iSchool students win Travelers IT Case Competition
iSchool students win Travelers IT Case CompetitionNovember 19, 2007Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
On Nov. 16, a team of students from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) won first place in the 2007 Travelers Information Technology Case Competition in Hartford, Conn.
Seniors Josh Frost, Marissa Petruno and Grant Haggan, and sophomore Brendan Tindall beat out teams from the University of Connecticut, Central Connecticut State University, the University of Wisconsin and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
At the start of the competition, the student teams were asked to select a problem to research from one of four topics: Innovation in Insurance, Going Green, Knowledge Transfer and Management, and Privacy and Ethics in Information Usage.
The iSchool students selected knowledge transfer and management. They then had five hours to research the topic and create a 15-minute presentation for a panel of Travelers executive judges. The students’ presentation outlined a plan that would help Travelers, one of the largest property and casualty insurance providers in the United States, develop a systematic way of ensuring the smooth transition of knowledge as employees come and go.
“This competition was a perfect fit for our school,” says Dave Dischiave, director of the science in information management master’s degree program, who accompanied the team to Connecticut with his wife and fellow iSchool faculty member, Susan Dischiave. “Our students did an amazing job, coming home with first place and a $1,000 prize. After the ceremony, one of the Travelers managers came up to me and said, `I have been coming to these presentations for years, and this is the best one I have ever seen.'”
Travelers invited only a handful of teams from colleges with strong information management programs. All participating students were nominated by their home colleges and have grade point averages of 3.0 or higher.
“It was a long day, but we worked hard during the time we had,” says Tindall, a double major in information management and technology and finance, who worked at Travelers last summer and hopes to do so again this summer. “We all got a great taste of the business world from our research and presentation to the executives. After the announcement that we won, we talked with the judges and grabbed business cards. It was definitely a worthwhile networking experience.”
The students credit the lessons learned in associate professor Susan Bonzi’s class “Information Reporting and Presentation” (IST 444) with helping them win the competition.
“Any student from the iSchool who took the classes we did could have won that competition,” says Frost, a triple major in information management and technology, Spanish and history. I have never felt so prepared for anything before; it was almost like a class exercise. While I am very happy to have won, I also realize that anyone from the iSchool could have done it, too. That’s what I am most proud of.”
The iSchool students will share the $1,000 first-place cash award. Other schools recognized were Worchester Polytechnic Institute, which won the $500 second-place prize; and Central Connecticut State University, which received the $250 third-place prize.