Projects

You get an exclusive opportunity to serve as a consultant and work directly with the leaders of organizations on real-world business issues.  You will build valuable project management, communication, and presentation skills.

As a member of an Experiential Learning Center (ELC) team, you will work with a faculty or business professional coach and other NIU graduate and undergraduate students to tackle a challenge faced by a real organization.   ALL majors are encouraged to apply as projects need a cross-functional perspective. 

Remember HUSKIES get hired, HUSKIES who have project experience really get hired!!

Upcoming Projects

Spring 2020

W.W. Grainger, Inc. is a broad line, business-to-business distributor of maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) supplies and other related products and services. More than 3.5 million businesses and institutions worldwide rely on Grainger for products in categories such as safety, material handling and metalworking, along with services like inventory management and technical support. These customers represent a broad collection of industries, including commercial, government, healthcare and manufacturing. They place orders online, on mobile devices, through sales representatives, over the phone and at local branches. Approximately 5,000 suppliers provide Grainger with 1.7 million products stocked in the company’s distribution centers (DCs) and branches worldwide. Grainger employs 25,000 team members across the globe.

Grainger would like an ELC team to help enhance its go-to-market strategy for Sustainable products in our offering. We are looking for a team to help us develop a strategy that incorporates key areas such as:

  • Industry Reputation - how do we grow our industry reputation as a leader in Sustainability and who are the additional stakeholders who could benefit from Grainger's sustainability offer?
  • Customers - where are the places where our customers can become more sustainable - who is/are the correct customer segment(s) to focus our efforts on?
  • Suppliers – How can we use our programs to help our suppliers elevate their sustainable offering?
Topic

Growth Business Strategy | Market Research | Supply Chain

Meeting Time

Monday and Wednesday
9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Faculty Coach

TBD

Our goal is to provide nursing home patients with 24/7, immediate access to high quality medical care (particularly for times and locations where access is limited), thus reducing the vast number of unnecessary transfers to the hospital while at the same time improving overall quality of care.

One of the summary documents we used for a trade show had the following description. Do you like any of this language?

Our Business: We leverage telemedicine to retain and recover lost revenue, to enhance current revenue, to decrease costs by offsetting liability through risk management, and to secure new revenue through increased market penetration. We bridge financial management and clinical care for the health care industry. Maxwell Telecare brings the value to value-based care.

Our Service: To improve patient care and personal well-being by providing universal access to remote professional services and remote clinical technology, aligned with established provider systems. We are a medical practice leveraging digital technology to optimize and enhance healthcare.       

Maxwell Telecare would like a team of consultants to research the current market, the competitive landscape, and help Maxwell Telecare position themselves as the provider of choice for telemedicine services.  Maxwell Telecare would like a team of consultants to help plan their growth strategy as well as their financial model. 

Topic

Marketing Strategy | Competitive Analysis | Benchmarking | Growth Strategy | Financial Modeling

Meeting Time

Monday and Wednesday
9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Faculty Coach

TBD

The Northern Illinois Research Foundation (NIRF) is a not-for-profit organization (501(c) (3)) that seeks to contribute to and advance the educational, research, public service and economic development mission of Northern Illinois University.

NIRF would like an ELC team to develop a business plan for a new NIU spin-out company’s diagnostic and therapeutic technologies. In addition, a market analysis for future paths in the IP portfolio will be needed to move selected inventions with enough growth to sustain the business.  If you're interested in entrepreneurship, this is a great opportunity to gain an understanding of how to launch a newly developed product.

Topic

Marketing | Entrepreneurship | Business Plan Development

Meeting Time

Monday and Wednesday
2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Faculty Coach

Jason Gorham

Vous (pronounced VO) Vitamin prioritizes your health, starting with a lifestyle survey covering your wellness status and goals.  Your vitamin blend has been carefully chosen by two physicians who founded Vous Vitamin in 2014.  They created Vous to provide a solution that didn't’t exist in the market:  a custom multivitamin made of the optimal mix of vitamins and nutrients your body needs, without unnecessary ingredients, delivered directly to you each month.  With Vous you are getting quality you can trust. 

