Hillsdale College’s two teams came in second place in their respective divisions on Monday at THEProject, a collegiate project-management competition sponsored by the Western Michigan Project Management Institute.
Nine Hillsdale students made the trek to the Grand Rapids area to present their solutions to malnutrition in poorer areas of Michigan through community farming. Judges scored teams from seven Michigan universities on the quality of their presentations and solutions as well as their use of proper project-management techniques. Michigan Technological University took first place.
“The scores were all very tight,” Assistant Professor of Management Douglas Johnson said. “I think it was a coin flip as to who went on to the finals.”
Last year, Hillsdale’s team took first place at THEProject, winning $5,000 for the team members and an additional $5,000 for the college.
“I think people are learning from us,” Johnson said. “I sat and I watched all of the finalist teams present, and I think our team was as good as anybody that went to the finals.”
Both of Hillsdale’s teams presented unique solutions to the problem of malnutrition in Michigan. One group focused on Kalkaska County, near Traverse City in Northern Michigan. The USDA has identified Kalkaska County as a food desert, meaning people living in the county have a limited access to healthful and fresh foods because of a lack of quality grocery stores.
“The team wanted to establish a community farm in Kalkaska County that would not only service the local community but also sell produce to the farm-to-table tourist restaurants in Traverse City,” Johnson said.
Hillsdale’s other team presented its idea of creating an app that would allow community farms to market their products and services as well as allow farms to share their expertise with people who might want to access those community farms.
The participating students registered for a three-credit, 400-level course on project management to prepare for THEProject. Monday’s presentations were the culmination of three months of work beginning a week before the semester started.
“Officially, that was their final,” Johnson said. “Things just didn’t go our way this time. They may have gotten tired of us winning.”