Continued from “Swimming in the Deep End.”Philadelphia City Hall

Just before the clock atop Philadelphia’s City Hall struck 10 on Tuesday morning, in accordance with the hackathon rules, all four teams pressed “send” to submit their presentations. In two more hours the presentations would begin; until then, there is still time for the students to practice, practice, practice!

The Innovation Learning Theater at the CoreNet Global Summit had drawn a good crowd, but with lunch also being served just outside the theater, would the presentations be enough to hold the attention of the professionals in the audience? Would the students project their voices effectively? It’s time to get the presentations started (hyperlinks below will take you to each of the team’s presentations in the Knowledge Center).

The University of Houston team was the first team to present. Four MBA candidates and an undergraduate business major comprised the Houston team which drew the manufacturing industry to study. Benjamin Goss, James Greene, Shane Gossard, Franco Rivero, and Ross Perez recommended a combination of physical space enhancements, dynamic spaces, and change management principles as part of their solution to the challenge.

As the first team to present, naturally they faced the steepest learning curve relative to the venue and microphone, but they did a great job and the audience grew. The students faced additional pressure as each team was limited to no more than 15 minutes to present followed immediately by no more than 5 minutes of questions from the judges. A timekeeper kept everything on schedule because overtime was not an option.

Next came the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay team. Electrical Engineering undergraduate students Sudipto Mitra, Yuvraj Singh, and Mredul Sarda were joined by Mechanical Engineering undergrad Sandipan Bala to form the only team formed entirely by undergraduates. They incorporated analytics into their presentation and proposed a neural network strategy in addition to several innovative initiatives driven to improve gender equality in their high-technology organization.

As with the Houston team, the judges were impressed, and asked several questions of the students. By now, the seats were filled and the audience was spilling into the surrounding area.

Eindhoven University of Technology was next. Master’s degree candidates Arlette Vrusch, Sharon Vosters, Elise Wijnker, Elaine Kieboom, and Lana Trepels, all studying Urban Systems, Real Estate, and Management & Engineering, formed the competition’s first all-female team; they drew the insurance industry. Starting with the premise of “the workplace as a destination, not a requirement,” the students integrated results of a survey they distributed to CoreNet Global Summit attendees, in addition to other industry data, into their response.

Similarly impressed, the judges asked their questions and offered guidance to the team including that non-millennial generations were best not described as “elderly;” this was a nice sign that the judges were enjoying the presentations.

Last, but not least, was the team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Nicholas Bartholomew, Ines Andrade, Logan Walker, Zach Tuczak, and Esther Cho, representing Economics, Architecture, and Urban Planning, recommended a solution for their finance organization proposing business practices that develop a team of problem solvers, technological integration which connects employees to their environment, and employee well-being to foster a supportive community within the workplace, among other improvements.

After a few questions, the judges departed to deliberate and select the winner. With so many strong presentations, the judges were in the unenviable position of choosing only one from among four strong teams.

View Pictures from the Final Presentations Here

Later that evening, at the CoreNet Global Awards & Recognition Dinner, all four teams were brought to the front of the room for the announcement of the winner. Board member Bill Roberts, Michael Casolo representing competition sponsor Cushman & Wakefield, and CoreNet Global VP for University & External Relations, Dean Jordan joined former CoreNet Global Board Chair Randy Smith on stage as he announced that the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign had won the competition!

The team received US$5,000, and the university will receive US$5,000 to support corporate real estate education.

CoreNet Global congratulates all the teams, and is grateful to Cushman & Wakefield for their sponsorship and all the volunteers who gave so generously of their time and talent to make the competition such a success!