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Experiential Learning Center


Projects ~ Fall 2013

Ronald McDonald House Charities

Topic: Financial Modeling
Meeting Time: 3:30 - 4:45 pm T/Th
Faculty and Assistant Coaches: Tamara Phelan

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. Guiding us in our mission are our core values:

  • Focusing on the critical needs of children.
  • Celebrating the diversity of the programs we offer and the staff, volunteers and donors who make them possible.
  • Staying true to our heritage of 38 years of responsible stewardship.
  • Operating with accountability and transparency.

RMHC currently has a financial modeling tool that the local RMHC Chapters are required to fill out when they are going to either expand their Ronald McDonald House or build a new one. The purpose of the tool is to help Chapters determine whether they will be able to afford the expansion costs as well as the additional operational expenses. The current tool is way too detailed and complicated. The goal for the ELC team is to design a new financial modeling tool that accomplishes the same goal, but is much easier to understand and complete.

The project requires knowledge of Microsoft Excel and accounting concepts.


Turning Point

Topic: Social Media and Strategic Initiatives
Meeting Time: 2 - 3:15 pm M/W
Faculty Coach: Dr. Mark Rosenbaum

Turning Point, Inc. is a crisis intervention 501 (c) 3 non-profit agency with a mission to confront violence against women and children in McHenry County, Illinois. Established in 1981, Turning Point served 1,754 clients in 2012 and responded to 5,228 crisis hotline and information calls. Its work provides life-changing and lifesaving services and secure shelter to those who suffer the horrific crime of violence perpetrated by those they should be most able to trust, and in homes that should be their safe haven.

Turning Point would like an ELC team to develop a social media initiative with a goal to cultivate and engage donors and volunteers who are new to the organization. In addition, the ELC team will develop a strategic initiative for a planned giving campaign that can be used to attract potential donors.

All majors may apply. Expertise in social media, advertising, and market research will be needed on the team. Financial expertise will assist in ascertaining costs of recommendations.


Illinois Section American Water Works Association

Topic: Increasing Awareness and Attracting Membership
Meeting Time: Project Kick-Off May 15. Summer meeting times TBD. Final presentation date, October 18, 2013 during the ISAWWA Board Meeting.
Faculty Coach: Dr. James Johnson

The Illinois Section of the American Water Works Association (ISAWWA) is dedicated to the promotion of public health and welfare in the provision of drinking water in sufficient quality and quantity. ISAWWA is proactive in advancing the technology, science, management, education, conservation, and government policies relative to the stewardship of water.

The ISAWWA leadership asked the ELC to tackle two questions. 1. How do we create increased awareness of the drinking water industry and its diverse and challenging career opportunities that are available? 2. How should we serve individuals who have embarked on a water career in the years ahead, and thereby promote the value of membership in our association? The ISAWWA leadership wants to have a better understanding of the interests and needs of the next generation of future members.

This project is ideal for students seeking an ELC project experience over the summer months. All majors may apply. Marketing and Human Resource Management expertise will be needed on the team.


TrueValue Company

Topic: Positioning True Value for continued success with a new generation of consumers and investors
Meeting Time: 2:00 - 3:15 pm M/W
Faculty Coach: Brian Bender

With our Destination True Value store format driving our growth, True Value Company is on the move and growing. We put our retailers' success at the heart of everything we do.

Our competitive edge: An organization with $1.8 billion-plus in annual revenue, more than 70,000 products, 12 distribution centers and extensive buying power. All the tools our entrepreneur-retailers need to be the best.

Our presence is worldwide. True Value's cooperative serves 54 countries with more than 5,000 stores and 3,000 associates. Many of our retailers enjoy a rich history spanning generations in their local communities. The True Value name is a trusted and recognized brand.

Whether operating as independent hardware stores or specialty business, our retailers are supported by the training, technology and retail support of an organization that strives to be the best in the industry. True Value stores are positioned to compete with the resources to deliver a compelling shopping experience, the most relevant product assortment and unparalleled customer service.

Although we have a rich history of success, we know that the future consumers and new True Value owners will look for different products and investment requirements than those being met today. With this in mind we are looking to increase our understanding of the changing requirements to best position ourselves as a relevant and profitable company into the future.

True Value would like to formally engage an ELC team to analyze the buying needs, preferences, capabilities and trends of the Gen X & Y consumer and potential store owners/investors. This analysis will provide insights we can employ to continue to grow profitably by providing relevant store formats, mix of products/services and investment opportunities to respond to changing demographics. All majors may apply.


Knaack LLC

Topic: Packaging Strategy
Meeting Time: 9:30 am - 10:45 T/TH
Faculty Coach: Dr. James Johnson

Knaack LLC is the leading provider of tool and material secure storage systems in JobSite, Truck, and Van applications for professional contractors. The company was founded over 50 years ago, and still operates its headquarters and manufacturing operations from Crystal Lake, Illinois. Knaack LLC is proud of its state-of-the-art metal working and finishing operations and the leading position its KNAACK® and WEATHER GUARD® brands have earned for durable, secure tool storage products.

Knaack LLC would like an ELC project team to assess the effectiveness of its product packaging. The Company believes that the packaging could be improved to support sales and marketing objectives and could reduce shipping damage, improving customer satisfaction. The ELC team will be asked to review best practices from the industry and benchmark Knaack packaging against other companies and products to make recommendations relating to process, cost, marketing, shipping and damage. .

The final deliverable will be a report on Product Packaging with a full cost benefit analysis and proforma P&L and balance sheet to support improvement recommendations.

The Knaack LLC team is excited to work with an ELC project group and will provide necessary data and history on products, packaging, claims and costs to facilitate the development of a successful business model. All majors can apply.

