The Great Pitching Competition

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The Great Pitching Competition

As spring approaches, it's natural to think of pitchers warming up. But the pitching that goes on in SESE's Great Pitching Competition doesn't involve baseballs. Instead, it's all about ideas — ideas from students (both undergraduate and graduate) and from postdoctoral researchers.

The Great Pitching Competition began in 2015 and is held every year, usually in February. Both undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs are invited to get up in front of the school, and several judges, to pitch an idea for a personal project that needs funding to get started.

Pitchers have three minutes exactly to make their case, and no visuals or props are allowed.  

Who can enter? Undergraduates in SESE fields (including minors) are eligible for the undergraduate competition. Graduates and postdocs in SESE and the Humanities are eligible for the graduate and postdoc competition.

What are the prizes? There are two First Place prizes of $1,000 each (one for best undergraduate pitch and one for graduates or postdocs). In addition, there are two Audience Favorite prizes of $500 each (same two categories). Finally, there's a Judges' Select prize of $1,000, which can go to a pitcher from either category.

What do the judges want to see? Successful pitches follow a certain formula. This consists of introducing yourself and presenting your idea with a catchy hook. Beyond this, points to address include:

  • What’s the problem?
  • What's your solution?
  • What will be the impact of your project?
  • What's the competition?
  • And finally, the Ask — what do you need to do your project?

On their part, the judges are looking for creativity, passion, excitement, and clarity of the pitch. As they listen to your pitch, they will be wondering —

  • Is this project well thought out?
  • Can it be done as described?
  • Are the funds requested adequate?
  • How novel is the project?
  • How effective is it compared to the existing competition?

To see the results of earlier competitions, check out their pages: 2017, 2016, and 2015.