IT&E Class Project Wins $5,000

Posted: December 16, 1999 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Emily Yaghmour

Last Tuesday evening, students Andrew Weyrich, Kasim Chaudhry, and Halleh Fatheisian won $5,000 for having the best class project of the Technical Entrepreneurship course, taught for the first time last semester. The award was made possible by two grants of $2,500: one from the Mason Enterprise Center and the other from the School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E). Lloyd Griffiths, dean of IT&E, created the class and asked Sharon deMonsabert, Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering, to teach it.

The first assignment deMonsabert gave her students was to come up with a business idea for which they would spend the semester developing a business plan. She gave them the option of working together in small groups or developing an idea on their own. Although both Chaudhry and Fatheisian had ideas for Internet-related businesses, neither of them wanted to work alone, so they teamed up with Weyrich to develop his idea.

Weyrich chose to develop a business idea that he and three friends came up with last summer. The idea was to create a website called that enables people to find others with similar interests. The site combines the function of the newsgroup with the graphical, user-friendly interface of a search engine so individuals can find others with similar interests quickly and easily.

Fatheisian, who graduated last semester with a B.S. in Computer Science, assumed the role of chief financial officer of She developed financial projections for the company’s first five years. She even determined the amount of start-up money the company required and met with a Crestar Bank representative to learn about how to acquire a loan. Chaudhry, a junior pursuing a double major in computer science and management information systems, assumed the role of chief technology officer. He focused on marketing strategies.

“The idea was sound, and the marketing approach was good,” says deMonsabert. But it didn’t win by a landslide. Of the 11 class projects, 2 others were within one point of winning. It was the presentation itself that may have given the small advantage it needed to win, says deMonsabert. “In addition to being informative, complete, and direct, their presentation was colorful, creative, and imaginative.”

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