University of Southern Indiana

Interdisciplinary Team Wins Alberta Energy Challenge

Four students from the University of Southern Indiana won first place in the 2015 Alberta Energy Challenge held at the University of Alberta in Edmonton Canada, September 23-27 2015. Nine student teams had 52 hours to research and develop a comprehensive and innovative solution to a business case related to the Alberta Oil Sands. Given the downturn of the economy, the future outlook of oil prices, and the typical lifespan of investment in the industry, the focuses of the case were on crew changes, innovative ideas of retaining and transferring knowledge, next-generation recruiting, and preserving economic viability against future oil price fluctuations. 

This is the second year that USI had an interdisciplinary team enter the competition and the first time to take the top spot. The University of Vermont placed second and the University of Oklahoma placed third.

The team members are: senior marketing major Alicia Bowling, junior accounting major Connor Curry, junior engineering major Ryan Elpers, and senior industrial supervision major Casey Montgomery. Co-coaches are Dr. Manfen Chen, associate professor of finance, Dr. Brandon Field, associate professor of engineering, and Jeanette Maier-Lytle, instructor in accounting. 

The USI team brought to the challenge a diversity of interests, abilities, and experiences, which provided the foundation for a multifaceted and innovative solution.  The teamwork of students and faculty further contributes to the collaborative efforts to support integration of business, technology and engineering with a goal of increasing innovation and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Brandon Field summed up his experience as “fantastic” to be able to work with highly motivated students and network with engineers working at the oil sands facility. He hopes that through these connections he will be able to conduct collaborative scholarship involving thermal analyses of the facility.

 “This event proves what Steven Johnson said when he came to campus,” said Ryan Elpers. “In order to be leading innovators going into the future, collaboration is key.” Alicia Bowling added, “This experience will help me have educated conversations about critical things that are happening in the oil and gas industry today.” The team members agree how rewarding it is to see all their long hours pay off, and Jeanette Maier-Lytle remarked that “one of the best parts of coaching is witnessing the transformation from student to professional.”

The sixth annual challenge, hosted by the University of Alberta School of Business and the Commerce Energy and Environment Group, focuses on exploring the opportunities and challenges present in the dynamic energy sector.  Resources for the teams included access to the University’s databases and consulting opportunities with industry and academic experts.

Read USI's press release>>

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