Center for Business Excellence Kicks-Off Duke Energy Inter-University Case Competition

November 2012

Student team representatives and faculty from Indiana University, Miami University, and University of Cincinnati convened at Duke Energy's Envision Center to attend the official launch of the Duke Energy/CBE Inter-University Case Competition. The competition, managed by the Center for Business Excellence at the Farmer School, was funded by a $175,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation Board, in partnership with Duke Energy executives.

This year's case focuses on helping customers better understand their energy usage under the National Green Button Initiative. The case was co-developed by Ballou, Heitger, and Tom Crist, who is the Director of Miami University's Institute for the Environment & Sustainability.

The Kick-Off event included a tour of Duke Energy's Envision Center, which features an interactive demonstration of how the smart grid helps enhance energy efficiency during the generation and transmission of electricity and how energy-efficient homes of tomorrow will be able to better help customers manage their energy usage.

The Competition provides a valuable experiential learning opportunity for business and non-business students from three universities under the guidance of faculty leaders John Talbott (Department of Marketing, Indiana), Devon DelVecchio (Department of Marketing, Miami), and Ralph Brueggemann (Department of Management, Cincinnati). Student teams will work with Duke Energy managers and directors to develop viable business strategies and Duke Energy professionals will judge the competition at several stages throughout the competition in a process similar to Duke Energy's New Product Development Process.

In April, 2013, the top team from each university will reconvene at Miami for a two-day event to present their solutions to Duke Energy executives and other business leaders. All three teams will have the opportunity to interview for an internship with Duke Energy and the winning teams will receive cash awards.

"This competition yields two key benefits. Duke Energy receives multiple strategic alternatives and insight from many of the brightest students in the tri-state area." CBE Co-Director Brian Ballou said.

David M. Szymanski, Dean of UC's Lindner College, noted "our future business leaders increasingly need cross-functional expertise to succeed. That is why real world team projects such as this are an integral part of the Lindner educational experience."

"Student participants learn how to approach complex business situations by combining their area of expertise with others. Understanding the benefit of diverse perspectives is a critical skill in an increasingly inter-connected business environment." CBE Co-Director Dan Heitger added.

"Experiential learning programs such as this case competition are fundamental to the Farmer School educational experience" said Roger L. Jenkins, Dean and Mitchell P. Rales Chair in Business Leadership of the Farmer School of Business at Miami University. "We highly value our partnership with Duke Energy and thank them for their generous support."

The case competition is only one facet of the project. The case and several of the teams' final presentations will be converted to materials oriented to high school science curricula. The vision is for students in education at one or more of the schools participating in the competition to help in this process. Karen Monday, Vice President, Foundation and Business Management for Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky explained, "This program provides an excellent opportunity for the Duke Energy Foundation to meet several of its objectives, including seeking alternative energy solutions from some of today's brightest college students and enhancing K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education."