To learn more about KNAACK® and WEATHER GUARD® Equipment, visit us at KNAACK.com and WEATHERGUARD.com. Be sure to locate us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube using the keywords "Knaack" and "Weather Guard".

Projects ~ Spring 2013

Abbott Laboratories

Topic: Leveraging Technology to Improve Information on Patient Devices
Meeting Time: T/TH 2:00 to 3:15
Faculty and Assistant Coaches: Amit Patel

Abbott is a global, diversified healthcare company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals, nutritional products for children and adults, and medical products including devices, diagnostic tests and instruments. Abbott Nutrition International offers some of the world's most trusted brands in pediatric, therapeutic and performance nutrition. The company employs nearly 90,000 people and markets its products worldwide.

Abbott Nutrition International would like the ELC project team to research and recommend improvements within our processes and technologies when capturing the identity of feeding pumps in the field and in the distribution / returns process. We're looking to integrate revolutionary tracking techniques to enhance our data quality, as well as, the user's experience, when capturing the data and reporting the device information daily.

The goal will be to identify and provide recommendations for improvement on inefficiencies in the current process of capturing information. The team will also be asked to develop concepts for an application to hold and manage the captured data on mobile device technologies. As part of the proposal, we'd like the project team investigate competitors and emerging industry trends consumer, financial, healthcare economic/professional, clinical, and societal perspectives, along with new/emerging media and technology channels to achieve sustainable long-term momentum and value.

In summary, the ELC project will develop a comprehensive recommendation that will consider technology as a means to account for and capture data about feeding pumps in the field, in the repair process and in the distribution / returns process.


McDonald's

Topic: Examining the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to Work Phenomena and Information Technology Implications
Meeting Time: T/TH 9:30 to 10:45
Faculty Coach: Tamara Phalen

McDonald's is one of the world's most well-known and valuable brands. With 30,000 local restaurants in more than 119 countries, McDonald's serves over 60 million people each day.

McDonald's is interested in exploring how the digital movements will continue to affect its business. The ELC team will explore what Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work means to McDonald's. Many companies are struggling to understand, react, and adapt with no clear answers as to the ultimate model and tangible benefits. McDonald's is in the middle of modifying its strategy and would like to get a perspective from those about to enter the workforce regarding the traditional concerns of IT such as security, data protection, and privacy/personally identifiable information (Pii). McDonald's would also like to understand how new forms of technology fit into daily work and what capabilities are most important. The team should also explore creative ways the technology can be used and the impacts on the crew and customers.


Knaack

Topic: Business Plan and Strategy Development for Spare Parts/ Service Center
Meeting Time: T/TH 11:00 to 12:15
Faculty Coach: Shail Godambe

Knaack LLC is the leading provider of tool and material secure storage systems in JobSite, Truck, and Van applications for professional contractors. The company was founded over 50 years ago, and still operates its headquarters and manufacturing operations from Crystal Lake, Illinois. Knaack LLC is proud of its state-of-the-art metal working and finishing operations and the leading position its KNAACK® and WEATHER GUARD® brands have earned for durable, secure tool storage products.

Knaack LLC would like an ELC project team to develop a complete business strategy to carve out a service center/spare parts business unit from its other operations. The company envisions a space within the warehouse with dedicated personnel to house spare parts for rapid shipment, by expedited parcel shipment to end-users in the field. The ELC team will be asked to review best practices from the industry to develop a model for a service center and spare parts fulfillment center, making recommendations on parts lists, inventory strategy, warehouse and pick line layouts, operational costs, marketing, and pricing.

The final deliverable will be a Spare Parts business strategy document, with proforma P&Ls. The Knaack LLC team is excited to work with an ELC project group and will provide necessary data and history on product repair and maintenance requirements to facilitate the development of a successful business model. All majors can apply.


NIU College of Business

Topic: Market Analysis of Online Business Education
Meeting Time: M/W 2:00 to 3:15
Faculty Coach: Dr. Mark Rosenbaum

The College of Business at Northern Illinois University is actively evaluating growth opportunities for on-line course and degree offerings for both the graduate and undergraduate programs in business. To enhance the planning and decision making, the Dean's Office charged an ELC team to conduct a market analysis study to assess the demand, market size, and limitations of on-line higher education in business for programs throughout the College. The study should also provide a competitive analysis including emerging trends in on-line learning and benchmarking with peer institutions of the College.


Navistar

Topic: Make or Buy Analysis and Recommendations
Meeting Time: T/TH 11:00 to 12:15
Faculty Coach: Dr. James Johnson

Navistar International Corporation (NYSE: NAV) is a holding company whose subsidiaries and affiliates produce International® brand commercial and military trucks, MaxxForce® brand diesel engines, IC Bus™ brand school and commercial buses and Navistar RV brands of recreational vehicles. It also is a private-label designer and manufacturer of diesel engines for the pickup truck, van and SUV markets. The company also provides truck and diesel engine service parts. Another affiliate offers financing services.

Navistar would like an ELC team to analyze several commodity groups for potential sourcing into Navistar's production system. The team will need to be cross functional to develop and define manufacturing process (lean methodology), financial analysis (total cost including logistics) and viability of all projects. The projects will need to be developed and recommended based on alignment with Navistar's core processes, implementation costs, savings, and technology requirements. A launch plan and grouping will need to be established based on the criteria defined by the team. The projects will range from small painted parts in-sourcing to large projects such as module manufacturing and assembly. The expectation is that Navistar will implement all financially viable projects within a 12 month timeframe.

This project will require a two to three day on-site visit to the Navistar location in Springfield, OH over the semester break with the team and the coach.


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