The myriad benefits of business school competitions
IS students win two awards: One for a successful chapter and the other for a real-world business solution.
Competitions have become a core feature of information systems programs — one in which students are eager to participate. They often spur students to pursue excellence, as well as showcase their talents, connect with top employers, build their resumes, challenge themselves, and test their ideas.
Initiatives like the Association for Information Systems’ (AIS) Outstanding Student Chapter and Competition for Management of Information Systems (CoMIS) are landmark annual events. These competitions prepare future IT leaders and help students consider the broad social implications of business projects.
Business school competitions also expose students to diverse tech challenges and encourage them to formulate innovative solutions.
On a more practical note, the cash prizes offered to winners of some competitions have the potential to make a significant dent in students’ tuition, book, and administrative fees.
Here are two competitions information systems students won this spring:
DISC awarded Outstanding Student Chapter
Despite last year's challenges, the Department of Information Systems Club (DISC) found ways to thrive. In recognition of its efforts, it won the AIS Outstanding Student Chapter.
During the 2020–2021 school year, DISC didn’t let closed classrooms and canceled events stop them; they went virtual, holding meetings and events online.
“The award is evidence that despite the sudden shift, we kept pushing forward and meeting the club’s mission,” says Helen Lee, DISC’s vice president of corporate relations and 2022 computer information systems (CIS) graduate.
The Outstanding Student Chapter Award recognizes worthy chapters that have done well in the association’s areas of focus — professional development, membership, careers in information systems, community service, fundraising, and communications.
The club regularly holds meetings for its members to network with industry professionals and explore careers in data analytics or information systems. DISC also puts on community outreach events, such as the Community Instruction Program, which offers tech classes to seniors, and the Secret Code of Business, a hands-on workshop for local middle school students to learn coding skills.
CIS senior Kelly Mannenbach, current DISC president, encourages students to come to a meeting and check out DISC. “DISC is a great way for students to meet their fellow peers, interact, network and connect with company representatives, serve in the ASU and Tempe community, and learn new technological skills,” she says.
DISC meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Business Administration building, room 341, and virtually on Zoom.
W. P. Carey team places third in information systems competition
A W. P. Carey student team brought home third place in the rigorous Competition for Management of Information Systems.
CoMIS, a case competition hosted by students from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, is in its 10th year and extends invitations to students at top information systems programs worldwide. Nineteen teams competed in the competition held in March in Minnesota.
Team members were recent graduates Cory English (BS Business Data Analytics/Supply Chain Management ’22), Riley O’Neil (BS Business Data Analytics/Finance ’22), and first-year BDA student Siddharth Somani. Ahmed Eltoukhy (BS Business Data Analytics/ ’22) served as an alternate.
Each team of three was locked in a room for 24 hours to think up solutions to the real-world problem offered up by Carousel Digital Signage. Teams then presented their ideas to judges and the company. The student teams were judged both on their concept and on the creativity and thoroughness of their presentation.
Teams who made it to the final round of competition applied new information that affected the business and their solution to the problem. They had 30 minutes to revise their presentations to account for the change.
While the work was challenging, lack of sleep was the most challenging part of the competition, O’Neil says, but that temporary inconvenience was worth it. “I’ve gained a lot of skills in public speaking, presenting, and networking throughout CoMIS,” she says. “It has strengthened my ability to research and develop creative solutions to problems.”
To prepare for the competition, the team worked on mock case studies, created presentations, and held practice debates, Somani says. As the youngest team member, he says the three seniors became his mentors, and he learned a lot from them.
English says working effectively as a team under extreme pressure was essential during the competition. The team relied on their preparation, know-how, and friendship. “Our team was successful because we are great friends,” she says. “We were able to be open and honest with each other about our ideas, critiquing them until we found the best one as a team.”
As an alternate, Eltoukhy had the unique opportunity to watch several other teams present their ideas. He learned a lot from his front-row seat. “For me as a substitute, watching the presentations was so informative because all the teams were great,” he says.
Clinical Assistant Professor Andres Diaz Lopez served as the faculty advisor to the team. He helped the team prepare for the competition by offering challenges and encouraging them to think of ideas, strategies, and tools. “Our team stood out because the members had a solid background in similar events, they were enthusiastic about the challenge, committed to the work they had to do and, during the competition, they were able to deliver a clear, direct, and well-supported proposal,” Lopez says.
Participating in competitions like CoMIS gives students a glimpse into what a career in information systems or data analytics might be like because the case studies closely resemble real work experiences.
“Students benefit from the knowledge and confidence they gain from these competitions,” Lopez says. “These competitions offer a great opportunity for professional and academic networking.”
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