New Kensington students participate in collegiate challenge competition

December 11, 2018

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – A team of four Penn State New Kensington students traveled to Penn State Lehigh Valley to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real-world case competition to solve a significant business opportunity for a company. The team faced off against four other teams of students in the Council for Retail and Sales (CRS) regional case competition sponsored this year by Sherwin-Williams.

"Experiences like this have so many benefits like networking, resume building, and more! I think challenging yourself outside of the classroom academically is always a great opportunity to really see if you can apply what you’re learning."

- Brandon Fello, senior, project and supply chain management

Teams from Penn State Abington, Penn State Lehigh Valley and Penn State Scranton joined the New Kensington campus in representing Penn State. The fifth team hailed from Sweet Briar College in Virginia. New Kensington’s team was comprised of Brandon Fello, Joe Semler, Brandon Weltz and Julia Westerman and advised by Rujirutana Mandhachitara, associate professor of business and economics and program coordinator for the campus' business program.

“We were tasked with creating new marketing campaign ideas for Sherwin-Williams to help them strengthen their position in their “residential repaint” market segment,” explained Westerman, a senior majoring in business. “In this analysis, we created over a dozen recommendations for the company ranging from an app using augmented reality, to more simple ideas like continuing their already innovative product creating process.”

Teams were judged on a written plan, a store visit and presentation of their plan.

“Our thinking was, ‘How many of us encounter some problem and can’t get an answer right away?’ and our apps aimed to help people get quick solutions to problems applicable to repainting their homes,” added Fello, a senior project and supply chain management major. “Our presentation went over extremely well.”

The team from Penn State Scranton walked away with the victory at the end of the competition.

Although the New Kensington team didn’t reign victorious, the team learned from the valuable, real-world experience and the judges’ feedback. Each judge was from Sherwin-Williams. 

“We had a great project, and the only criticism we received was that we maybe had too many ideas,” said Fello. “After meeting with the judges, they complemented several of our ideas.”

Westerman continued, “I definitely feel like a stronger public speaker thanks to this competition. Getting the practice of presenting in front of them [the judges] was quite valuable.”

The case competition was an academic extra-curricular activity presented to the students by Mandhachitara. Both Fello and Westerman feel fortunate to have gone through the event and recommend participation to other students if presented with similar opportunities.

“For anyone not sure about entering such a competition, I would say that taking a chance is always well worth it if you’re willing to commit time and effort to the project and your teammates,” said Fello, who plans to graduate in May and become a logistics and or supply chain professional. “Experiences like this have so many benefits like networking, resume building, and more! I think challenging yourself outside of the classroom academically is always a great opportunity to really see if you can apply what you’re learning.”

“Any activities like this, even if they seem minor or irrelevant, are things that you can include on your resume,” added Westerman, who is thinking about pursuing an MBA after graduating from Penn State in December.

Last Updated December 11, 2018