Students earn top honors in regional competition

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Photo of winning WMU team with their classmates.

The winning team members (seated) with their capstone course classmates

KALAMAZOO—A team of five Western Michigan University students earned the Overall Champion award and won Best Project honors at the second annual Midwest Student Information Systems Project and Case Competition hosted by Ball State University.

Nine teams from five universities vied for top honors in three categories—project, project presentation and case competition. The WMU team earned the top spot for its project and second place for its presentation, earning the group the Overall Champion award, beating out the Purdue University team, which placed second. 

During the three-day competition, teams presented their projects, participated in the case competition and attended networking events. The WMU team developed a management dashboard with an expert system component that included business, global and sustainability intelligence subsystems as part of the computer information systems capstone course.

“The project that we brought to the competition had vastly more finesse and sophistication than those of other teams, which makes me really proud to be a student of WMU,” says Charles Blaine. 

The team also responded to a case study that asked students to make recommendations to an investment firm about loaning $750,000 to a daycare that wanted to expand to a fourth location.

“Included in the case were several ‘mines’ as they called them ... laptops had been stolen; they didn't have reliable Internet; and they were experiencing high turnover of employees,” says student Michelle Swadling. “We gave recommendations for improving the business as well as the financial OK to invest in the daycare.” 

According to Dr. Andrew Targowski, faculty advisor for the group, the students used their time effectively, testing the dashboard repeatedly and practicing their presentation multiple times.

“We spent a lot of time perfecting the project," says student Samuel Fox. "There was a lot of time discussing how something should work, look and behave, which made the final result that much more rewarding. The project has a piece of everyone in it.” 

Members of the WMU team

  • Charles Blaine, a computer information systems major from Richland, Mich.
  • Samuel Fox, a computer information systems major from Okemos, Mich.
  • Joseph Hawkins, a computer information systems major from Jackson, Mich.
  • Eric Potts, an integrated supply management major from Dewitt, Mich.
  • Michelle Swadling, an electronic business design major from Onondaga, Mich.

In addition to the WMU and Purdue, teams represented Ball State University, University of Toledo and Ohio University.