Kylie Tonie, a CSUF undergrad student part of the 2021 SBI Competitions.

Kylie Tonie, an undergraduate CSUF business student part of the 2021 SBI Competitions.

Cal State Fullerton business undergraduates and MBA students again took top spots at the National Small Business Institute Consulting Project of the Year Competition in 2021. The wins, announced on Feb. 26, were again presented virtually, demonstrating student versatility in providing real-world consulting for Southern California businesses.

The MBA students were awarded first place for the 14th time in the past 30 years. Their project was on behalf of Irvine-based Rate Highway, which offers automated rate position technology for the auto rental industry. Jack Mixner, a retired management lecturer, provided guidance for the graduate students.

The undergraduate team placed second with their project on behalf of Acumen Group, a Signal Hill-based distribution consulting agency. Adjunct Management Professor Travis Lindsay, manager of the Center for Entrepreneurship and CSUF Startup Incubator, provided mentoring and direction for this project.

“These two student projects utilized a learning process called experiential learning, which is a fancy term for learning by doing,” says John Bradley Jackson, director of the CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship. “For example, we have all learned to walk and talk, not by being shown or told, but by practicing and refining our technique. The same learning process applies to student consulting. The students were challenged to engage with a real business, analyze the situation, make recommendations, and implement a solution all with in a 15-week semester. The students’ learning is extraordinary while our business clients get an incredible value.”

The CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship supports undergraduate- and graduate-level academic programs in entrepreneurship, as well as practical guidance for Orange County startups, whether founded by Titans or others in the community. They also offer consulting to area businesses with the expertise of CSUF students and faculty.

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