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Students sweep national case study competition

April 16, 2010

KALAMAZOO--A group of four Western Michigan University students has swept a prestigious national case study competition, winning the team division and taking top honors for best individual undergraduate research paper.

The students competed in the International Telecommunications Education and Research Association National Case Study Competition. The final round of the competition and public presentations were held during ITERA's Eighth Annual Conference on Telecommunications & Information Technology April 10-11 in Nashville, Tenn.

This is the first time WMU has won the case study award and the third time in the past four years that one of its students has won the best undergraduate paper award. In the final round of the 2010 competition, WMU faced teams from Purdue University, Murray State University and James Madison University.

Members of WMU's winning case study team are seniors Chad Stec, captain, of Gobles, Mich., a computer information systems major; Kurt Gillispie of Southfield, Mich., a telecommunication and information management major; and Greg Guyette of Farmington Hills, Mich., a telecommunication and information management major. Bringing home the award for best undergraduate research paper was Shane Mittan of Clare, Mich., another senior majoring in telecommunication and information management.

The national case study competition, titled "Connected Tennessee: Telecommunications Economic Development Case Study," challenged teams to create a strategic technology plan for bringing broadband and information technology service to a portion of rural Tennessee. The plan had to include both technology solutions as well as a proposed budget and implementation plan.

"I am so proud of our team," says Dr. Michael Tarn, the project team's advisor and chairman of the WMU Department of Business Information Systems. "Since the first day they began their project in September 2009, all team members had clearly understood that they were working on a live, real-world project, while competing with graduate and undergraduate student teams from other universities. Not only does their final product represent seven months of hard work and effort, but it also shows evidence of the quality of Western's program and students."

Papers presented at the conference were competitively selected and featured analysis of business strategies and issues facing such media and telecommunication companies as Apple, Intelsat and AT&T. Dr. Richard Gershon, professor of communication and co-director of the telecommunication and information management program, had high praise for Mittan's case study analysis of Apple Corp.

"Mittan's paper was an excellent piece of research that looked at the role of strategy and innovation in making Apple a leading-edge media company," Gershon says. "His paper and conference presentation was superb in terms of its organization and delivery."

WMU's telecommunication and information management major is designed to train students in a variety of telecommunication and data communication sub-disciplines. Its mission is to give students a well-balanced education in a variety of business- and technical-management issues.

The program is offered through the Department of Business Information Systems in the Haworth College of Business and the School of Communication in the College of Arts and Sciences. It is co-directed by Dr. Pairin Katerattanakul, associate professor of business information systems.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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