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Engineering Announces Storer Entrepreneurial Award Winner

The University of Iowa College of Engineering has announced that a student-run business -- Solid Systems, Inc., based at the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City -- is the winner of 2005 Hubert E. Storer Engineering Student Entrepreneurial Start-up Award.

The annual award, established in 2002 and funded by an endowed gift from College of Engineering alumnus Hubert E. Storer, will provide $5,000 of initial financial support for the College of Engineering student technological business plan.

Solid Systems, Inc. is a team of computer service experts providing a new standard of service for residential computer repair, beginning in Iowa City and Coralville. By explaining technical issues in plain terms and keeping the customer informed of all procedures and progress through an online service tracking feature, they show the customer how the problem occurred and how it may be prevented from recurring. The company's standard service includes free pick-up and delivery, as well as an unmatched 60-day warranty. Timeliness is also a priority, and they strive to provide a three-day maximum turnaround time. The firm says that it hopes to carve out a niche for itself by combining the affordability of in-store service with the convenience of on-site service.

The company's CEO and founder is Michael Erps of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a UI senior in industrial engineering. He currently serves as a personal computer technician for the Iowa Memorial Union, overseeing some 200 computers used by business units and student organizations. Previously he held an internship with the Cedar Rapids Community School District where he installed network infrastructure in all elementary school buildings. He will graduate in December, earning a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering with an emphasis in business management.

The company's president is Mathias Gran of Newton, Iowa, a UI senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who will graduate in December with a bachelor of liberal studies degree with a certificate of entrepreneurship from the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. A computer support technician for the UI Department of Residence Services, he has served as webmaster for housing.uiowa.edu and offered support to about 120 staff members. Previously he served as assistant manager of Family Video of Ames, Iowa and studied computer science at Iowa State University.

The Storer Awards are named for Hubert E. Storer, president, owner and founder of Storer Equipment Company of Shreveport, La., who earned his bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering from the UI College of Engineering in 1959.

The awards complement the UI Technological Entrepreneurship Certificate, earned in conjunction with an engineering degree and established in 1996 by the College of Engineering and the Henry B. Tippie College of Business. The first of its kind at any U.S. engineering college, the nationally recognized program enables students to study the entrepreneurial process as it relates to technology.

The Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory on the UI campus is an extension of one of the five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in Iowa and the only one that provides free office space for students, coupled with close guidance from business faculty members and proven entrepreneurs. Tom Bedell, chairman of fishing tackle company Pure Fishing in Spirit Lake, has pledged $660,000 to the center, a 10,000 square-foot facility that provides an added boost to students participating in the UI campus-wide entrepreneurship program.


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