Vous Vitamins would like a team of consultants to evaluate the ideal corporate wellness-based vitamin program and define the program benefits and features that would add value to the corporate wellness customer.  Additionally, Vous Vitamins would like the consultant team to evaluate and recommend a prioritized focus of corporate targets with whom to partner and develop key marketing and messaging points best used to approach the target corporations.  Lastly, the consultants will explore the current landscape of benefit programs, evaluate the feasibility given the unit economics and competitive landscape and make recommendations on ways for Vous to maximize their opportunities.

Topic

Market Research | Financial Strategies | Customer Reach to include corporate partners

Meeting Time

Tuesday and Thursday
2:00 p.m.- 3:15 p.m.

Faculty Coach

TBD

The Shelby Group is a global leader in e-procurement platform implementation and optimization. With hundreds of platform implementations and support engagements to our credit, The Shelby Group’s expertise has consistently led to savings and performance improvement for our clients.  Each client organization’s culture, processes, and infrastructure are unique, which requires The Shelby Group to customize project plans to reflect that uniqueness. This can be extremely time-consuming and ultimately it makes macro-level analysis of project and team effectiveness impossible. If we cannot compare like entities, it becomes impossible to improve processes. Therefore, we have begun a process of consolidating project management processes and tools to provide increased project-to-project consistency.

The Shelby Group would like a team of consultants to evaluate the results of this consolidation, come up with new KPIs, and brainstorm new process standardization ideas to help increase effectiveness and efficiency in project execution.

Topic

Data Analytics | Business Strategy | KPI | Project Evaluation

Meeting Time

Monday and Wednesday
2:00 p.m.- 3:15 p.m.

Faculty Coach

TBD

Echo Global Logistics is a leading provider of technology-enabled transportation and supply chain management services. Echo offers freight brokerage and Managed Transportationsolutions for all major shipping modes, including truckload, partial truckload, LTL, intermodal, and expedited. Echo maintains a proprietary, web-based technology platform that compiles and analyzes data from its network of over 50,000 transportation providersto serve 35,000 clients across a wide range of industries and simplify the critical tasks involved in transportation management. Every day they coordinate more than 16,000 shipments while servicing clients from SMBs to the Fortune 500.

Echo connects businesses that need to ship their products with carriers who transport goods quickly, securely and cost-effectively. Established in 2005, Echo Global Logistics has one objective: to simplify transportation management from coast to coast, dock to dock, sothat shippers and carriers can focus on what they do best.Headquartered in Chicago with more than 30 offices around the country, Echo employs more than 2,300 team members.

Echo Global Logistics would like a team of consultants to help develop a better system for collecting, storing, and evaluating data as it pertains to the many employment applicationsthey receive each month.Echo would also like the team to build a better database system that will capture criteria for applicants to help expedite the interview and hiring processes.

Topic

HR Strategies | Data Analytics | Database Development | Data Collection

Meeting Time

Tuesday and Thursday
2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Faculty Coach

TBD

WeWarriors is a women-owned and operated company committed to offering solutions that make it possible for women to live life fully. Our mission is to enable and empower women to be their own, unique kind of warrior through the development of innovative, socially-responsible, and eco-friendly products. Creating the best solutions takes time, and we hope you will be as excited as we are about our startup. WeWarriors is committed to the customer experience and makes customer service a priority.

WeWarriors would like a team of consultants to advance the work from the first project team and include a strategy for a small startup company to expand its reach into the wholesale market.

Topic

Market Strategies | New Product Launch | Competitive Landscape | Marketing Opportunities | Data Collection | Web Design | Social Media | Business Strategies

Meeting Time

Tuesday and Thursday
9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Faculty Coach

Jacie Collum

TEK Consulting Company is a startup focused on developing innovative technology solutions.

TEK Consulting Company has a new product that is designed to make life easier. TEK Consulting would like an ELC team to evaluate the Global market arena, business plan strategies for a new product launch, and ways to enter the local market in a big way.

Topic

Marketing Strategies and Opportunities | New Product Launch | Competitive Landscape | Global Marketing Opportunities | More to Come

Meeting Time

Tuesday and Thursday
9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Faculty Coach

TBD

Apply Now

Current Projects

Fall 2019

CAAEL (pronounced kale) is a non-profit organization that has been engaging at-risk student since 1976.

CAAEL’s two-fold mission is:

1. To eliminate the critical interscholastic athletic and activity gap that's created when at-risk/special education students are removed from their regular school programs, and 2. To provide alternative school educators a powerful set of tools to build hope and change lives”.

