COBA Students Win at 'The Yard'

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The Yard COBA Nov 2022 student Winners (2).jpg

ASU and COBA Students Win at 'The YARD' Pitch Competition HBCU Initiative Sponsored by Vulcan Materials Company 

- The University received a $10-K award while ASU students earned individual cash prizes. 

Both Alabama State University and students enrolled in ASU's Percy J. Vaughn College of Business Administration (COBA) brought home cash awards after competing in the “The YARD” Pitch Competition HBCU Initiative sponsored by Vulcan Materials Company. The event coincided with The Magic City Classic and was held at the Innovation Depot in Birmingham, Ala. on Oct. 28. 

Alabama State received a $10,000 check for the students commendable showing at the competition. The following students also brought home individual prize money: Symiah Bell (freshman), $1,500; Ephrem Tilahun (junior) - $3,000; Hope Smith (junior), $2,000; and Tre'Von Conner (junior), $2,000; and Professor Kim F. Smith, COBA Management instructor served as the student’s advisor for the competition. 

"I am excited for our students who did well in the opportunity at 'The YARD' to display their skills to think critically while devising a program that they would like to see instituted at their school," Smith stated. "ASU's COBA students targeted their presentation on the University providing both students and ex-convicts, the tools and resources needed to start successful businesses and therefore open a new pathway to better lives for the people affected, as well as providing enhanced economic development for the community." 


Smith believes that “The YARD” competition and similar programs do much more than just allow the school to win prize money. 

"This and similar programs allow Alabama State University to establish new partnerships with such acclaimed local business entities as Vulcan Materials Company, which is the nation's largest producer of construction aggregates," said Smith. "The competition we just participated in has allowed us the privilege and opportunity to discuss with them potential projects and opportunities that could lift-up our students and perhaps allow them access to its incredible array of national industry leaders." 

Vulcan Materials leadership also see a benefit in promoting diversity and excellence in business by sponsoring events like “The YARD.” 

"A more diverse workplace benefits our organization by bringing new perspectives to the business. It advances productivity and performance and improves our ability to appeal to a diverse marketplace," says Darren Hicks, vice president of Human Resources, Vulcan Materials Company. 


“The YARD” is the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) platform for connecting tech, talent and culture to advance innovation, infrastructure and inclusion. It was founded to create new investment opportunities for students and employers, through the use of innovation-focused pitch competitions, debates, and immersive technology studios.  

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.