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APEX Program Projects Mark Final Semester for Penn State Smeal MBA Students

As part of their final semester of coursework in the Penn State Smeal College of Business, MBA students are applying all their recently acquired knowledge to real-world business projects through the Applied Professional Experience Program (APEX).
March 18, 2014

As part of their final semester of coursework in the Penn State Smeal College of Business, MBA students are applying all their recently acquired knowledge to real-world business projects through the Applied Professional Experience Program (APEX).

“This is really where students take the things they’ve learned in the classroom and apply them in real-world business situations that require effective work with internal teams and external stakeholders,” said Doug Thomas, faculty director for the Penn State Smeal MBA Program.

“The practice of solving problems in a real-world environment is a huge advantage to our students, especially in these last few months before they go out and take on professional roles with their MBA degrees.”

Through APEX, student teams and their clients collaborate over 14 weeks to tackle business challenges provided by client firms. Students sharpen their professional abilities through experiential learning, and clients benefit from the fresh perspective and analytical skill of a student team with a wide range of talents.

“The practice of solving problems in a real-world environment is a huge advantage to our students, especially in these last few months before they go out and take on professional roles with their MBA degrees,” said David Lenze, director of the APEX Program. “At the same time, the projects deliver real value to the project sponsors.”

Students are working with a total of 16 clients this semester, from small, family-owned businesses to multinational corporations in a wide variety of industries. Included here are summaries of just a few of the projects students are working on this semester:

Siemens Industry, Inc.: Siemens Industry is the world’s leading supplier of innovative and environmentally friendly products, solutions and services for industrial customers. Students on this project will assess new market opportunities for energy and environmental management services and suggest go-to-market strategies to capture those opportunities.

CASSA: CASSA is working to enable micro-mortgage lending for sustainable housing in Guatemala. Students working on this project will develop a comprehensive business case to profitably provide mortgage financing for construction of healthy and affordable housing for lower income residents of Guatemala.

Wright Beverage Distributing: Wright Beverage is a leading beverage distribution company that is led by Claude H. Wright who earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Smeal. Students on this project will benchmark various aspects of Wright’s inventory management and material handling operations relative to industry best practices.  They will then develop a set of recommendations tailored to Wright’s specific needs.

NutrAfrica: NutrAfrica’s vision is to bring modern food production capabilities in Ethiopia in order to create a more resilient food supply for East Africa while creating economic opportunity for residents of the region.   Students on this project will develop a comprehensive strategy for the export of injera (a spongy flatbread that is a staple Ethiopian food) to various international markets.

EC Power: EC Power, founded by Penn State Mechanical Engineering Professor Chao-Yang Wang, is a recent start-up focused on energy storage and design software. Students on this project are tasked with developing a marketing and sales strategies that will increase EC Power’s revenues by a factor of 10 over two years.

About the Penn State Smeal MBA Program
The internationally ranked residential Penn State Smeal MBA Program positions students from around the world for their future careers. The two-year program, based on the University Park campus, begins with a focus on business fundamentals. Through summer internships with top companies and concentration opportunities in areas such as finance, marketing, and supply chain management, students then personalize their Smeal MBA experiences to align with their career aspirations. Learn more at www.smeal.psu.edu/mba.

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