On Thursday, December 7th, students in Cohort 28 presented the results of their 490H capstone projects at the QUEST Conference. I enjoyed seeing the concepts and tools learned in 190H and 390H being applied to real-life scenarios and having the opportunity to mingle with a wide range of attendees. Viewing the posters brought back memories of the final 190H process improvement project and watching the presentations reminded me of how QUEST really pushes its students to become innovative and critical thinkers.
During the presentations, each student spoke with confidence and engaged the audience. Noah Vernick, a Clark student in Q28, said, “Presenting at the QUEST conference was really amazing.” He said his team was very confident about their project and that he is confident most of the members in his cohort felt the same way. He added, “[Cohort 28] worked hard all semester and came up with novel solutions to the difficulties presented to us by all of the clients.” He “was very excited to break down [his team’s] approach, methods, and the impact [they] had on [their] client, Miltec UV.” He also mentioned how amazing working with Miltec UV was since “they were always supportive of [his team’s] strides along the way and were very responsive. After several site visits, [he] built a strong bond with their team which gave [his team] more motivation to give Miltec UV a valuable end product.”
Watching the presentations and learning more about Cohort 28’s innovative solutions to tough business problems was the highlight of the night, but it was just one of the many aspects of the QUEST Conference. Many alumni, friends, and family members came to the conference to watch the presentations and ended up also getting the chance to meet many influential people. Zack Khan from Cohort 29 tabled at the QUEST Conference for BMGT/ENES 491, the QUEST scoping elective. He told me that it was “an amazing opportunity to be able to greet important VIPs and guide them to the networking room” and that he was able to speak with several of them, including Alex Triantis, the Dean of the Smith School of Business. David Rosenstein of Cohort 29 also said he “enjoyed reconnecting with several employers” since he saw “a few of the Under Armour team members whom [he] recognized from QUEST networking events.” David said that the environment gave them a lot of topics to speak on, including “the presentations, the quality of projects, and even the tasty food!” David also told me that “watching Q28 give their final capstone presentations gave [him] a whirlwind of emotions” and that he can’t wait to “share the stage with Cohort 29 next semester and present for professionals, the quality guild, fellow students, and [his] parents!”
I also spoke to several other students from Cohort 29 on what they thought about the conference, mainly because they will be taking 490H next semester. Kellen Liu from Cohort 29 said, “Attending the QUEST Conference was a great experience this semester… I really enjoyed seeing the various projects and companies that 490H teams worked on and listening to project overviews from the students.” She also mentioned, “After seeing the real impacts that these teams were able to make with these companies, I am even more excited for 490H next semester and to work with my fellow Cohort 29-ers.” Zarek Peris, another student from Cohort 29, said that after viewing the presentations, he believes that “490H seems like it’s a lot of work so it’s a bit intimidating,” but that he’s “excited to make a real impact for a real client.”
After talking to several students about their experiences with the QUEST Conference, whether they were presenting, volunteering, or simply appreciating the presentations, I wanted to get some insight on how alumni feel returning to UMD for the QUEST Conference as well. I decided to reach out to Krishang Sharma, Cohort 23, on why he stays involved with QUEST, not just by coming to all of the conferences, but also by attending various QUEST events like the QUEST Corporate Networking Session. He said, “The alumni organization is really strong with QUEST. Every time I come back for a QUEST Conference, I see familiar faces from my cohort and those before.” Krishang works for Leidos, a corporate sponsor for QUEST, which is one of the reasons he goes to QUEST events so frequently. His employer gave him the opportunity to work as a project champion for two 490H capstone projects and the fact that he went through the QUEST curriculum himself and scoped projects in the scoping elective BMGT/ENES 491 before going on to work with a corporate partner allowed him to see “how much value is added to both the students and the company.”
Overall, the QUEST Conference was a success. Attendees had a lot of fun bonding with each other over fantastic hors d’oeuvres and brilliant presentations, and I had a great time learning more about the experiences of alumni and my fellow peers. Years of learning about all of the QUEST concepts and values pay off greatly in the end when students can utilize all that they’ve learned and compile it into one final presentation they can showcase to the QUEST community! Next semester, it will be my turn to work with students from Cohort 29 and come up with innovative solutions for a client, and I am glad I learned firsthand how much of an impact student recommendations can make for companies.