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L-R: Ethan Harms, Habiba Mahmoud, Kenny May and Mustafa Khan. Photo by David Lipnowski

UM students collaborate to bring home case competition gold

Asper School of Business and Price Faculty of Engineering students win first at ENGCOMM

April 30, 2024 — 

Undergraduate students Ethan Harms, Habiba Mahmoud, Kenny May and Mustafa Khan travelled to Montréal in February to compete at the Engineering and Commerce Case Competition (ENGCOMM), the world’s only student-led multidisciplinary case competition.

ENGCOMM brings together students from engineering and business for a hands-on learning experience, tackling timely issues at the intersection of technology and commerce. Teams worked on three cases, from automating and monitoring aircraft repair to cleaning space debris, culminating in a final case about how drones could be used to fight wildfires in Canada.

The competition was grueling; students had six hours each for the first two cases, and an intense twelve hours to prepare their final presentation. Habiba Mahmoud, who is studying computer engineering, describes the team’s motivation amid the competition’s mounting pressure.

“We felt the responsibility of representing the Price Faculty of Engineering and Asper School of Business on an international stage. Our main goal was to showcase our faculties and university as best as we could, while focusing on personal growth and learning. Winning first place was a wonderful surprise that added to our experience. I believe our success came from this shared goal and dedication.”

As representatives of UM, the team showcased insight, talent, strategic thinking, technical savvy and exceptional presentation skills. As Marcia Friesen, P.Eng., PhD, FEC, FCAE, Dean of the Price Faculty of Engineering, notes, the team also demonstrated the longstanding legacy of this inter-faculty partnership.

“The ENGCOMM competition is a great example of collaboration across Faculties, and it is evidence of the powerful combination when business and engineering minds get together. Our team comprised of students from the Asper School of Business and the Price Faculty of Engineering who have found a lot of success in this competition over the years, and I’m very pleased to support such opportunities.”

Bruno Silvestre, PhD, Dean of the Asper School of Business, adds that the students’ win demonstrates the value of experiential learning, embraced by both faculties.

“Experiential learning opportunities prepare students for the realities of the business world—a business world that is interdisciplinary and multifaceted. We are very proud of this successful collaboration between the Asper School of Business and the Price Faculty of Engineering. Through this initiative, our students can learn by doing, test their skills across areas and get better prepared for the challenges they will face in the job market. Congratulations to Ethan, Kenny, Habiba and Mustafa for representing UM so well and earning this first-place victory!”

Kenny May, an accounting and finance major at Asper, explains how the competition enriched not just what students learn, but also how they learn. The team was coached by Nish Balakrishnan [BSc/12, MSc/15] from the Price Faculty and Bhaumik Gandhi [MBA/19] from the Asper School, and supported by Trent Vos, Judith Jayasuriya [BComm(Hons)/10, BA/12, MBA/14], Shannon Campbell, Kevin Klimchuk [BSc/23] and Adriana Ong.

“Our coaches’ feedback allowed us to put things in perspective and open our eyes to new ways of thinking. When you’re working so closely on your solution, it’s easy to take your approach for granted, but when you’re challenged to explain your thought process, you see gaps more clearly and the choices you could still make.”

Beyond rethinking their own solution, both Mahmoud and May express the value of working with students from other disciplines, from being able to balance “solutions that weren’t just technically sound, but also feasible,” as Mahmoud explains, to getting a glimpse into the student experience of another faculty, as May articulates. “I think that was a highlight for me: also seeing how our experiences of UM were similar and different,” he says.

As the students celebrate an impressive win, they can also celebrate the realization of their shared goal to represent UM well, living up to a vision of inter-faculty collaboration, interdisciplinary knowledge exchange, innovative and practical training for future careers and an investment in student success.

ENGCOMM represents the close ties between engineering and business and reflects the reality of the business landscape today.

For students interested in learning more about the productive synergy between business and engineering, the IDEA Student Presentation featuring Gerry Price is sure to impress. A Manitoba business icon with close ties to the Asper School and namesake of the Faculty of Engineering, Price will share his career journey in an intimate, student-focused session. RSVP here to this exclusive event taking place at the Asper School of Business on May 30, 2024.

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