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Applied science alumnus ventures into the 'Shark Tank'

  • Chumming for 'sharks'
    Chumming for 'sharks'  A team from Hamboards, including applied science Ph.D. alumnus Don Sandusky (right), makes their pitch to the venture capitalist panel on “Shark Tank.” Check out how Sandusky and his colleagues fare Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. on ABC.  Photo by Kelsey McNeal/ABC
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One of the first Ph.D.s from William & Mary’s applied science program will be on ABC’s show “Shark Tank” on Friday.

Don Sandusky Ph.D. ’95 will be part of a team seeking venture capital for Hamboards, oversized skateboards designed to more closely replicate the experience of surfing. On the Oct. 11 episode of “Shark Tank,” Sandusky and fellow Hamboard entrepreneurs will make their best pitch to a panel of potential investors. Regular viewers of the show will know to expect wheeling, dealing and tough questions from the “sharks” sitting in the chairs.

“I am told the viewership could be between five to eight million. That's a lot of eyeballs!,” Sandusky wrote in an update on his LinkedIn page. “Please remember, I was ‘acting’... It is TV after all.”

Mark Hinders, professor of applied science, joined William & Mary’s faculty at about the same time Sandusky enrolled in the then-new applied science program. Hinders noted that Sandusky’s dissertation research at NASA resulted in three patents. He shared a photo of Sandusky as a student.

Dennis Manos, William & Mary’s vice provost for research, developed the applied science program at William & Mary. He remembers Sandusky as one of the standouts of the early days of the program and isn’t the least surprised to find him making a pitch on “Shark Tank.”

“Our first couple of cohorts of students were chosen with a great deal of care, because we wanted the class to be entrepreneurial,” Manos said. “And Donnie was one of the most entrepreneurial of the bunch.”

Watch Sandusky make his pitch Friday, Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. on ABC.