Students Participate in First International Engineering/Commerce Case Competition
Students from the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (MIG) and School of Engineering teamed up to participate in the international case competition held at the Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
Concordia’s John Molson Business School hosts the largest international case competitions in the world with the aim of introducing undergraduate students to “real life” business challenges that require them to compete with other student teams to define the best solution. Teams are assessed by a panel of judges comprising experienced professionals drawn from industry.
Team UKZN comprised Mechanical Engineering fourth year students Ms Serena Glass and Mr Matthew Woods; Supply Chain Management Honours student Mr Yashkar Amrithlal; Marketing Honours student Ms Darshana Soni and the team’s coach Supply Chain Management Lecturer Mr Hans Salisbury.
The team, the only entry from a university in Africa, won Best Sustainable Solution title and was third overall in the elimination rounds going through to the final round comprising the top four universities.
‘The aim of the engineering and commerce case competition is to bring engineering and commerce students together in a competitive environment and showcase their ability to collaborate - important skills that are needed to be successful in their future careers,’ Salisbury said.
The interdisciplinary collaboration allowed students to gain valuable insights into the different elements and thought processes involved in each discipline.
‘These insights will give students a competitive edge when entering into the business world. We’re looking forward to introducing this type of competition at UKZN and ultimately to challenging other universities to compete. We will be able to showcase our undergraduate student talent to industry and to encourage industry to engage further with us,’ said Salisbury.
Commenting from a marketing and finance’s student’s perspective, Soni said the competition taught her how to integrate the business component with engineering.
‘I have learnt how to apply a marketing plan and marketing and financial concepts to solve realistic case studies. The value of interdisciplinary partnerships I would say was fostering innovation and sharing our solutions to find mutually beneficial ones. The integration of both the commerce and engineering faculties gave a broader insight into solving the problems we were faced with,’ she said.
Engineering students Woods and Glass agreed with Soni as they had to embrace commercial elements such as economically feasible target markets and the challenge of getting potential customers to embrace new technology.
‘It was an extraordinary real life scenario that not many students get to experience,’ said Woods. ‘The cases were problems faced by actual companies in Canada and we were able to present our solution to practising engineers and company executives. Listening to the insightful feedback from these experienced professionals was one of the highlights of the competition.’
Team KZN’s costs were sponsored by the Dean and Head of School for Engineering Professor Christina Trois and the Dean and Head of School for MIG Professor Henry Wissink.