Undergraduate students from the University of Maryland’s QUEST honors program took center stage on Oct. 7, 2017, as they pitched their ideas to a panel of IBM judges. In celebration of the program’s 25th anniversary, IBM partnered with Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) to introduce the monthlong design challenge.
QUEST started in 1992 as a response to IBM’s call for programs in which college students could learn total quality principles in multidisciplinary environments. The Robert. H. Smith School of Business and the A. James Clark School of Engineering proposed a program, and IBM granted the funds to create IBM-TQ (now QUEST).
Now incorporating UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences as well, the QUEST program facilitates an environment for students in these three schools to engage in experience-based learning. QUEST program manager Jessica Macklin says fellows participate in a challenging course of study that focuses on quality management, process improvement and system design through teamwork and co-curricular programming.
The IBM Design Challenge culminated with Shark Tank-like pitches on the day of QUEST’s 25th anniversary gala. Seven teams of four to five students, each with three to four QUEST alumni mentors, had been working on their responses to the theme of the challenge, “The World is Flat: Products and Services that Reduce the Separation of People,” since Sept. 7, 2017.
QUEST students who participated in the competition listed working with QUEST friends and alumni, sharpening their skills and connecting with IBM as their favorite parts of the challenge. “I decided to participate in the challenge because I wanted to gain more connections with IBM and work with people from multiple disciplines within UMD,” said Jacqueline Deprey, a supply chain student scheduled to graduate in 2020.
“The design challenge gave me the opportunity to turn an abstract prompt into feasible, realistic results,” said Barret Rus, a finance student scheduled to graduate in 2020.
The winning team, The International Businessmen, consisted of Conor Casey, an aerospace engineering student scheduled to graduate in 2019; Tim Chen, a computer science and finance student scheduled to graduate in 2019; Cameron Harner, a bioengineering student scheduled to graduate in 2018; Varun Mohan, a computer engineering student scheduled to graduate in 2018; and Jeffery Zhao, a finance and information systems student scheduled to graduate in 2019.
The team created an online resource called “JusThis” for people who seek to file a small claim. The winners will receive a chance to visit the IBM Watson Global Headquarters in New York City later this semester.
— Mamayaa Opoku, Smith School communications writer
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