U.S. business, engineering students took part in inaugural water management case competition
OLATHE, Kan. — A global leader in high-efficiency water technology, Grundfos hosted a first-ever U.S. competition to give business and engineering students the opportunity to design ground-breaking solutions for managing the world’s scarce water resources. The Grundfos Challenge took place Nov. 15 and 16 at the company’s facility in Olathe, Kan., while other regional events occurred simultaneously at Grundfos facilities in Denmark and China.
Two business teams and two engineering teams were chosen to represent the U.S. in a global competition in Denmark, Grundfos’ home country, in March 2013 for a weeklong final competition against their Chinese and Danish counterparts. The winning engineering students were Cole Bittel, John DiBaggio and Dave Minnick of the University of Kansas and Steven Stepanovic, Adam Byrnes and Daniel Nabelek of the University of Missouri. The winners from the business tract were Eric Fredrickson, Egemen Gozoglu and Katharina Gishewski of Purdue University and Andrew Holt, Sarah White and Anna Juenemann of Rockhurst University.
“It was absolutely inspiring to see the innovations that the students developed,” said Dennis Wierzbicki, president of Grundfos USA. “They came here and truly challenged us and the status quo.”
The students competed against teams from other universities to turn theoretical knowledge into a practical business strategy that was supported by sound engineering schematics. A test of talent, ingenuity and teamwork, the Challenge provided participants with an important platform for innovation.
Each team developed a plan to reduce overall water consumption, decrease the energy needed to transport and purify water, increase the reliability of water networks, and shrink the cost of handling and using water.
The teams were judged on strategic focus and technical or business acumen by panels of internal and external experts. Awards were presented by Wierzbicki and Jes Munk Hansen, president of Grundfos North America.
Participating schools include California State University – Fresno, Purdue University, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Rockhurst University and the University of Missouri. Originally a competition for Danish educational institutions, the Grundfos Challenge took the concept global this year with regional competitions in the U.S. and China as well.
The Challenge began in Bjerringbro, Denmark in 2006 to highlight the importance of cooperation between the business community and educational institutions. After taking part in the competition and receiving an introduction to Grundfos’ culture, many past participants have gone on to continue their innovative work as permanent employees.