CAAEL would like an ELC team to develop an awareness campaign to help raise community and regional awareness of the time proven services available. The awareness campaign will include a re-design of their current website along with recommendations from the team to ensure a powerful message is projected. CAAEL would like to strongly position their brand in a manner that extends their reach.

Topic

Awareness Campaign | Web Development | Marketing | Data Analytics

Meeting Time

Monday and Wednesday
2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Faculty Coach

Neil Doughty

Founded in 1996, Clover Technologies Group is the global leader in providing businesses with intelligent environmental solutions focused on the recovery, remanufacturing and remarketing of technology assets.

Through organic growth and strategic acquisitions, Clover has built a comprehensive and diverse solutions portfolio in the categories of imaging solutions, printer supplies and services and mobile device solutions. Clover is the world’s largest collector and recycler of imaging supplies. They provide resellers, mass merchants and value-added specialty suppliers throughout the world with customized and targeted recycling solutions. These innovative programs offer our partners an additional revenue stream while ensuring their customers the industry’s most advanced and environmentally responsible recycling solutions

Clover Tech believes in corporate social responsibility and we are in the process of defining this project in more detail. It will entail a marketing/sales component along with field research and data collection. The initial information will be related to universities

Topic

Marketing | Sales | Research | Data Collection

Meeting Time

Monday and Wednesday
9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Faculty Coach

Keith Nyquist

In 1955 Ray Kroc, a native Chicagoan, founded McDonald’s System, Inc., and opened the first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, IL. By 1958 McDonald’s had sold its 100 millionth hamburger. Ray Kroc wanted to build a restaurant system that would be famous for providing food of consistently high quality and uniform methods of preparation. He wanted to serve burgers, fries and beverages that tasted just the same in Alaska as they did in Alabama. He created the slogan “in business for yourself, but not by yourself”.

McDonald’s would like an ELC team help develop strategies to make the customer experience improved through innovative technology. This is a great opportunity to help drive the path for McDonald’s in the years to come. More details will be provided relating to this project as the semester approaches.

Topic

Strategy | Technology Development | more to come

Meeting Time

Tuesday and Thursday
9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Faculty Coach

Neil Doughty

WeWarriors is a women-owned and operated company committed to offering solutions that make it possible for women to live life fully. Our mission is to enable and empower women to be their own, unique kind of warrior through the development of innovative, socially-responsible, and eco-friendly products. Creating the best solutions takes time, and we hope you will be as excited as we are about our startup. WeWarriors is committed to the customer experience and makes customer service a priority.

WeWarriors would like and ELC team to create a specific marketing plan, awareness campaign, and business strategy that enables them to expand their reach. This may include a strategy to elevate brand recognition, a sales strategy component, all while managing the day to day obstacles that all startups face.

The goal of WeWarriors is to increase awareness in the market place and convert the marketing plan into revenue. They know they fill a niche for their target audience. However, they are not gaining traction in the market and need to get in front of the right people and provide compelling reasons to purchase products.

Topic

Business & Data Analytics | Financial strategies specific to a startup | Marketing Strategies

Meeting Time

Tuesday and Thursday
9:30 a.m.- 10:45 a.m.

Faculty Coach

Jacie Collum

Club Colors is a full-service brand management partner. Their suite of services allows them to impact the various roles a brand plays in its ecosystem in a way which increases the agility, flexibility, and speed in which its stewards are enabled to execute its mission. Their return on investment mindset coupled with a relentless dedication to service, delivers an experience second to none-THE CLUB COLORS EXPERIENCE.

Club Colors is looking for an ELC team to work with the existing website to improve functionality, evaluate and recommend ways to create a customer facing APP which is user friendly. They wish to uberize the interaction with the customer. Much more to come regarding this project. Technology based.

Topic

Web Design/Redesign | Data Base Structure | Customer Experience Maximization

Meeting Time

Monday and Wednesday
9:30 a.m.- 10:45 a.m.

Faculty Coach

Matt Pickard

Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS) is Chicago’s leading recycling and waste diversion services provider. They feel they deliver the highest levels of service to their business and residential customers.

LRS would like an ELC team to help them prove it. The ELC will study best practices in measuring customer satisfaction, then develop a customized plan, policies, procedures and platforms to measure LRS’ actual client satisfaction on an ongoing basis.

Topic

Marketing | Communications | Data Analytics & Collection | Customer Service

Meeting Time

Tuesday and Thursday
2:00 p.m.- 3:15 p.m.

