Field Studies

Photo Collage

Real Solutions Make a Genuine Impact

In tandem with Business Solutions Center consulting projects, every student works with their career academy to apply the skills they've learned through hands-on academy projects.

These projects are led each spring semester by faculty within each career academy. The goal: gaining practical experiences that bring classroom learning to life. Business issues are analyzed, and solutions are identified for actual implementation. Real solutions, and real impact.

Past hands-on academy projects:

SPAM's European Launch

Targeting European Growth

Megan O'Rourke

Megan O'Rourke, MBA'09, visits grocery stores in Madrid, Spain, as part of her field study research project.

One of the world's most recognized producers of packaged food hired a Tippie MBA team to identify a target country for the introduction of the company's flagship product in Europe and to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for that country.

Scope of Work: Students conducted extensive research in consumer behavior, potential market size, political and socioeconomic factors, competition, category makeup, trademark protection, and legal issues in all European Union countries.

Outcome: The students ultimately narrowed the candidate countries to Spain, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, and dispatched a team to each for a week of field research. The company will evaluate the students' research and recommendations.

Henry Fund

Making the Investment Decisions through the Henry Fund

2008 Analysts-Group Picture

Each year a group of Tippie MBA students work as sector and industry analysts as members of the Henry Fund. The analysts are responsible for developing an investment review, researching new companies to purchase, and evaluating the ideas of other managers. In addition, fund managers perform the administrative tasks of portfolio management, such as marketing the fund to outside donors and producing an annual report. An independent advisory board of financial professionals oversees the Henry Fund. At the end of each semester, fund managers present their research and investment recommendations to this board for approval.

I enjoyed interacting with a group of like-minded peers through the Henry Fund. The fact that we were managing real money is a great selling point to employers and helped me clinch my full-time job in investments. I learned a lot from the speakers who spoke to our team (all of whom were invariably from the investment management or i-banking field) and the presentations that we delivered to the Henry Fund Advisory Board. Being a member of the Henry Fund team opened my eyes to what the real world of investments is all about.”—Sridip Mukhopadhyaya, Tippie MBA student

F&N Coca-Cola's American Strategy

Introducing the Next 'Propel' to Mid-America

Picture of cans.

Students worked directly with an entrepreneur who plans to distribute a sports drink called 100 Plus, which has been produced and sold for many years in Asia and the United States. Starting from the ground floor with only an idea, the team created a marketing plan with a number of options based on results of a taste test (concept testing). The entrepreneur is using the results of the RTCP to help secure bank financing and “angels.”

“Projects like this one for 100 Plus have critical milestones for the client and few assumptions that can be made at the beginning. Although lot of work is needed, it is for a real-world situation, and at the end there is immense gratification for having completed the task at hand, whether it is a marketing plan, a trade show process, or identifying a new business segment that should be pursued.”Frank Rydzewski, RTCP faculty director & former CEO, American Profol

Strategic Marketing

Creating a Go-to-Market Strategy

After completely reviewing a national company's business-to-business marketing process and conducting a competitive analysis, a team of Tippie MBA students created a new “go-to-market” strategic template. To do this, they formed an effective process to provide structure and focus to marketing and sales, and recommended changes in sales materials, customer prospecting, and the company's web presence. In the final session, the students presented their report to a board of 20 company leaders, managers, and employees.

“This was a fantastic project—I learned a great deal about how a company executes its marketing plan and evaluates whether or not company goals are being met.”—Michelle Schmitt, Tippie MBA student


Maximizing International Trade Show Returns

Photo of Rotter Dam

Connect-a-Dock floating boat docks

Students planned and executed a trade show exhibit from start to finish for Connect-a-Dock, a floating boat dock manufacturer. To prepare for the show in Toronto, Canada, the team completed a market analysis, identifying and researching relevant competitors and customers. They also conducted a direct marketing campaign targeted at prospective and current customers. Working hand-in-hand with Connect-a-Dock owners and their distributor in Canada, students designed the trade show booth, created a targeted raffle to collect contact information for the company's most valuable customers, managed logistics, and met with customers during the trade show. The company anticipates a 500% increase in sales from last year as a result of the project.

Actually managing a company's investment in a major international trade show was a tremendous experience. I learned just how complex the process is to make such an investment really pay off. I know I will benefit greatly from my participation in this RTCP.”—Jim Bovinet, Tippie MBA student

The Ponseti Method

Bringing Better Health Care to the World

Dr. Ponseti fixing infant club foot

The Ponseti Method, pioneered by the late University of Iowa orthopaedics professor Ignacio Ponseti, is a noninvasive orthopedic procedure that treats clubfoot without surgery. Though the method has been proven to be far superior to surgical alternatives, its use is still limited in developing countries.

As part of Associate Professor John Murry's Field Studies in Marketing course, Tippie MBA students worked with the UI-based Ponseti International Association for the Advancement of Clubfoot Treatment to develop a marketing plan. Students polled and interviewed health care providers and others in India, asking them about their knowledge and use of the Ponseti method. With this data, the team prepared a comprehensive marketing plan which will create greater awareness that this accessible treatment exists.

“This project was a great opportunity to apply the skills we're learning in class to a real-life situation, but it's also a huge opportunity to make a difference in the world and improve the lives of so many children.”—Adnan Fazal, Tippie MBA student

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Directly Impacting the Bottom Line


Photo courtesy of University Relations Photography/University of Iowa

A team of MBA students participated in a Kaizen (rapid continuous improvement) project at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, which improved the billing and coding process by 50 percent and saved the hospital $1.5 million. Students participated in preparing the activity flowcharts, timing the current process, suggesting improvements, calculating time and money savings of the suggested changes, and preparing a presentation to top management. In addition to gaining experience with the Kaizen process, the students built lasting relationships with key hospital personnel.

“I knew I would learn about health care operations through this project, but I could not imagine the additional benefits it would bring—tremendous exposure to the health care industry and the ability to meet many talented individuals. The best part was the stakeholder's feedback on the project.”—Rutwa Naik, Tippie MBA student

Allsteel Rapid Continuous Improvement

Getting Desks Delivered without Dents

Picture of modern looking desk

Picture from Desks Incorporated of Utah website

Office furniture manufacturer Allsteel sought out students from the Tippie MBA program to help them find ways to minimize damage to their products during distribution. Using the Rapid Continuous Improvement (RCI) process, the team analyzed damage statistics and identified trends and patterns; determining steps needed to ensure products are delivered undamaged. The project concluded with a presentation of results and recommendations to company representatives. Students learned how RCI is implemented to improve key outcomes for a manufacturing company and learned about the methods major manufacturers use to analyze operations data.

“Actually implementing an RCI project was a tremendous learning experience. This was a good real-world counterpart to the theory we learn in class, and I gained key insights about how to use the tools I learn in class to achieve real results in the bottom line.”Rob Soule, Tippie MBA student