Experiential Learning Center Projects

You get an exclusive opportunity to serve as a consultant and work directly with the leaders of organizations on real-world business issues. In addition, you will build valuable project managementcommunication, 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. 

Serving as a consultant is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience and increase your marketability as you search for a job. Leaders of organizations are looking for employees with experience in problem-solving, communication skills, working in a team setting, and individual accountability. In addition, you will learn new skills, strengthen areas of improvement, and work with a team of diverse students from various majors.

Remember, Huskies get hired; Huskies who have project experience really get hired!!

Project topics include marketing strategies, financial strategies, business plan development, data analytics, and new product launch, to name a few. We are working with large companies, small companies, non-profit, domestic, and companies that conduct business internationally.  

  • Join an ELC team and get a vast experience!
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  • Be sure to include your top three topics of interest.
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Fall 2021 Projects

The Literacy Council

Coach: Jacie Collum

Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday 2-3:15 p.m. (online)

Topic: Marketing Strategies/Research | Data Analytics

Company Background

The Literacy Council, founded in 1985, is a not-for-profit organization that empowers people to achieve.  The Literacy Council exists to provide literacy instruction to individuals and families to strengthen communities.  

  • 15% of their service area population over 16 has a primary language other than English.
  • There are just under 35,000 adults without a high school diploma or equivalent
  • The greatest single indicator of a child's future success is the literacy level of his or her parents.
  • Adult Education builds the much-needed skills of the workforce in the US.


The leadership of The Literacy Council would like a team of consultants to evaluate their current marketing and communication strategy.  Additionally, they would like recommendations on improving their brand awareness, recognition, and visibility of programs and services offered.

P + P Artec, Inc.

Coach: Michele Kazcka

Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-4:45 p.m.

Topic: Marketing strategies/Data/Competitive landscape

Company Background

P + P Artec began fabricating and installing Custom Ornamental Stainless Steel Railings in the United States for customers globally over 20 years ago. P+P Artec inherited Poppe + Potthoff’s dedication to manufacturing superior stainless steel products through technical competence, engineered manufacturing, and uncompromising demands on quality. We require the highest standards of precision and perfection from ourselves.  Regardless of the scope of your project, our experienced, professional staff is dedicated to delivering the final product. We are prepared to tailor our stainless steel railing designs to meet the needs of your application. Our commitment to quality is embedded in the traditional roots of our company. From our inception in Werther, Germany, continuing in over 2000 installations globally, your satisfaction is a reflection of our success.


The leadership of P + P Artec Rail Inc. would like a team of consultants to evaluate the proper marking strategies for entering the residential aspect of the industry.  The leaders believe it is time to expand their market reach and are interested in research and evidence-based solutions.  This will include evaluating the competitive landscape, the most logical relationships to develop, and the proper launch process. 

LKQ Heavy Truck

Coach: Jennifer Redisi

Meeting Time: Monday/Wednesday 2-3:15 p.m.

Topic: Marketing/Data/Research

Company Background

Founded in 1998, LKQ Heavy Truck began with a vision of becoming the greatest automotive recycling business. Over decades of growth and service, leading experts in the industry achieved this vision by creating a respected, national network with a diversified portfolio of vehicles and parts. Further, with 16 different locations across the U.S. and one of the largest late model salvage yards in the nation, we have the right parts needed.  Our team buys heavy-duty vehicles, dismantles them for component pieces, and recycles or resells truck parts in a conscious, professional manner. Undeniably, LKQ has the parts for medium and heavy duty applications, with heavy truck parts from your favorite brands such as Eaton Fuller, Meritor-Rockwell, Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit, Peterbilt, Freightliner, and International. Overall, getting you back to the road is our number one priority. In the same fashion, our extensive inventory, great warranty, fair prices, and some of the most experienced employees we guarantee that customers will always find the part they’re looking for, no exceptions.


LKQ Heavy Truck would like an ELC team of consultants to strengthen their market reach and develop a marketing strategy to position LKQ Heavy Truck as the primary option in the industry. 

Rockford Rescue Mission

Coach: Jason Gorham

Meeting Time: Monday/Wednesday 2-3:15 p.m.

