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Honors Council holds case competition for School of Engineering students

 – Photo by Nikhilesh De

Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity, won the Homecoming Charity Bed Races for two years in a row. The Rutgers Engineering Honors Council (REHC) now wants to create a new tradition to unite School of Engineering students.

REHC held a case competition in the Computing Research and Education Building on Friday night to see if students could establish a potential event or idea to fill this need, said Vineet Shenoy, a School of Engineering sophomore.

“The main topic is about the Rutgers 250 tradition. What should we start here at the School of Engineering (and) what traditions ... can really unite the community?” he said. “So we want to look at what distinguishes Rutgers and what’s something we do that makes us unique or defines who we are.”

During case studies, students are given a set amount of time and some information to answer a question provided by the competition hosts, said Shenoy, the event planner. The REHC contest would ask students to create a new tradition that would unite School of Engineering members.

The two-hour long analysis period would let students look up traditions at other schools and relate them to Rutgers, he said. They would also be given packets explaining past traditions at the school, including Cane Rushes, Cremation Exercises, the Homecoming Bed Races and the Rutgers-Princeton cannon war.

“Our main goal is to have them work in a team, analyze a case, think on their feet (and) practice critical thinking skills — basically skills that will translate well into the workplace,” he said. “The other goal is to look at our identity here and see what can foster that.”

Each team could have up to four people, he said.

At the end of the first period teams presented their solutions to judges, all of whom were School of Engineering alumni, he said. The teams were split into three divisions, with the top two from each advancing to the second round of judging.

While the first round had one judge per division, the second round saw all three judges. The winners received Starbucks gift cards.

Students would be judged based both on their ideas and their presentation, Shenoy said. The grading syllabus included a “questions” section, to test how well different team members could answer queries in the middle of their talk.

They were also required to stay within ten minutes for the presentation, he said. There was no minimum time for each speech.

“We’re mainly looking for people to practice many of the soft skills they need in a work environment,” he said. “So (we’re looking at) their teamwork, how well they’re presenting their material, if their ideas are insightful (and) what they can do given a case and a short amount of time.”

The purpose of a new tradition should be to unite students, said Aldi Dinoshi, a School of Engineering junior. To create a new one, the target audience should be a key focus.

“It has to be something everyone can do, (for example) if it’s purely athletic not everyone can do it,” he said. “It has to be something people want to come back and be interested in.”

Dinoshi is a member of Alpha Pi Mu (APM), the Industrial Engineering Department’s honor society.

An event that is mentally challenging without being too physically taxing would be ideal, said Kevin Tunney, a School of Engineering junior and another member of APM. The event should also allow students to represent their departments.

While students will run and participate in University traditions, the school itself should have some type of involvement, he said. At least, the events should be promoted by the school.

“Rutgers should definitely get behind (these traditions) because that way it’ll have a lasting base,” Dinoshi said. “To get (one) started, to get ... many students involved will be difficult, but Rutgers is already connected to students.”

Representatives from the Engineering Honors Academy Class of 2019, Jessica Tauzon, Morgan Taylor, Oren Merhav and Nick Bonini, won first place, he said. They proposed creating a booth festival in the spring, where each department would try to impress alumni by creating themed stalls relating to their respective departments. 

Because this was the REHC’s first attempt at hosting a case competition, only honors students in the School of Engineering were allowed to attend, Shenoy said. Future events may be bigger depending on the success of this one.

“Hopefully we can expand this with more people,” he said. “We’re trying to make meaningful change in our community.”

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