Norfolk Southern Corporation Sponsors Engineering and Business Case Competition
Thursday, November 20, 2014
As corporate sponsors of the 2014 Penn State Altoona Engineering and Business Case Competition, Norfolk Southern Juniata Locomotive Shop and Norfolk Southern Foundation hosted the competition and provided scholarship support to the winning teams. Held on Nov. 6-8, the competition challenged 10 teams of engineering and business students to develop sustainability initiatives that can be implemented and measured at the Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona.
“We are deeply grateful to Norfolk Southern Juniata Locomotive Shop, Norfolk Southern Foundation, and Norfolk Southern executives Don Faulkner and Jake Bilthuis for their outstanding support in the Engineering & Business Case Competition,” said Deborah K. Hommer, instructor in Business Administration and faculty adviser of the competition. “This remarkable initiative simply would not have been possible without their generosity.”
Norfolk Southern employees provided multiple tours of the Juniata Locomotive Shops, answered questions from student participants, and served as judges for the student presentations. In addition to providing students with a unique learning experience, the company awarded the top two teams with scholarships through its foundation. Each of the four students on the winning team received a $2,500 scholarship. The four members of the second-place team each received a $1,000 scholarship. The student chair of the competition received a $1,500 scholarship.
The three-day competition began Thursday, November 6, with an evening reception hosted by Norfolk Southern and a tour of the Juniata Locomotive Shop. The case and instructions were distributed to the students on Friday morning. Teams were allotted twenty-four hours to prepare their case before first-round presentations began Saturday morning. Finalists presented their case on Saturday afternoon. The winning team was announced during the evening award program.
“It was great to see the energy the students applied to our case competition,” said Jake Bilthuis, assistant general superintendent for Norfolk Southern Corporation. “Every presentation had a unique approach to the problem and demonstrated the innovation and versatility of the students. They provided us with many excellent ideas to help us improve our sustainability efforts in Altoona.”
Judging was based on overall performance, quality of analysis, presentation, and a question-and-answer session. Members of the winning team were Chantel DeGennaro (Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania), George Mukai (Amherst, New Hampshire), Shelby Stigers (Sidman, Pennsylvania), and Richard Weber (Altoona). Comprising the second-place team were David Clapper (Martinsburg, Pennsylvania), Monica Pote (Langhorne, Pennsylvania), Alexander Ricci (Warminster, Pennsylvania), and Audrey Salatino (Greensburg, Pennsylvania).
“The 2014 Engineering & Business Case Competition was a great success,” said Bryan Schlake, lecturer in Rail Transportation Engineering. “Students gained invaluable experience in problem-solving, teamwork, decision making, and in developing high-quality, professional presentations. They also gained exposure to hands-on business and engineering challenges at a world-class locomotive repair shop, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some students.”
Leila Farzam, a senior and student chair of the competition, said team members benefitted from the opportunity to tour the facilities of a major corporation with a local presence. “It was so rewarding to watch students from across many different majors work together to develop winning strategies,” said Farzam. “I know that we all enjoyed learning about this amazing company that is in our backyard.”
Penn State alumni and friends like Norfolk Southern Corporation are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research, and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom; expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty; enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty; and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University’s colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.