Help Me Find Consulting Projects for my Business & Technology Students!

by cv harquail on August 15, 2011

I am so excited about the class I’m teaching this fall that I’m breaking down the Chinese wall between serious topical blog posts and the practical fun of my work life, to post this Call for Projects for my students.

I’m hoping that some of you readers in the New York/ New Jersey/Hoboken area may know someone, or some organization, that would be interested in sponsoring a team of student consultants who are ready to help you with a business & technology challenge.  Read on for the details, share widely, and let me know if you’re interested.

Also, if you’d like to be a guest speaker for the class (Thursdays 4 to 6), let me know. I’ll put up a separate post for that.  Many many thanks in advance for your help.

Call For Projects:
Consulting Practicum in Business & Technology 411/412

The Faculty of the Howe School of Technology Management in Stevens Institute of Technology is seeking projects that combine business and technology challenges for student teams in our 4th Year Consulting Practicum, over the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 sessions.

We are looking for projects where multi-disciplinary teams of 5 students can consult with your organization in a way that contributes towards your business while challenging the students with important, real world business and technology issues.

We are hoping to identify several potential projects by the first week of September 2011.

 How the Practicum Projects Work

 Project Sponsors identify a business problem or opportunity, often with a technology component, where they’d like fresh eyes, thoughtful analysis, a strategic plan, and support for executing that plan.  Sponsors provide student teams with general direction, access to information and key stakeholders, and occasional advice. Student teams meet with the Sponsor to agree on project deliverables, to get a midpoint update, and to receive the team’s analysis and recommendations (in Fall 2011). Teams will work with sponsors to execute plans (in Spring 2012).

Students’ work on your project is supervised by Stevens faculty. The student team’s work on your project will be supported by weekly class sessions, where students will develop their consulting, project management, and business planning skills. And, each week the students will ‘workshop’ their project with other student teams so that they can draw on the insights of their peers. Students may also be advised by faculty members with relevant business and technology expertise.

Benefits of Sponsoring a Practicum Project

Organizations that sponsor a Practicum Project gain:

  • Focused, dedicated work on projects that address a specific issue important to you
  • Leading edge thinking and practice from student teams, supported by the intellectual and professional resources of the Howe School of Business and Stevens community
  • Data, analyses and recommendations, as well as support with project execution

Your organization will benefit from the efforts of a diversely talented student team who will bring new insight, great enthusiasm, technical expertise, and a can-do attitude to your business challenge.  The students will draw on their coursework and their practical experience, as well as the resources of the Stevens community, to address your business challenge.

Sponsors will enjoy the chance to contribute to the students’ learning and help to develop a new generation of business & technology leaders. And, you’ll contribute to the Stevens community as a business liaison.

Types of Consulting Projects We Seek

Practicum projects can run the gamut from conceptual questions (e.g., is there a market for this tool?) to execution plans (e.g., how can we get this technology adopted by reluctant users?).  While we especially encourage projects that have some technology component, the role of technology depends on the specific business challenge. Projects may have:

–       Technology as a component of the recommendation (e.g., how can we use social media to raise community awareness?)

–       Technology as the expected product, where the team’s challenge is to design something to meet a market or community need

–       Technology as the presenting problem, where the team’s challenge is to find better ways to use tools, systems or data, or

–       Technology as the business opportunity itself, (e.g., a product to be commercialized) where the team helps turn the technology into a business.

 For projects that may have no specific “technology” component at the outset, the student team will identify whether and where technology might make a difference.

(For ideas, please see the list of brief descriptions of previous projects, below.)

 Practicum projects may involve any functional areas of your organization — including HR/OD, strategy, marketing, engineering, finance, R&D, or operations.  The Sponsor and Student Team, with the help and approval of the Practicum faculty, will craft a project that furthers both the objectives of your organization and the learning goals of the Business & Technology Program.

Do you have an interesting business challenge that you’d like help with?

If you have a business challenge – especially one with a technology component – that might be appropriate for a Practicum and you would like to sponsor a student team, we would love to talk with you.

Please email the Practicum faculty member, Dr. CV Harquail, at  Please tell us:

  • Your name, title, preferred email address and phone number
  • Business/organization name
  • A 2-3 sentence description of the organizational issue that you think a student team might address for you
  • Any questions you might have about the practicum process

We’ll work with you to scope the project to fit your needs.

Previous Projects Have Included:

–       Developing a marketing & adoption plan for a public service smartphone app

–       Creating a sales & marketing plan for a 3-D imaging machine, including market analysis, customer identification (lead generation), and developing print & video marketing materials

–       Developing a Customer Relationship Management System (a digital application) for a local retailer, in part by extracting data from a point of sale system, and in part by understanding local customers and consumption trends.

–       Conducting a feasibility analysis for a technology derived from a faculty member’s patent, and then developing a full start-up business plan

–       Creating a ‘green business plan’ for an organization competing for grant money

–      Developing a community emergency preparedness plan, with a focus on delivering emergency supplies, including site recommendations and supply inventory levels

–       Developing a social media strategy for a community services organization, with a corresponding plan for supporting this strategy with revised staff roles and training

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