Lauren Black, class of 2019 accounting and information systems double major, writes about the QUEST Annual Conference held at the University of Maryland on Dec. 7, 2017.
On Dec. 7, seven QUEST teams from Cohort 26 presented their findings and recommendations for their capstone project at the bi-annual QUEST Conference at the University of Maryland. Each team of four-to-five students from varying schools and majors put countless hours into delivering phenomenal presentations that blew the crowd, especially their clients, away.
Over the past semester, QUEST teams were paired with real businesses that had real problems they needed to be solved. Some of these businesses include Constellation, Leidos and more. Each project featured different problems and solutions, but all of the groups surrounded their recommendations on one of the three QUEST’s focal points: quality management, process improvement and system design.
The night began with the poster sessions, where guests were able to walk around and see each team proposal on their respective posters. While they made their way around the vast array of demonstrations, people also enjoyed the delicious spread of hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Next, the conference split into two rooms, where each QUEST group showcased their final recommendations. The evening concluded with awarding the most outstanding capstone, which was won by the Caterpillar Effect group.
Caterpillar Inc. came to these students with their problem; people were wasting time logging in with traditional passwords so they needed a new password alternative to increase user satisfaction. Through their intensive research, the Caterpillar Effect group proposed facial recognition as a primary password method.
Rohan Bajaj, senior finance major in the winning group, explained how he has been waiting for this night since his sophomore year. “I applied to QUEST mainly for this course, so I had been looking forward to getting into it.” Rohan’s excitement exuded through the audience, as him and his teammates presented their hard work.
His teammate Chloe Berman, senior marketing major, came into the capstone project knowing she had big shoes to fill. “There is a lot more at stake working with real clients who are expecting real results from our work,” Chloe explained. “I remember sophomore year coming into the program and watching the current 490 teams presenting their capstone project, and wondering how on earth we would be able to do the same.” Needless to say, the Caterpillar Effect group exceeded expectations and blew the crowd away with their work.
QUEST is one of the most unique learning opportunities for students to work will real clients to solve real-world problems outside of their regular academics. It provides the perfect space for students to develop problem solving skills in a group of diverse individuals.
This invaluable consulting opportunity has a real impact on real clients.
For more information about QUEST, visit: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/QUEST. Freshmen interested in applying should look for the QUEST application to open later this week.