Faculty Coach

Russell Page

The YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago is the oldest women-focused social service organization in Chicago. It was formed by 13 women who met on December 12, 1876 to address their concerns for the growing number of single women who were coming to Chicago for work during the boom years after the great Chicago fire. From its earliest days, the YWCA focused on the total needs of women, particularly in the areas of employment, health and housing. YWCA women became leaders in social legislation that related to the needs of women and girls, such as child labor laws.

The YWCA would like an ELC team to develop an awareness campaign that encompasses all they have to offer the community. This campaign includes the recommendations to evaluate the brand recognition and will include research an element of data analysis. The project will take shape as the team completes the discovery meeting.

Topic

Marketing / Awareness /Brand Recognition Campaigns

Meeting Time

Tuesday and Thursday
2:00 p.m.- 3:15 p.m.

Faculty Coach

Neil Doughty

Scientific Entertainment That Promotes Health Literacy

Lots of regular people are not too smart about their bodies and health. In fact, 90% of the US population lacks basic health literacy. This increases their health risks, degrades medical outcomes, and inflates costs for individuals and across the population. It also causes immeasurable anxiety and suffering related to illness, while undermining personal goals of wellness and self-care.

Humaginarium solves this problem with a new kind of digital health education. We make science more interesting, easier to understand, more relevant and useful. Our video games promote health literacy through very engaging entertainment. This project is a follow up from the initial project which was completed during the Spring 2019 semester. This team will build off of the legacy established by their predecessor!

PART II Humaginarium would like an ELC team to research a strategy and recommend ways to effectively commercialize and market high-end video game entertainment directly to consumers. Humaginarium understands that penetration of the video game industry is a formidable challenge and they’re making it harder by conceiving games that embody health science and high-fidelity simulations of human physiology. Why? To improve the lives of players with chronic illness. When you consider that video games are the most popular category of entertainment in the US, and that half of the US population has at least one debilitating chronic illness, you begin to sense a convergence of two massive cultural interests. Yet rarely do people talk about games and health in the same breath. The convergence could become a gigantic market opportunity. MORE TO COME. As the current team finalizes their recommendations, a new business case can be established outlining new and/or follow-up deliverables.

Topic

Marketing | Communications | Data Analytics

Meeting Time

Monday and Wednesday
2:00 p.m.- 3:15 p.m.

Faculty Coach

Jason Gorham

Past Projects

Spring 2019

The YMCA of Rock River Valley is one of the longest standing charitable organizations and has served the greater Rockford area for more than 150 years. The YMCA has evolved and now works for educational attainment, opportunities for youth to grow and thrive, and providing families and seniors with a place to build relationships and their own sense of well-being. The YMCA serves all and continues to grow and expand its reach into the parts of the community that are underserved through strong programs and values the YMCA is known for.

Project:  The YMCA of Rock River Valley has requested an ELC team to conduct a strategic communications project with elements of data analysis and message development. The project team would assist the YMCA in developing outcome measures and an updatable dashboard that would help them better demonstrate the impact of their programs on the community.

An example:  If we know that teaching 1,000 kids to swim reduces drowning deaths by one kid, we want to be able to enter the number of lessons offered and have a dashboard that demonstrates how many lives saved

Topic

Marketing | Communications | Data Analysis

Faculty Coach

Jacie Collum

The Northern Illinois Research Foundation (NIRF) is a not-for-profit organization (501(c)(3)) that seeks to contribute to and advance the educational, research, public service and economic development mission of Northern Illinois University. NIRF’s purpose includes promoting scientific research at NIU, administering and managing activities to foster out-licensing to third parties of technology invented at NIU, and cultivating the formation of new spin-out companies, so that such technology may be developed and commercialized for the benefit of NIU and the public.

Project:  NIRF would like an ELC team to develop a business plan for a new NIU spin-out company’s diagnostic and therapeutic technologies. In addition, a market analysis for future paths in the IP portfolio will be needed to move selected inventions with enough growth to sustain the business. If you're interested in entrepreneurship, this is a great opportunity to gain an understanding of how to launch a newly developed product .

Topic

Marketing | Entrepreneurship | Business Plan Development

 

Faculty Coach

Jason Gorham

Caterpillar is the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives. The company is also a founding corporate sponsor of the Building Ethical Leaders in an Ethics Framework (BELIEF) Program in the College of Business.

