Brad Smith, Intuit Help Marshall Students Flourish

Brad Smith, Jennifer Garner, Chad Pennington

The president and CEO of software company Intuit was at Marshall University Wednesday to hear students’ proposals for projects that could help some of the challenges West Virginia faces.Brad Smith, Jennifer Garner, Chad Pennington

The program was modeled after the television show Shark Tank. Intuit President and Marshall alum Brad Smith joined state native and actress Jennifer Garner, and former Marshall and NFL Quarterback Chad Pennington to hear presentations from seven groups of students. They were vying for three winning spots. The contest was called the 2017 Innovating for Impact Design and Delight Innovation Challenge. Smith said he wanted to help Marshall students come up with ideas that could help the state.

“I think one of the challenges we face as a state is that our best and brightest feel like there isn’t an opportunity here and they have to go elsewhere,” Smith said. “And the reality is there is lots of opportunity here and we just have to bring that inspiration here. And I want to see the best and brightest stay in this state and by the way I want other best and brightest to come and move to this state, this is one of the best kept secrets in the world.”

The winning groups were: 7 Degrees, who focused on providing schools with a box of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-related objects for students to tinker with; 42 Peaks created an app to help people suffering from substance abuse and their families; and Appalachian Action, who want to create a virtual reality experience for high school students to deter drug use.

Prizes included a trip to Silicon Valley to visit with Intuit officials and other companies like Apple, Facebook and Google.