SC State Holmes won first place in the Stanley Black & Decker Innovation Challenge | So Good News
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Kenard Holmes, a sophomore business administration major, recently returned from a trip to Chicago to the campus of South Carolina State University with a large check.
The Beaufort resident was part of the 1st place team in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 2022 Stanley Black & Decker Innovation Challenge, which received a $10,000 prize. As one of four students on the team, he received $2,500.
On October 20-23, Holmes and other students from other black colleges and universities and predominantly black institutions gathered in Chicago to address real business problems and present innovative solutions to expert judges.
“I think representation is so important, not just from an HBCU or being African-American,” Holmes said. “When I go out to these places, I represent my family (and) my university. I represent a lot of people when I go to these things, so it’s really an honor and a privilege and I want to continue to represent my university.”
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TMCF’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Division has teamed up with Stanley Black & Decker, Lowe’s and Steelcase to achieve business competition.
Holmes and colleagues from Alabama State University, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University were tasked with proposing solutions to deficiencies in Lowe’s product return system. They found a solution using artificial intelligence.
“It used to be difficult to return items, especially with an app,” Holmes said. “We came up with ‘KEVIN’, which stands for Kinetic E-commerce Virtual Intelligence Network.”
Holmes received a share of more than $2,500 in prize money.
“I learned a lot of team building skills,” he said. “We were all energetic and had our own ideas. There was never an argument, but we were all so sure of our ideas that it was difficult to settle on one thing.”
The consultant helped the team build consensus.
“It was an idea that we could all build on and build on,” Holmes said. “I had to adjust with other people who are leaders. Being a good follower was also important.”
Holmes’ relationship with the Thurgood Marshall College Foundation grew during his enrollment at SC State. Over the summer, the TMCF program provided him with a tour of the Boeing Company facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he hopes to intern in 2023.
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At SC State, Holmes was involved in campus traditions and groups, including serving as a student orientation leader, a Dr. Emily England Clyburn Honors College Scholar, and a member of the 101 Black Men peer mentoring organization.