MISSOULA – On the final day of the fall semester, University of Montana business students received real-world experience by using lessons learned in the classroom to benefit a local nonprofit group.
Six teams from the UM College of Business Systems Analysis and Design course, competed to have their website selected by City Club Missoula.
The project and contest for students is held every semester as part of the business curriculum in partnership with a local nonprofit organization that is looking to revamp their online presence.
During the semesterlong project, each team gathers information from the nonprofit, conducts research on website offerings that will be best suited for that organization, designs a website and then pitches that website as part of the competition.
“Experiential learning helps students learn through doing,” said UM management information systems Professor Clayton Looney. “Through hands-on experience working with a local nonprofit, students are better able to apply classroom concepts to solve real-world problems.”
This semester’s nonprofit was City Club Missoula, which brings together people to inform and inspire citizens on issues vital to the Missoula-area community through public forums that encourage the discussion of new ideas and the free exchange of thought. The project highlights the strong, mutually beneficial relationships that exist between the business school and the community.
“Our staff administrator for City Club Missoula recently received his MBA from the College of Business and notified the CCM board of directors about the opportunity to work with Professor Clay Looney’s class,” said Peggy Kuhr, board chair of City Club Missoula. “At the time, the board was discussing the need for a new website and voted to have our administrator, Eric Legvold, reach out to Professor Looney. We want to partner with students in the community, especially at the University of Montana, and this gave us the perfect opportunity to engage students who could offer City Club Missoula some outstanding expertise.”
The design competition is now in its second year, and Looney hopes this type of experience continues.
“By playing an active role in a project with real consequences for our community, students become more engaged in the knowledge and skill acquisition process, leading to superior learning outcomes,” he said.
Many members of City Club Missoula’s board of trustees were present for the presentations and judged each of the teams, providing feedback on every design.
“I truly appreciated the depth of scope of not only each of the presentations but the collective layout of the program,” City Club Missoula Board Member Dave Peppenger said. “This is a very powerful program for the businesses within Missoula that are uncertain of a starting point for launch. It is also extremely powerful for the students to work in a team to solve challenges and provide real-life solutions for actual clients.”
This semester’s winning team, PIVOT Solutions, was composed of five UM management information systems students – Antonio Hendricks, Tyler McClure, Nathan Mora, Colton Tollefson and Samantha Wolf.