Students compete on broadband expansion plans for NW Missouri

Winning team took home $3,000.

  • Published: Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022

MARYVILLE, Mo. – Three teams of University of Missouri System students competed to develop plans for supplying access to affordable high-speed internet to residents and businesses in northwestern Missouri.

In the Public-Private Partnership Broadband Business Plan Competition, students from backgrounds such as engineering, business, law and computer science used surveys, research and information from local stakeholders to develop private-public partnership (P3) business models.

The students shared their detailed plans with a panel of five judges before their public presentations at an Aug. 20 event in Maryville. Judges weighed each plan’s affordability, feasibility and sustainability, among other factors. The competition was the highlight of a community event sharing local and regional progress in expanding access to high-speed internet.

First place, with a $3,000 prize, went to the team of Daniel Foose, UMKC, law; Sofia Hadley, UMKC, law; and John Welch, UMKC, computer science. The winning team issued this statement:

“The Northwest Region of Missouri is currently experiencing an equity gap with respect to available high-speed broadband internet access. As a team, we are grateful to have participated alongside other teams, community leaders, and friends to help solve this problem. We hope this is only one of many successful stages in ensuring that Atchison, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway, and Worth counties have access to high-speed internet so these communities can experience equal footing for economic opportunity.”

Second place and a $1,500 prize went to the team of Ankit Agarwal, Missouri S&T, engineering management; Alasia Buschkopf, UMSL, computer science; Clifton Holly, UMKC, law; and Tara Ogoti, UMKC, electrical and computer engineering.

Third place and a $500 prize went to the team of Chandrashekar Akkenapally, Missouri S&T, computer science; Anna Heetmann, UMKC, law; Emilie Moyer, UMKC, business administration; Tarun Sai Naregudam, Missouri S&T, computer science; and Oluwatosin Waleola, Missouri S&T, information science and technology.

“The competition was a great opportunity to have a set of fresh eyes look at how we could fund broadband expansion in northwest Missouri and give young adults an opportunity to apply the concepts they are learning as they pursue their degrees,” said Kim Mildward, a competition judge and economic development planner with the Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments.

Anthony Luppino, a member of the UM System Broadband Initiative steering committee and director of entrepreneurship programs at the UMKC School of Law, came up with the competition idea last spring as a way to showcase the power of multidisciplinary collaborations among students and faculty across institutions.

“High-speed internet and affordable access to it is a tool,” Luppino said. “The outcomes are improved access to education, to health care, to economic development and to everyone being able to prosper in our economy.” He added that the competition “provided an opportunity for the students to demonstrate their knowledge, talents and teamwork in a service-learning experience focused on a critically important subject.”

Alison Copeland, UM System deputy chief engagement officer, noted that the competition “embodies the deep commitment of UM universities to work with communities to address challenges like broadband access, adoption and affordability.”

The event also featured presentations on UM System Broadband Initiative assets, including the Broadband Resource Rail and Digitally Connected Community Guide.

The judges were Kim Mildward, economic development planner, Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments; Hank Niederhelm, director of infrastructure, MOREnet; state Rep. Randy Railsback; Jeff Simon, managing partner–Kansas City office, Husch Blackwell; and B.J. Tanksley, director of broadband development, Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Event sponsors and contributors were H&R Block Foundation, which provided support for prizes and student travel; Northwest Regional Council of Governments; Northwest Missouri State University; University of Missouri System; University of Missouri Extension; the City of Maryville; and Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.

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Photo

https://extension.missouri.edu/media/wysiwyg/Extensiondata/NewsAdmin/Photos/2022/20220915-p3-1.jpg
From left, UMKC students John Welch, Sofia Hadley and Daniel Foose. Their proposal for expanding broadband access and adoption in northwestern Missouri took first place and a $3,000 prize in the Public-Private Partnership Broadband Business Plan Competition.

Writer: Katherine Foran

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