IDEO Design Thinking Workshop

It was incredible how much knowledge we gained about breakthrough innovation!

Our MBA Sustainability Cohort participated and competed a training session on Design Thinking from IDEO. For those of you who don’t know, Design Thinking is a structured and proven approach to speeding up breakthrough innovations.

Our instructors helped our teams navigate the different stages of Design Thinking along the 4-hour simulation. Each group came up with dozens of ideas during our “Ideation” phase that focused on helping a town in California find new uses for stuff the residents no longer needed. Furthermore, we created storyboards to help visually represent the actions we developed to promote sustainable lifestyles in this town.

By following the key principles of Design Thinking, particularly being observant and testing out hypothesis in a quick, iterative fashion, we developed extremely imaginative, but feasible ideas swiftly. Stay turned to see how we apply these tools during our consulting projects.

Duquesne MBAs Intend to Power Pittsburgh like Doc Powered the DeLorean: W2E!

In “Back to the Future II” (1989), Doc raids Marty’s garbage and turns it into fuel for his DeLorean.  No longer science fiction, converting waste to energy (W2E) is the absolute cutting edge of renewable fuel in the United States, and it could be coming to Pittsburgh soon.

For our first consulting project, we are collaborating with quasar energy group to explore feasibility and public-private partnerships for turning bio-waste into energy.  On a rainy day in late October, our MBA Sustainability class, accompanied by several professors and graduate students from Duquesne’s environmental science program, took a trip to Wooster, Ohio.  Why Wooster, you ask? Wooster is home to quasar’s partner, Ohio State’s agricultural institute, and their flagship anaerobic digester facilities that turn bio-waste into energy.

Anaerobic digestion technology provides clean, renewable energy for our homes and cars. The process takes organic waste and breaks it down in the absence of oxygen to harvest the energy insides.  When forty percent of food produced in America ends up in a landfill, this technology aims to provide an alternative.[1] The opportunity is huge:  In just the 2nd quarter of 2015, Allegheny County sent almost 407,000 tons of waste to the landfill![2]

We are ecstatic to be tackling such a massive problem. As one student named Mark said, “Coming from the energy field, I am really looking forward to working with anaerobic digestion technology to help find renewable solutions to our country’s energy issues.”

“Doc needs fuel” clip:

[1] NRDC Issue Paper – Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40% of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.
[2] “Municipal Waste Disposal Information.” Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Waste Management. 11 Aug, 2015. Web. 30 Oct, 2015.

The Corporate Cup

On Saturday July 18, 2015, a group of students were sponsored by their client to participate in the first annual Huntington Bank Corporate Cup to help raise money for Pelotonia Cancer Research. The group was able to rock some Duke pride with team t-shirts, represent Duquesne, and be sponsored by Tom Nist of Huntington Bank to go toe-to-toe with 9 other corporations to fight for the number one spot. The team was able to work and play along side various ranking managers and employees of these other corporations and Huntington Banks itself. They participated in events such as 5 vs 5 basketball, 6 vs 6 volleyball, Tug-of-War, Cornhole, and even an obstacle course. It was an excellent opportunity for the students to immerse themselves in the community and rub elbows with their client and other young professionals, while working hands-on in their practicum course.  And they even got to have a little fun while doing so!

Duquesne TeamPictured from left to right: Brandon Martin, Sarah Jilbert, Meng Dong, Derek Craig, Katie Greer, and Dave Sexauer

#FlashBackFriday Sustainable Ballers!

IMG_20150203_195853 Flash Back Friday! Back to the spring semester when a group of students rallied together to find a way to relieve the stresses of life. The solution? Intramural Coed Basketball! With the obvious choice for the team name being “The Sustainable Ballers”, the crew assembled. The roster was assembled and the players took the court. Under the leadership of stellar Collegiate athletes like Brandon Martin, David Sexauer, Arielle Love, and Elise Farris, the Ballers went on to only lose 2 games total (one of those being in the championship game), finishing with a record of 6-2, second best in the league. It proved to be a long, but fun and entertaining for everyone. Plus a little exercise never hurt anyone! Pictured left to right: Dan Kriger, Derek Craig, Kamryn Thorpe, Elise Farris, Zach Snyder, Brandon Martin, and David Sexauer

Summer Clients

We are pleased to announce clients and challenges for the MBA Sustainability capstone practicum this summer.   In this 8-week consulting engagement, students conduct primary research and work on-site with client communities, examining emerging and systemic challenges.  Deliverable is a leading change proposal that quantifies financial, social and environmental opportunities and risks. Following is a list of the clients the students will be working with and the challenges they face.

City of Pittsburgh – Analyze costs and environmental imprint for City fleet and develop a long-term strategy, policy and purchasing plan to become a leader in green transportation among the nation’s major cities

Huntington Bank – Develop an analytical framework to assess whether social commitment is translating to business development and propose an ongoing strategy for investment decisions, including market-specific activities for economically challenged areas 

Idea Foundry – Forecast B2B opportunities for new technologies accepted to the 2015 InterSector program for social enterprises and develop an action plan for corporate sponsorships

PNC Bank – Revamp PNC’s “Green Team” program to engage the company’s 50,000+ employees around the corporation’s environmental commitment

Pennsylvania Environmental Council – Develop a regional strategy for valuing and leveraging energy-saving “green” building attributes in real estate pricing and multi-listings

Student Conservation Association – Assess market demand for SCA’s sustainability fellowships and develop a strategy to increase corporate placements and diversify revenue sources while nurturing future leaders

Congratulations are in Order!

Duquesne’s Graduate Net Impact chapter is excited to announce that we have achieved GOLD chapter status this year! Although the statists aren’t out yet for 2015, less than 17% of the over 300 Net Impact chapters were awarded gold status in 2014. In order to achieve this prestigious status, a chapter must host at least ten events (or host eight events with one program) and have two events featuring meaningful collaboration throughout the year.

Some event highlights this year were “Tacobout Debt Day,” the collaboration social with Carnegie Mellon University, and the alumni job search panel. “Tacobout Debt Day” was part of the Net Impact two-cents day competition where our members handed out free tacos to students in order to raise awareness of the national debt. We finished top 20 in the competition and earned a free trip to Florida for one of our team members… who met Bill Clinton!

Another successful event was the social with Carnegie Mellon. Several members from their graduate chapter joined us for happy hour and appetizers to discuss our Net Impact chapters as well as network. It allowed us to form a great chapter connection right down Fifth Avenue! After this event we had another networking opportunity with alumni of the sMBA program. We invited a panel to come out and give us the cliff notes version of job searching. It was extremely helpful and our chapter learned a lot about Boolean searching!

Now that we have had such a wonderful year and accomplished our gold chapter goal we are ready to pass the reins to the sMBA 2016 class! – Sarah Jilbert


From left to right: Meredith Wingerson, Zach Snyder, Gina Johnson, Vani Hans, Phillip Venanzi, Sarah Jilbert, Caitlin Merritt, Katherine Smith, and Alyssa Haber.