Los Angeles, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/29/2016 --Walter O'Brien, CEO and founder of Scorpion Computer Services, and executive producer of CBS's hit television show, Scorpion, addressed over 500 high-school students from across the Southland at Project ECHO's 12th annual High School Entrepreneur's Business Plan Competition at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Project Entrepreneurial Concepts Hands On! (ECHO), established in 1996, provides Southern California high-school students the opportunity to pitch their business ventures to prominent members of the local business community who serve as volunteer venture-capitalist judges. This year, over 50 student teams from local high schools participated in the competition and learned about entrepreneurial spirit from key note speaker, Walter O'Brien. "Project ECHO is a shining example of what makes America so innovative," said O'Brien. "I'm humbled to contribute towards inspiring young entrepreneurs and the creativity and tenacity that accompanies it. Being smart is cool," he added.
A total of $6,250 was awarded to ten teams, including an overall competition winner, and first, second, and third place in food, retail, and technology competition categories. The winning overall team, WaterWise from Long Beach Polytechnic High School, pitched their $1000 idea for a water conservation "app" with the goal of providing more accurate information for home owners to save money. "I've learned so much from being a part of Project ECHO. From my classroom experiences to the additional training and mentoring, and now being able to learn from Walter O'Brien: I am really liking being an entrepreneur," said a team member from WaterWise.
"Project ECHO has developed an entrepreneurship academic curriculum combined with business-boot camps, and seminar-style mentor days to support a well-rounded experience," said Diane Quast, ECHO's Executive Director. "Students are given a complete platform to ideate, create, develop, and pitch their businesses."
In addition to the school curriculum, high school students are mentored throughout the entire program by M.B.A. candidates from UCLA's Anderson School of Management. This is a collective attempt to provide students with useful skills in business that will positively influence their decision to continue their education beyond high school while opening doors for career opportunities. Pam Rupper, a UCLA M.B.A. mentor, explained, "The students are getting validation and direction for their ideas. It's exciting to see their passion, innovation, and dedication."
About Project ECHO
Project ECHO has taught thousands of middle and high school students throughout Southern California a formal education in business and entrepreneurship. ECHO offers a free year-round program including business boot camps supported by M.B.A. student mentors, a formal curriculum in entrepreneurial studies, and its annual business plan competition. The program provides instruction in entrepreneurial studies combined with hands-on activities that teach students in-demand skills in Excel, PowerPoint, business writing, social media marketing, finance, and presentation skills. Project ECHO is celebrating its 20th anniversary and started in the Santa Monica, CA.
For more information about Project ECHO, please visit http://www.projectecho.org.
About Walter O'Brien
Walter O'Brien is the CEO of Scorpion Computer Services and Executive Producer of Scorpion, the hit CBS-TV drama with over 26 million television viewers that is inspired by O'Brien's life. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has certified Walter O'Brien as being a person of national interest to the United States and granted him an Extraordinary Ability EB 1-1 Visa (the same type of visa granted to Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.) O'Brien has worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, plus Navy and Air Force systems to employ his artificial-intelligence systems to protect American military personnel. In addition, he has worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies including Fujitsu, Oracle, and Critical Path. O'Brien serves as chairman or board member for many non-profit organizations and regularly donates his time and talent to helping charities and the community, in general, to encourage new generations to celebrate intelligence.
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