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Undergraduate Case Competition Sparks Student Innovation

Tampa, FL (October 30, 2012) — Have you ever gone up to an airline counter with an overloaded bag, wishing you could just mail the unnecessary items home and avoid the baggage fees?

Case Competition Winners

So have the winners of the latest Muma College of Business Undergraduate Case Competition, who recommended that this semester's case company Delta Air Lines partner with UPS to increase customer satisfaction.

The group, which included finance senior Faviola Alejo, management senior Amy Carsner, international business senior Thiago Hoffman, and management senior Brendan Reilly, beat out three other student teams for first place in the competition.

The students were tasked with coming up with a way to strategically position Delta to grow its market share in the airline industry. All the groups worked on the project from 8:30 a.m. Friday morning until their presentations on Saturday, working through the wee hours of the morning.

The winning group's plan, to phase out Delta's current express package program, DASH, and allow UPS to operate kiosks in the airport so that customers could avoid overweight baggage fees, won the judges' commendations for its uniqueness and thorough research. The team recommended that Delta charge a 44 cent per pound fee on top of UPS shipping charges to generate revenue. The winning team members were awarded $500 each.

"Your presentation was really well laid out, and you definitely took some risks," said Mike Randolfi, a Muma College of Business alumnus and senior vice president and controller for Delta.

Although the judging panel -- which also included USF alumnus and corporate attorney Jason Liu, retired United States Air Force Major General and former Lockheed-Martin executive John Schoeppner, and Delta finance executive Ken Coggin -- had questions about whether the plan would truly be profitable for the company, they said the group's persuasiveness and passion won them over.

"Overall, you convinced me that UPS with Delta could definitely work," said competition judge Maggie Butler, a recent graduate of the college and a financial analyst with Delta. Butler's team won this same case competition this past spring, when the subject company was the Tampa Bay Rays.

"I feel honored that you believed in our presentation," team member Carsner told the judges. "We haven't been to sleep for 31 hours. I don't know if I'm dreaming right now."

Other business students who were selected to participate in the competition were information systems management senior Aaron Bennett, information systems management senior Gerald Harrison, finance senior Christopher Wirth, finance senior Khariala Diebate, marketing senior Steven Infield, management senior Minh Phu, marketing senior Sara Takiedine, accounting senior Britney Bandel, marketing senior Christina Hughes, international business and finance senior Brittney McLeod, and accounting senior Samantha Newland.

All of the students are turning the case competition experience into advance undergraduate research credit, and will present their teams' research to the Undergraduate Research Office Dec. 7.

Management Professor Mike Bowen, who co-organizes and chairs the competitions, said he asks the judges each time whether they would have participated in such a competition if they had the chance when they were in college. More often than not, he said, they respond that they would not have had the courage to have done so.

"There's something different about the students who apply from those who don't," Bowen said. "That's why it means so much to the students' careers to have participated in one of the competitions. The judges really respect them for having had the courage to stick their necks out."