Cole has been a member of EngComm’s board of directors for about 15 months. The board includes industry professionals who advise and mentor the executive team. The executive team members, made up of students from the John Molson School of Business and the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, run the event.
Marinvent, which provides consulting and other services to the aviation industry, is also a sponsoring partner. “This is a really good way to see how students work under pressure,” Cole says.
After the 2017 competition, Marinvent offered four members of the first- and second-place teams positions at the company. Cole says this is the only case competition in the world that properly combines cross-functional teams of business and engineering students.
The 2017 event, held at Concordia February 28 to March 4, attracted 12 university teams from across Canada, the United States, Ireland, Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Generally, each team is made up of two engineering and two business school students who are given challenging industry scenarios to solve.
Teams have six to 12 hours to study a real-world issue, develop a solution and create a presentation for a panel of judges composed of university professors, professional engineers and industry insiders.
This year, first place went to the University of Limerick in Ireland, second place to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and third to the University of Manitoba.
Filling a gap
“I am sensitive to the need in the industry to really be able to bridge the communication gap and inter-working gap between technical and business,” says Rui Lopes, EMBA 02, who became involved with the competition as a board member three years ago.
Lopes is the director of business and marketing at Elekta, a Swedish medical equipment company with a Montreal-based research and development centre. His company sponsored the 2016 competition.
“We really have to teach our future leaders to work with each other,” he says. “University curriculums are evolving to address that need. I think competitions like this are a great way to get a grassroots, hands-on experience.”