Topic: Marketing Strategies/Communication

Company Background

The Rockford Rescue Mission began serving the community in 1964, and while it has changed significantly over the past 57 years, its mission never changes;  The Rockford Rescue Mission shares hope and help in Jesus's name to move people from homelessness and despair toward personal and spiritual wholeness. Offering Crisis Centers, often long-term Life Recovery Programs, a Works! Center to help individuals enter or re-enter college or the workplace, and Nettie's Mercantile & Cafe for a unique shopping experience, homemade decor, and delicious food.  The Rockford Rescue Mission also serves about 400 meals a day to people in need.   

Project Scope

The Rockford Rescue Mission leadership would like a team of consultants to evaluate their current marketing and communication strategy specific to the Works! Center. The leadership of RRM wishes to expand its market reach and find ways to increase brand recognition in the Rockford Region.
K.W.O.E. Foundation

Coach: Federico Bassetti

Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday 2-3:15 p.m.  

Topic: Strategic Plan development/Marketing/Communications

Company Background

K-Know your genius

W-Work to be unstoppable

O-Own your actions

E-Explore the world

The K.W.O.E. Foundation utilizes music & motivational speaking to instill hope, teach life skills and generate opportunities to help today’s youth make productive life choices and succeed. Giving kids opportunities to learn the skills needed to make these positive choices, and to see themselves as worthy of living life with inner confidence and outer kindness, is K.W.O.E.’s life’s work. Through FLOW Entertainment, K.W.O.E. leads a team that produces hundreds of celebratory events each year, from weddings and corporate events to birthday parties and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs across metropolitan Chicago and other U.S. cities. Often called “The King of the Mitzvahs,” K.W.O.E. is in high demand as the MC for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, and the FLOW Crew of DJs and dancers are beloved for hosting popular and memorable parties. Music is the space that allows Kareem "K.W.O.E". Wells to unleash his creativity without boundaries.

Project Topic

KWOE would like a team of consultants to help craft their marketing and strategic plan to maximize their recognition and expand their reach.  KWOE is a non-profit. 

Lakeshore Recycling Systems

Coach: Neil Doughty

Meeting Time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:45 a.m.  

Topic: Internal Marketing/Leadership Strategies

Company Background

Headquartered in Morton Grove, IL., LRS is Chicago’s leading recycling and waste diversion provider.  LRS was born in 2012 by way of a merger between two of Chicago’s strongest waste recycling companies:  Lakeshore Waste Services and Recycling Systems, Inc.  LRS serves 658 schools in the Chicago Public School system and actively participants in the City of Chicago’s Blue Cart Residential Recycling Program.


LRS would like a team of consultants to develop an industry-leading Leadership Management Training.  This training would advance the leadership skills of current employees and interns and would serve to develop individual career paths while contributing to the leadership strength structure of LRS.

Past Projects (Spring 2021)


OpenLoop is a web-platform designed to help match healthcare providers with hospitals and other facilities that require extra staffing assistance. OpenLoop makes the search easy by collecting all the current job needs, centralizing the provider database, and notifying you based on your location and specialty when opportunities arise.  OpenLoop’s mission is to improve community health through accelerated delivery of patient service. Their matching system ensures that more time is spent practicing medicine and saving lives. 

The leadership of OpenLoop would like an ELC team of consultants to help them expand their marketing strategies and market reach. The leaders of OpenLoop are looking for ways to optimize the marketing channels, find new avenues to access, and ways to enter new markets.


Marketing Strategies | Research | Data Analytics

Meeting Time

2-3:15 p.m.


Caterpillar (CAT) 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 BELIEF Program in the College of Business.

Project Topics: Vertical Integration (VI) for Manufacturing Companies with High Capital Intensity

Companies use tools and processes for key business decisions such as Make/Buy decisions, New Product Introduction (NPI) program prioritization, Major investments, etc.CAT would like an ELC team to establish a nucleus of such process/tool (or at least a set of "lenses") to guide the decision whether or not to pursue vertical integration (VI).

The CAT leadership is interested in a literature search of successful and unsuccessful examples of best practices of VI manufacturing which will include a comprehensive literature search of successful as well as unsuccessful examples and best practices of VI manufacturing companies. The data search will help form identify quantifiable business metrics /KPIs/other factors that are most relevant. Areas of focus are cost reduction opportunities, capital intensity, technological complexity relative to known CAT competencies, competitive advantage potential, etc. This process will include a SWOT, decision framework, data analysis, and a financial model template. This team will need to consider the market demand uncertainty in their exploration. 


