Husky Teams Sweep State Project Management Competition

Group photo of Team “HACME” at THE Project project management competition
Representing Michigan Tech in first place of THE Project—Team HACME—L to R: Mithil Masutage, Keith Wallace, Shivkumar Gaikwad, Anastasia Motta, Andrew Kleehammer, Benjamin Leinonen, Liam McDonough, Roger Woods (Photo courtesy THE Project)

Michigan Tech teams earned both first and second place in THE Project 2023, a semester-long project management competition sponsored by the Western Michigan Project Management Institute. Finals were held last month at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville, Michigan, where Huskies went up against competitors from Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Hillsdale College, and Western Michigan University.

This was the first in-person THE Project since 2019 following a 2022 hiatus. The competition experience is a tool to ignite student interest in project management as a career path.

About THE Project, Project Management Competition

THE Project engages college students in the practice of project management and provides a showcase to demonstrate leadership abilities on stage and in person with business and community leaders.

Teams are composed of three to six students, each with a faculty champion and project management professional (PMP) certified mentor. “The opportunity to work directly with a certified PMP that is actively managing projects is one of the unique aspects of the competition.

“This is not just me talking about how a project should work, but the reality of how projects actually work.”

Roger Woods, associate teaching professor of operations management, College of Business at Michigan Tech

A real-life complex problem scenario is presented and participants are tasked with providing a detailed solution in the form of a project plan using processes documented in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge.

This year’s challenge centered on developing a plan to prevent and protect digital infrastructure from ever-increasing ransomware attacks in the context of the fictional “Acme Corporation.” The winning teams included:

First Place THE Project–“HACME”

  • Shivkumar Gaikwad, master’s student in engineering management
  • Andrew Kleehammer, BS student in engineering management
  • Benjamin Leinonen, BS student in management
  • Mithil Masutage, master’s student in engineering management
  • Liam McDonough, BS student in engineering management
  • Asia Motta, master’s student in engineering management
  • Keith Wallace, PMP certified mentor
  • Roger Woods, team champion

Second Place THE Project–“WileyWare”

Group photo of Team “WileyWare” at THE Project project management competition
Earning second in THE Project—Team WileyWare—L to R: Jamal Steward, Mitch Watters, Anderson Piercey, William Kordenbrock Jr., Benjamin Knoth, Caleb Glenn, Roger Woods
  • Caleb Glenn, BS student in management
  • William Kordenbrock Jr., BS student in engineering management
  • Benjamin Knoth, BS student in management
  • Anderson Piercey, BS student in management
  • Jamal Steward, PMP certified mentor
  • Mitch Watters, BS student in engineering management
  • Stuart Werner, BS student in engineering management
  • Roger Woods, team champion

Both teams were awarded cash prizes from a panel of PMP-certified executive judges, who look for applicable use of project management techniques, quality of solutions, and presentation ability. Throughout the semester, teams received interdisciplinary guidance from faculty in the Department of Applied Computing: Tim Van Wagner, assistant teaching professor of applied computing, and Victoria Walters, instructor of applied computing.

A point of pride for the Black and Gold: Michigan Tech is the only school to place in the top three every year of the competition, an achievement Woods drove home to students from the start. “I doubt that they needed that extra motivation, but it does make it clear — when representing the University, we will not accept mediocre effort and work,” he said.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.