Schulich professor partners with industry leader to design innovative case competition

Large-scale infrastructure projects are complex and require close coordination and cooperation between the public, private and civic sector. It’s for that reason York University Professor Sherena Hussain, of Schulich’s Brookfield Centre in Real Estate & Infrastructure, chose to structure a course around the subject of partnership models.

Schulich Professor Sherena Hussain

To better expose students to the complexity of a substantial infrastructure project, Hussain eschewed a traditional final exam, and instead organized a class project in the form of a case competition – with assistance from industry leaders.

Hussain partnered with Enbridge Gas and a panel of industry leaders to challenge students to come up with a partnership model for introducing sustainable public transit infrastructure powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).

Students were asked to form groups and put together a business case to answer questions like: how would we be able to introduce infrastructure facilitating CNG-powered public transit without fuelling stations; how can we fulfill sustainability objectives while also delivering a financial return for private partners; and how can partnerships evolve as new technologies emerge?

“Students were given the chance to think creatively, use their problem-solving skills, apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world, topical problem, and present it to a senior market leader,” Hussain said.

The panel provided feedback and ranked the business cases. For the top-ranking team, Enbridge donated a monetary prize and the opportunity to present their case to the president of Enbridge Gas at their Toronto office.

Designed by Hussain for Schulich’s Master of Business Administration and Master of Real Estate & Infrastructure programs to provide graduate business students foundational infrastructure training set in the real world, the case competition was a hit with the students. It is illustrative of why industry leaders are eager to bring Schulich graduates into their ranks.