Project:  Caterpillar would like an ELC team to engage in a capacity planning project. In the Spring of 2019 the consultant team will build off the previous project completed during the Fall of 2018 semester. More details to come.

Topic

Capacity Planning

 

Faculty Coach

Neil Doughty

ClostraBio is dedicated to understanding and treating food allergies and other diseases of the immune system. Life-threatening allergic responses to food are an increasingly important public health problem. It is estimated that two children in every classroom now have a food allergy that requires strict dietary avoidance. Children with allergies, and their caretakers, often deal with reduced quality of life from the fear that an accidental exposure will trigger a life-threatening anaphylactic response. ClostraBio creates new medicines to treat and prevent these life-threatening allergic reactions. The company is also studying related diseases, in particular, inflammatory bowel diseases.

Project:  ClostraBio is exploring new therapeutic uses for its medication and believes inflammatory bowel diseases, which include diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, may be a good target. ClostraBio would like an ELC team to analyze the competitive landscape and target product profile to help best market medication associated with inflammatory bowel disease. This project will include an assessment of the current landscape of similar medications, market size, market research, and evaluation, price point assessment, and data analytics .

Topic

Business Analytics | Finance | Marketing | Market Research | Data Analytics

 

Faculty Coach

Neil Doughty

Intelligent Medical Objects (IMO), the industry leader and innovator in Clinical Interface Terminology since 1994, makes sense out of complicated clinical information. IMO bridges the gap between clinical language and complex coding systems and their core terminology products simplify patient documentation and facilitate the capture of clinical information. IMO is the most widely used clinical terminology, with over 500,000 physicians using IMO worldwide.

Over the past year, IMO’s Software Engineering department has implemented an initiative to emphasize a culture of DevOps, intermixing software developers who build applications with operations engineers responsible for building and maintaining the systems that host these applications. An issue facing IMO is that they haven’t been able to take the time to identify or implement a measurable approach to determine if the changes made are leading to positive improvements for Software Engineering in particular, IMO in general.

Project:  IMO would like a team of consultants to develop some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to the change as outlined above, make recommendations on what data to use to model and report on these KPIs. Provided the KPIs are researched and discussed with IMO’s team, IMO will provide actual business data to the NIU team so that they can implement the proposed KPI given source data. IMO has utilized a well-known reference text in the industry regarding information capture but has yet to finalize functionality and measurability. This is currently a real issue that IMO is facing and has the potential to blend the worlds of computer science, engineering, business, math and statistics, and marketing.

Topic

Business | Information Systems | Marketing | Data Analytics

 

Faculty Coach

Neil Doughty

FSS is the only Domestic Violence agency in the county providing comprehensive services to victims and their families. Victims are provided with information about the Order of Protection process, as well as other supportive services that are available to them.

An updated VAD system is very much needed by FSS to keep proper track of all clients and their statuses throughout Family Shelter’s process. This is a redesign of the website which was developed by an ELC team in 2004.

Topic

Business & Data Analytics | Information Systems | Marketing

 

Faculty Coach

Jock Sommese

Lots of regular people are not too smart about their bodies and health. In fact, 90% of the US population lacks basic health literacy. This increases their health risks, degrades medical outcomes, and inflates costs for individuals and across the population. It also causes immeasurable anxiety and suffering related to illness, while undermining personal goals of wellness and self-care.

Humaginarium solves this problem with a new kind of digital health education. We make science more interesting, easier to understand, more relevant and useful. Our video games promote health literacy through very engaging entertainment.

Humaginarium would like an ELC team to research a strategy and recommend ways to effectively commercialize and market high-end video game entertainment directly to consumers. Humaginarium understands that penetration of the video game industry is a formidable challenge and they’re making it harder by conceiving games that embody health science and high-fidelity simulations of human physiology. Why? To improve the lives of players with chronic illness. When you consider that video games are the most popular category of entertainment in the US, and that half of the US population has at least one debilitating chronic illness, you begin to sense a convergence of two massive cultural interests. Yet rarely do people talk about games and health in the same breath. The convergence could become a gigantic market opportunity.

Topic

Marketing | Communications | Data Analytics

 

Faculty Coach

Jason Gorham

Contact Us

Experiential Learning Center
Barsema Hall 303
740 Garden Road
DeKalb, IL 60115
815-753-4006
elc@niu.edu

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