Preparation paid off for a team of East Carolina University engineering and technology students with a first-place finish at a national robot competition.

The members of the robotics team of the ECU chapter of the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) won four of five categories and the top overall prize for the first time at the competition at the ATMAE national conference Nov. 6-8 in Charlotte.

“We were super excited,” said junior Logan Kelley, ECU’s ATMAE president and co-lead of the robotics team with senior Sean Wear. “We finally got to see the results of all the hard work we all put in over the last nine months. We were overwhelmed with what we won. I don’t think we were expecting all that.”

The ECU team won awards for electronics and controls, and innovation and design. It won the timed warehouse competition in which the robot had to pick up objects of various shapes and weights and place them on shelves of various heights without running into simulated obstacles on the warehouse floor. The team also won the tag competition in which robots competed to capture flags placed on the machines of others. The team took second place in the fabrication and safety category.

For its victory, ECU’s name will be placed on the Steve Harris Cup, the permanent trophy of the ATMAE competition.

“I’m super proud of these students,” said William McClung, teaching instructor and faculty advisor for the robot team. “They did a really great job. It was their effort that made this possible. They worked on weekends and Friday afternoons after class and on Wednesday nights when they practiced. I think it proves that if they do the things we’re teaching them to do, it will go well.”

Beyond the competition, the conference offered networking opportunities for the students and presentations from industry leaders on a variety of engineering and technology topics.

Kelley said the team will be losing some valuable seniors to graduation and looks forward to building the ATMAE organization at ECU so it will continue to be competitive in the robot competition for years to come.

Beyond Kelley and Wear, the members of the team include Evan Blanton, Seth Pierce, Mason Caroon, Brandon Scott, Erica Walker, Harry Rossi, James Saiz, Jarod Palmer, Joseph Kradel, Kendal Bass, Lance Nygaard, Mark Edmundson, Matthew Cripe, Paul Hayes, Reuben Unicruz, Spencer Lee and Zachary Taylor. Amy Frank, teaching instructor in the Department of Technology Systems, serves as the faculty advisor for ECU’s ATMAE chapter.

Miller School of Entrepreneurship garners national ranking

The Miller School of Entrepreneurship in ECU’s College of Business (COB) made the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine list of Top 50 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship.

The Miller School is the only endowed school of entrepreneurship in North Carolina and ranks No. 47, marking its first appearance on the list. North Carolina State University is the only other university in the state on the list.

“We’ve accomplished so much in a short time,” said Dr. Mike Harris, director of the Miller School. “I’m proud for ECU, the College of Business, our faculty and staff, and most importantly, the students. I’m really excited about the entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s thriving in our community.”

The Miller School was established in 2015 thanks to a commitment of $5 million by CAPTRUST CEO Fielding Miller and his wife, Kim Grice Miller. It serves as a regional hub for preparing students to take an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset into their communities.

Since 2015, the Miller School has implemented numerous programs that have served as a catalyst for regional transformation.

In 2017, the Miller School kicked off the annual Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge , the signature business pitch competition for ECU student teams. Cash and prizes for the contest have grown from more than $15,000 in the first year to this year’s $100,000 purse. Past winners have created jobs and are experiencing more than $1 million in sales.

Additional multimillion dollar gifts have led to the establishment of the Van (’85) and Jennifer Isley Innovation Building that when completed will house the Miller School and provide space where any ECU student can collaborate on product innovation and entrepreneurship. The Crisp Small Business Resource Center opened earlier this year and will provide access to best practices and proven knowledge for ECU students and area entrepreneurs who plan to start or sustain enterprises in eastern North Carolina. The center was made possible thanks to a gift from Matt (’93) and Kim Crisp.

ECU ranked on the Princeton Review’s Best 385 Colleges, Best Southeastern Colleges and Green Colleges 2019 lists.

Princeton Review tallied the 2020 lists based on a 2019 survey of administrators from 300 schools with offerings in entrepreneurship studies. More than 40 data points were analyzed for the ranking list tallies. Topics on the 60-question survey included: the percentage of faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors; the number and reach of mentorship programs, scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies; and the level of support for school-sponsored business plan competitions.

ECU alumna Beth Grant channels her inner cat lady

Actress Beth Grant has enjoyed impressive longevity in her Hollywood career, with appearances in more than 100 movies and TV shows. You’ll know her as nurse Beverly in “The Mindy Project,” Gracie Leigh in “Jericho,” the uppity pageant official in “Little Miss Sunshine” and Dwight’s date/babysitter in the dinner party episode of “The Office.” She also appeared in three Oscar-winning movies: “Rain Man,” “No Country for Old Men” and “The Artist.”

Grant, who received a degree in theatre arts from ECU in 1972, calls Wilmington her hometown and Greenville her “second hometown.”

“I have wonderful memories about ECU and about Greenville itself,” she said.

Her latest TV role is one of her strangest: a cat lady (literally) on Hulu’s new series “Dollface.” The show, released on the streaming platform in November, stars Kat Jennings (“2 Broke Girls”) as Jules, a woman recently dumped by her boyfriend who is trying to rekindle her female friendships. Grant plays an anthropomorphic cat that serves as a spirit guide of sorts to Jules.

For the full interview with Grant visit the ECU Now blog.

Contact jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.