Graduate Business Students Collaborate with Microsoft on Project

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A graduate class at Columbus State University’s Turner College of Business recently wrapped up a real-world, hands-on project that had MBA students

[caption id="attachment_3132" align="alignright" width="300"]The winning team members are (left to right) April Blem, Kenny Simmers, Ryan Lewis and Michael Anselm The winning team members are (left to right) April Blem, Kenny Simmers, Ryan Lewis and Michael Anselm[/caption]

testing mobile applications for Microsoft.

“They loved it,” said Jennifer Pitts, an associate professor of management information systems for CSU. “This is the goal of most business schools — to get students out working with companies and to get some hands on, real world projects. They were prepared and very engaged. This was a challenging project and each team embraced it.”

Four of the graduate students — Kenny Summers, Michael Anselm, April Blem and Ryan Lewis — comprised the winning team in a case study competition evaluated by a Microsoft executive, Anna Kinney, who flew in from Seattle for the project’s closing ceremony at CSU’s Center for Commerce and Technology.

CSU was chosen to take part in the Microsoft pilot program because of a relationship between Pitts and Kinney, who has family in the Columbus area. Kinney, Microsoft’s global director of marketing for Bing, said she would evaluate the pilot and, if judged successful, the program will move forward.

“We’ve collaborated on some things before,” Kinney said of Pitts. “So when this came up, I asked her if she would be willing to pilot this with me. I’ve seen Columbus State grow up over the last 20 years, and it’s been amazing to see the progress and commitment from the state and the local community and investing in the local area in education.”

[caption id="attachment_3133" align="alignright" width="300"]Second place team (left to right) Nate Rozea, Aron Hauquitz, Asmita Piya, Eniola Oladele Second place team (left to right) Nate Rozea, Aron Hauquitz, Asmita Piya, Eniola Oladele[/caption]

As part of the competition, Kinney met with students earlier this summer to discuss Microsoft’s strategies involving mobile computing, cloud computing, social marketing and more. Microsoft then presented students in Pitts’ class with more than 30 new devices. Each student was provided with a Windows smartphone, and each of four teams received an iPad, an Asus tablet and an iPhone 5 to test and compare features of mobile applications. Each team presented a 10-minute final report before a three-judge panel on Wednesday.

“I’ve seen a lot of passion (in CSU students),” Kinney said. “I’ve seen a lot of commitment to try quality work and commitment to really push their thinking. It’s been amazingly refreshing to see.”

Overall, Pitts said, the summer project had her MBA students examining the merits of products to gain a deeper understanding of how personal technology decisions are made. Other project objectives were to enable students to:

  • Evaluate how consumer behavior transcends tangible and intangible criteria.

  • Collaborate effectively in a professional group setting.

  • Demonstrate how to develop a common framework for assessing multiple technologies and use cases.

  • Assess how technical and cultural factors affect the success of a consumer app.

  • Present findings in a professional and clear manner.

Beyond the incentive of prizes Microsoft offered the top two teams, work on the project represented 25 percent of each student’s grade.

Finishing second in the case study competition was the team of MBA students Nathan Rozea, Aron Hauquitz, Eniola Oladele and Asmita Piya.|

For more on internationally accredited degree programs offered by CSU’s Turner College of Business, visit

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