Purchasing | Research | Sales | Vertical Integration | Model Development

Meeting Time

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


SuperBetter is on a mission to unlock heroic potential around the world and are the leaders in applying game science to improve real lives and solve real problems.  SuperBetter consists of a small but mighty team dedicated to empowering individuals and communities to live epic lives that are full of joy and challenge and powered by strong social relationships, positive emotions and purpose.  SuperBetter strives to positively impact the co-occurring epidemics of mental illness, addiction, and suicide.  The leaders of SuperBetter forge bold alliances with mission-aligned organizations to improve resilience, recovery and mental health in the industries and populations they serve.

Superbetter would like an ELC team of consultants to strengthen their market reach, develop a marketing strategy to position SuperBetter as the primary option to help individuals with mental health challenges.  SuperBetter is interested in finding investors and an evaluation of the best approach to enter the best market.


Marketing | Data/Research

Meeting Time

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


Rust-Oleum is known for its trusted quality and powerful solutions since 1921. Founded on the principle of providing innovative products that protect surfaces from the elements, Rust-Oleum is a leading manufacturer of innovative coatings that empower DIYers and professionals alike. Its wide range of products include paints, primers, automotive and concrete coatings, and wood care products for both consumer and industrial markets. Rust-Oleum joined the RPM family in 1994 and is headquartered in Vernon Hills, IL, with 14 distribution facilities across North America.

Rust-Oleum would like an ELC team of consultants to develop an online marketing strategy that will strongly position their Varathane brand of interior wood stain and wood care products. This team will complete a thorough SWOT analysis of Varathane's online presence and shopper journey and compare to key competitors. This team will present both their findings and strategic recommendations on how to enhance Varathane's online presence to be more market competitive and grow market share of the wood care category


Marketing | Data Analytics

Meeting Time

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


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 of consultants to help them navigate their internal communications challenges.  With several technological ways for them to communicate, the leaders at McDonald’s wish to streamline the communications system and need recommendations on the most effective way to maintain organizational events, meetings, and other forms of communication across their vast organization.  More will unfold as the team evaluates the organizational landscape.


Communication Systems | Uniformity in communication approach | Information Systems

Meeting Time

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

Rockford Park District

The Rockford Park District (RPD) has been a part of the Rockford and surrounding communities since 1909 and is the third-largest park and recreation system in Illinois.  The RPD began for two main reasons, the need for quality family time to keep the family unit together and keep kids (particularly) young boys out of trouble. Levin Faust, the RPD founder, dreamed of living in a community where residents could enjoy places of beauty. Joseph Lee, the father of the playground movement, believed that play is not a luxury but a necessity and is recreation and the renewal of life for adults while serving to grow and gain life for children.

There are several topics the leadership of RPD would like an ELC consultant team to address;  Areas such as pricing of services and programs, KPI development to help make strategic business-related decisions, human resources, employee engagement, recruitment, and talent management may include analyzing staff ratio to benchmark against other districts. Facilities assessment regarding business plan development.  An overall evaluation of data to help determine the best course of action for many areas pertinent to operating a large park district system.


Marketing | Communications

Meeting Time

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

Crest Foods

Crest Foods is a third-generation family-owned company founded in 1946.  Beginning with Jay Meiners and continuing with his three sons and their children, Crest Foods remains committed to family owners and family values now and in the future. Crest Foods has spent the last 70 plus years refining its systems and processes in order to bring you the best quality products and services across all three of their divisions.  Their corporate programs and policies help take our business from average to exceptional. 

The leadership of Crest Foods would like an ELC consultant team to evaluate the current landscape of the industry-specific to their partners/vendors specific to ways to connect with their successors.  They would like a communication and marketing strategy to strengthen their relationships in a generational manner.  The leaders of Crest Foods would also like the ELC team to make recommendations specific to product evaluation and market entry.


Marketing | Communications | Data Analytics | Sales | Millennial connection industry-wide

Meeting Time

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

Echo Global Logistics

Echo Global Logistics is a leading provider of technology-enabled transportation and supply chain management services. Echo offers freight brokerage and Managed Transportation solutions 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 providers to 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, so that 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 would like a team of consultants to make recommendations on ways to engage, retain, and train the right hires/employees. 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 applications they 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.


HR strategies | Data Analytics | Database Development | Data Collection

Meeting Time

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

Contact Us

Experiential Learning Center
Barsema Hall 303
740 Garden Road
DeKalb, IL 60115

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