Unleash the Innovator Inside of You


Big Idea Center Events Offer Fun, Food, Experiential Learning…..and Cash!

A century ago, the term “The Roaring ‘20s” was coined as American life changed rapidly alongside advances in manufacturing, communication and transportation.

The pace of change today is accelerating light years ahead of that bygone era. Times of momentous upheaval present both challenges and unlimited opportunities for students as they prepare for their life after college.

Whatever your area of study, and wherever your life’s journey takes you, having the skills and experience of bringing a new idea or new product to life will prepare you for success in a world where change is the norm.

The Big Idea Center at Pitt’s Innovation Institute provides all Pitt students, from freshman to postdoc, the opportunity to dip their toes into the waters of innovation and entrepreneurship this semester with weekend idea hacking events and the region’s largest student innovation competition, with $100,000 in cash prizes awarded.

“Whether you have an idea of your own that you want to test for its potential, or if you simply want to learn skills that will help you stand out from the pack as you prepare for your career, our events are a fun and exciting opportunity for self-discovery,” said Babs Carryer, director of the Big Idea Center.

Big Idea Blitz
Jan. 24 and 25
Information Sciences Building

First on the calendar is the Big Idea Blitz. At this weekend ideation event, you pitch your own idea, or come hear ideas from other Pitt students and bring your talent and passion to their teams. The event kicks off Friday evening.

On Saturday, teams will develop a presentation for their ideas with help from our staff and entrepreneurs in residence. You will finish the day by pitching the idea for a chance at cash prizes. Food will be provided throughout the event to fuel your creativity.

She Innovates
Jan. 31 to Feb. 2
Alumni Hall & Information Sciences Building

This one is for the ladies. Co-sponsored with Women in Computer Science and the School of Computing and Information, She Innovates is an all-female hackathon where a computer science background is not necessary.  It is open to students of all levels, from freshman to postdoc. You will enjoy a weekend filled with idea pitching, team formation, mentorship and technical talks.

There will be prizes and lots of swag, and plenty of food.


Randall Family Big Idea Competition

Application deadline: Feb 7, 2020 11:59 p.m.

Final Randall Family Big Idea Competition Awards Ceremony: Mar 26, Doors open at 4 p.m., Alumni Hall, Connolly Ballroom

The grand-daddy of them all, the Randall Family Big Idea Competition, now in its 12th year, is the region’s largest student pitch competition, with $100,000 in cash prizes. Also open to all Pitt students of any level, the Big Idea competition is a multi-stage innovation competition where student teams work side-by-side with an experienced business mentor to polish their ideas and pitch to a panel of regional innovation and entrepreneurship VIPs.

There is a $25,000 top prize and many smaller prizes.

Is there an innovator inside you waiting to break through? Let the Big Idea Center help you find out this semester. It could pay off with cold hard cash, or even better, a new perspective on your future.

Info sessions will be held at the Big Idea Center on O’Hara Street:  Jan 21, 10-11 a.m., Jan 23, 12-1 p.m., Jan 29, 5-6 p.m. and February 3, 3-4 p.m. Applications are due February 7, 2020.

Go to innovation.pitt.edu/BigIdeaCenter to learn more and register for these exciting events.