Solving Real World Business Challenges

Teams of students from Abington and Germany compete to develop the best solution to a problem posed by a company in the Philadelphia region within 48-hours.
By: Regina Broscius
Penn State Abington designs business case competitions to provide a realistic international business experience. Students perform primary research on-site, develop solutions, and present it to company executives.

From the outset, the competitions reflect the realities of work: managing tight deadlines and relationships as well as mastering skills and stretching limits. Faculty mentors mingle students from Abington and its European partner, Hof University of the Applied Sciences, to create teams. 

“You’re with people from different backgrounds and cultures to collaborate and solve problems. It showed me exactly what I can expect once I move into the professional world." — Eric Mansky  

They group travels with faculty mentors to a company's offices for the discovery phase. When international manufacturer Reading Bakery Systems (RBS) sponsored the competition, Abington alumnus and RBS President Joseph Zaleski led off with a discussion of the company’s business.

Then, accompanied by RBS managers, the teams explored the manufacturing, research and development facilities while quizzing everyone from executives to forklift drivers for relevant data.

“The experience was pivotal to my future in business.” — Abdullah Bas, business major

When the global technology firm QAD wanted honest feedback and fresh ideas to reshape its customer engagement model, it turned to the Abington case competition. Management, including several alumni, were fully invested in the process. They were readily accessible throughout the two-day process to answer questions from the teams just as they would for co-workers, consultants, or vendors.

case competition

Students camped out in hotel rooms to develop a proposal and practice the presentation.

Credit: Regina Broscius

Finally, the teams hunker down in company conference rooms and nearby hotels where they are staying to massage the data and their ideas into a cogent analysis to present to key employees.

The QAD students received unexpected additional feedback from members of the QAD leadership team visiting from offices in Germany, India, Australia, and the United Kingdom. 

"You educated us, and the constructive criticism of our current model was great," one said.

"It was an unprecedented opportunity to apply our knowledge and our ability to discuss the reasoning behind our decisions."  — Herman Chen, business major 

Joe Cusick

Joe Cusick connected with executives from QAD during the case competition. QAD hired him, and he began working for the firm in California a few days after graduating from Abington.

Credit: Maria Narodetsky

Business Opportunities at Abington

Opportunities abound for business majors at Penn State Abington. 

Business Case Competitions: Selected students must enroll in a related credit-bearing course scheduled for the semester of the competition. 

Conferences: Abington students present at conferences and represent the College in competitions. One undergraduate traveled to Spain for the International Marketing Week student competition.

Courses with an International Travel Component: Students may enroll in courses with an international focus that require short-term travel led by faculty. China, Japan, Spain, England, and Malta are among the destinations. 

ENACTUS: Student entrepreneurs manage this co-curricular activity, which develops and implement projects to benefit their communities and others around the globe. 

Undergraduate ResearchAbington College Undergraduate Research Activities, known as ACURA, pairs students with faculty mentors for yearlong hands-on research projects.