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Carter Bakes a Better Business Plan

Writing and photography by Randall Brown.

Alexandria Carter engineered a recipe for a successful finish to her fall 2022 semester at UT. The biomedical engineering senior won first place and $5,000 in the Growth category of the Graves Business Plan Competition, presented annually by UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The award helped fund her start-up company, Out of the Box Appliances, with a plan to develop a line of kitchen appliances with removable rechargeable batteries. Not only will the appliances make for clean and safe kitchens, but they may also bring new possibilities to cooking on the go—from tailgates to camping.

The entrepreneurial inspiration for this success came from Carter’s favorite way to address the academic work-life balance.

“I found a huge source of stress relief from school and work tended to be baking,” she said. “Over the course of college, I’ve continued to bake more and more, diving into more complex recipes as the years go by.”

Carter might spend a weekend elaborately decorating a cake to celebrate a friend’s birthday or observing Valentine’s Day festivities with an espresso–bourbon bread pudding.

“It started to dawn on me that my passion towards engineering and the thing that provided me stress relief could come together in one space and kind of peacefully coexist,” she said.

On the engineering side of things, Carter works with Assistant Professor Andrew Dickerson’s research group on projects and literature review for his fluid mechanics laboratory.

“I’ve had an incredible time working for him the last year or so,” she said. “I even had the opportunity to represent him this past summer at the University of Central Florida, taking one of these projects to a new level and implementing a machine-learning aspect to a biomechanics fluids problem.”

Dickerson helped Carter connect with a trip to Israel with undergraduates from around the country to gain international experience.

“They focus on the lively culture including food, traditions, and just the individual people,” she said. “I don’t think you can ever really understand a place unless you’ve walked in their shoes.”

Carter stays on the move making connections and exploring her native Knoxville area, as well. She avidly enjoys coffee dates with her mom or friends, proclaiming, “Afternoon coffee is essential to survival as a college student.”

She plays volleyball for the women’s club team at UT Knoxville and grew up sharing a love of hiking with her dad. She channeled that energy into becoming an avid runner during the COVID-19 pandemic, exploring trails all over town.

This spring, Carter pointed her entrepreneurial momentum toward the Boyd Venture Fund competition and has a post graduation job lined up as a project manager with Epic Systems—although her Volunteer Spirit may find her continuing to follow her own path.

“I am honored to have accepted this position, but I’m not ruling out the fact that things could change in the blink of an eye,” she said. “If this business and engineering idea truly takes off, who knows where I’ll be after graduation? I’m open to all the possibilities in the world.”