech employers signed up to provide coaches and assist TechPoint’s efforts to help displaced summer interns, including Allegion, Angie’s List, Appirio, Atrium, Authenticx, Baker Hill, Brite Systems, Carbonite, Centric Consulting, Cisco, ClearObject, CNO Financial Group, Codelicious, Comcast Business, Cummins, Delta Faucet Company, DemandJump, DewPoint, Dynatrace, EduSource, Eli Lilly and Company, Emplify, Fineline Printing Group, Genesys, Google, High Alpha, Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, Infosys, JobVite, KAR Global, Kinney Group, Lena Works, Lev, MetaCX, NextGear Capital, Olio, One Click Ventures, OneCause, Ontario Systems, Peoplocity, PFL, Polis Center, Pondurance, Qumulex, Rocketbuild, Salesforce, SEP, Springbuk, Stanley Security, T2 Systems, Twilio, U.Group, Upper Hand and Verizon Wireless.

Governor Holcomb, who was honored with TechPoint’s 2019 Mira Trailblazer award for his support of the tech sector, was quick to agree to review the Challenge projects.

“This is a fantastic idea, and I can’t wait to see what solutions this next generation talent comes up with,” Governor Holcomb said. “The S.O.S. Challenge is a tangible example of what makes this state’s tech community so special and why Indiana is the place to be if you want to start or grow a tech company.”

“The S.O.S. Challenge may be the only large-scale effort of its kind to help address the massive loss of summer internships across the country due to the pandemic,” said Merillat Flowers, TechPoint’s Senior Director of Talent Programs & Team Development. “We’re grateful to all the companies, to Lilly Endowment, which is funding the effort, and all the people joining in to support these students.”