Four Kalamazoo College students won a fourth-place team prize—and a $1,000 check—in an intercollegiate project management competition in Grand Rapids hosted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) West Michigan Chapter.
Christian Giancarlo ’13, Forrest Todd ’13, Jack Massion ’14, and Marjorie Toshach ’13 worked as a team to improve the fictional business MichiganToStay, Inc.
“Basically we had to revamp the attraction and retention programs for employees,” said Todd.
In addition to meeting with each other and formulating a plan, the K students received help from mentors DeLin Shen and Harold Kaefer of Kalamazoo-based Stryker Corp. The team faced different deadlines and tasks throughout the competition and presented its entire process to a panel of judges.
K Senior Instructor of Economics Chuck Stull organized the team.
“I am proud of how well all of the K competitors did and excited to see their hard work recognized,” Stull said. “This project took an impressive amount of work and I’m very appreciative of all the time contributed by the local business mentors. The students learned so much working closely with business professionals from Stryker, Kellogg, Pfizer, Deloitte, Jacobs Engineering, and Chaucer Consulting.”
Stull also thanked K alumnus Joel Mergen ’86 for bring the project to his attention.
“What drew me to [the project] was the experience of working with the mentors,” Toshach said. “I spent more time on it than some of my classes.”
The project happened independently of class, so team members spent their free time working on it. Toshach said the experience of working on a project allowed her insight into a process that would have been difficult to learn in the classroom.
“The material itself is dry, so you need a scenario to add to it right away,” she said. “I think that made a huge difference with the learning experience.”
Todd agreed. “It was cool because you got to learn how it’s applicable, what this stuff actually means in the business world and how we can actually help the customer, even though it was fictitious,” he said.