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Prize-winning business idea from Rapelje students brings drone exhibition to town

Prize-winning business idea from Rapelje students brings drone exhibition to town

Students and community members took in a drone exhibition in Rapelje on Monday after three students won a Montana Chamber of Commerce Chamber Foundation business pitch competition. 

The competition, called "The Prospects" awarded prizes over 10 categories, including a special prize category on drones and data which was won by Rapelje High School students Lily Herzog, Kylee Bryant and Matthew Brubaker for their "Pipeline Tech" submission.

All three are students of Rapelje business teacher Jacki Keating.

RDO Equipment Company sponsored the drone category, and the company put on a drone flight and data analysis exhibition in Rapelje, with an emphasis on how drone technology can be integrated with heavy machinery in the agriculture, construction and energy industries.

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen also attended and spoke at the Monday event.

"Our goal for the Drone and Data Exhibition was to demonstrate how business and education can partner on work-based learning opportunities that develop in demand workforce readiness skills; and support the career technical education (CTE) that our students need for success in the information age," Matthew Olson, the director of network development for the Montana Chamber of Commerce, said by email.

Award winners for The Prospects were announced in March. The competition awarded $35,000 in cash, $15,000 in scholarships and financial aid and $2,000 in Microsoft technology prizes. The Montana Chamber Foundation partnered with the entrepreneur education nonprofit Youth Entrepreneurs for the competition.

Entries consisted of a pitch video running two minutes or less, a business summary of 1,000 words or less and an educator and parent waiver form.

A total of 171 students submitted 93 entries to the competition. 

"During the pandemic we saw the need to run a virtual high school business competition to reward kids for their ideas," Olson said.

Billings-area winners include Billings Skyview student Autumn Harris whose "The Right Shoe" took the $500 "Most Promise" prize in the New Business Ideas category.

In the Existing Business category, Billings Senior student Kyle McKee won the $500 "Most Promise" prize for "Lucky Shoes Welding." Sarah Browning from the Billings Career Center won the $500 High Tech and E-Commerce category for "Sarah's Errands."


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