Smith Evolution Competition Cultivates New Ideas on
For many full-time MBA students their two-year experience passes by in a
frenzied flash. When they leave business school they have a valuable degree, a
great job and an amazing network. Their school has had a profound impact on
them, but have they had the opportunity to make a lasting impact on their
This year, two full-time MBA students at the University of Maryland’s Robert
H. Smith School of Business had the idea to create the Smith Evolution
Competition as a way for members of the Smith community to identify a relevant
issue and suggest innovative and feasible solutions. This year’s event was held
on April 29, 2012, and teams tackled the subject of “engagement.”
“Engagement was chosen for this year's theme because we believe increased
engagement will result in a more passionate community and a corresponding rise
in the rankings,” said Andrew Cole, MBA candidate 2013 and co-founder of the
The goals of the competition are to provide a forum for students to promote
their creative ideas; connect various stakeholders in positive collaboration;
challenge students, faculty, alumni, and staff to engage in creating value; and
leave a legacy from which future generations will participate and benefit.
Six teams – which included current MBA students, alumni, faculty, and staff –
submitted proposals and presented at the event. Recommendations included: new
online communities, engagement via Twitter, small-group faculty/student dinners
and outings, an idea greenhouse, and community newsletters.
"As I watched each team present, a sense of appreciation flooded my mind and
I couldn't help but smile,” said Robert Russell, MBA candidate 2013 and
co-founder of the competition. “It was clear that the students I study with here
at the Smith School are incredibly capable, as well as true practitioners of
innovation and excellence. I’m proud to be a part of their community. I was
reminded that our actions as founders of the Smith Evolution Competition pale in
comparison to what these teams were accomplishing on stage. Their ideas will be
a spark that helps to reignite the passion and connection all Smith MBA
community members feel for this program. This is only the beginning!"
The panel of judges consisted of deans, students, faculty, and alumni: Vice
Dean Hugh Courtney; Assistant Dean of Marketing Communications Ken White;
Assistant Professor of Finance Michael Faulkender; Smith Alumnus Keyvan Moussavi,
MBA '08; and MBA Association President Cara Weikel.
“We felt each proposal had significant merit so judging was extremely
difficult,” said White. “Coming to a consensus was challenging especially after
seeing the passion and commitment each group had for our school. The judges were
so inspired by the ideas and presentations that, for a time, we forgot about
deliberating and, instead, we discussed engagement and idea implementation.”
In the end, the general consensus was that all of the teams came out winners
because each of the ideas has already sparked a positive change in engagement.
The winning team was “Beast to Man” – an idea greenhouse, online idea management
system. “Tabula Rasa” was second with their idea to increase faculty/student
engagement by hosting small-group events. Team “#yeaBuddy” was third with their
idea to improve Klout and social media skills to better engage the community.
Congratulations go out to all of the participants for their hard work and
dedication to enhancing engagement in the Smith community. The Smith School
administration looks forward to working with the winning team on their online
idea management system.
Alissa Arford, Office of Marketing Communications
About the Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader
in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the
University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate,
full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive
education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The
school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning
locations in North America and Asia.