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For Immediate Release
July 22, 2020

Purdue Fort Wayne students take part in state-wide summer competition

Key Info

  • S.O.S. Challenge for 500 Indiana college students
  • TechPoint program offered alternative to cancelled internships
  • Participants tasked to design and promote solutions to problems related to COVID-19
  • Winners to be announced July 31

Due to inaccurate information provided to Purdue University Fort Wayne, the name of Crosby Bingaman, a senior majoring in physics, was inadvertently left off the list of participating students.

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Unexpected consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to catch college students by surprise as their school year neared completion this spring. Summer internships some had counted on, not only for the experience but also for income, were being cancelled right and left.

For 500 college students in Indiana, including eight students from Purdue University Fort Wayne, all was not lost, as they discovered and applied for Summer Opportunities for Students, or S.O.S., a competition presented by TechPoint. The nonprofit organization, based in Indianapolis, is an industry-led growth accelerator for the state’s tech companies.

The competition revolves around nine challenge topics that task the teams to find ways to solve pandemic-related problems:

  • COVID-19 Outbreak Detection
  • Telehealth
  • Sports and Entertainment
  • Work from Home
  • Transportation
  • Restaurants and Small Businesses
  • Tourism
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Community-Based Nonprofits

“Teams were 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,” explained Cheryl Reed, TechPoint’s media relations manager. “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 Gov. Eric Holcomb, who will select the winning entry.” The recorded presentations for each of the teams are to be turned in by Friday, with the winners revealed July 31.

One of the Purdue Fort Wayne students taking part in the competition is John Kaufeld, a computer science graduate student. He says they all applied individually, and TechPoint assigned them to teams based on which of the challenges caught their interest.

“My team (Schools and Colleges #5) has five students from Purdue Fort Wayne, Purdue West Lafayette, Indiana University-Bloomington, Butler University, and Ivy Tech Community College. We’re paired with mentor-company Dewpoint, a Michigan-based technology consulting firm with offices in Indianapolis,” said Kaufeld.

The team split into two groups: the Go Squad and the Pro Squad. The Go Squad created the project vision, features, and business plan, while the Pro Squad crafted the product itself.

"Our project focuses on improving the online learning experience. There’s an old saying in teaching that ‘The best way to learn something is to teach it,’ so we’re creating a tool that helps teachers implement that concept in an online classroom,” noted Kaufeld. “The idea grew out of interviews we did with fellow college students and teachers at the high school and college level about their online education experience."

TechPoint initiated the S.O.S. Challenge to accomplish two things: “We wanted to throw out a rescue line to those who were counting on the experience to help them decide/further their chosen careers,” said Reed, “and also to be part of the pandemic solution by challenging talented young people and pairing them with experienced tech veterans.”

Besides learning to work remotely with people he didn’t know, Kaufeld says he learned a lot more through this experience than he expected.

“The experience itself has been great, but the best part is the professional development training that TechPoint created for the participants,” he said. “They also had everyone take the Predictive Index assessment, then did a presentation on what the assessment means and how to use it. That was truly a WOW moment for me.”

The other Purdue Fort Wayne students taking part in the challenge are:

  • An Le Thuy Nguyen, accounting
  • Logan Vinson, finance
  • Daniele Pieve, marketing
  • Kevin Daily, computer science
  • Clarice Rorick, graphic design
  • Nathaniel Dray, business management
  • Joseph Bramer, business management

For more information on the student experience, contact John Kaufeld at or 260-341-1711.

For more information on the challenge and TechPoint, contact Cheryl Reed at or 317-446-5240.