As UIC Business students knuckle down in the Fall ’15 homestretch, a handful of students are working overtime on coursework that is more than just coursework. Three teams of 2-3 students each have partnered with area organizations to help them solve a range of business problems, and their December deadlines are looming.
These student-business partnerships are a core program of the UIC Business Center for Research in Information Management (CRIM). With the help of faculty from the Department of Information and Decision Sciences, student teams have partnered with three organizations: Complyse, Health Fitness and bestpracticestograduate.org. Organizations looking to partner with CRIM teams submit a simple form online, and at the beginning of the semester, student teams and partner organizations are paired off for an initial meeting, during which they identify problems, propose solutions (with a focus on data analytics), and build a project timeline.
David Grenier, who runs Complyse, has been working with CRIM project teams for years. “There have been a lot of projects over the years. A car-sharing app for I-Go, which has since been sold to Enterprise Rent-A-Car; a deal calculator for WAVSYS; a dynamic billing module for Complyse, and now some work with Truly Organic, for whom Complyse provides back office services.”
Grenier notes that, for the partner organization, CRIM project teams are more than just free consulting or free labor; there are a number of things the organization must do on their end to accommodate the student teams. “But in the end,” says Grenier, “you get a team that communicates with you regularly, a team that is making you think harder and try harder, coming up with better solutions than you’d come up with on your own.”
At the end of each semesters, student teams present their business solutions at the CRIM Expo, attended by UIC Business students, faculty and staff, as well as by staff from participating organizations. This fall’s CRIM expo will take place at UIC Business in mid-December, and, in addition to the student work on Complyse, will feature debuts for some other big student projects.
“I’m currently working with a team of Professor Liotine’s,” says Kevin Barry of bestpracticestograduate.org. “Last spring, a CRIM team produced the android app for the Key Outcomes Tracker, one of the website’s tools for college success. This fall, another student team will debut the the iPhone app.” A past CRIM team built some of Barry’s college success materials into an ebook, which is currently available on the site as a free download. “Being a nonprofit, partnership with the CRIM teams has been an attractive option for me,” says Barry. “But I especially like the idea of students helping me produce solutions. The core mission of my work is to address college dropout rates and college success, so to see students not only engaged in their coursework, but engaged beyond that in helping me address college success - I can’t tell you how much better it makes me feel about the project.”
Students interested in joining future CRIM teams and organizations interested in partnering with student teams can visit the CRIM page for more information.