Campaigns, cups and canoes

Students learn teamwork and gain real-life experience in collegiate competitions

University of Nevada, Reno journalism students (from left to right) Tony Castaneda, Jessy Fagundes, Matt Lush, Aaron Walton and Clare Mason compete in the Bateman Case Study Competition for the first time in seven years. Finalists will be announced by April 13, and will have an opportunity to present to a panel of national judges.

4/4/2014 | By: Patrick Harris  |

The University of Nevada, Reno's spring semester is in full swing, which means competition season is heating up. Teams from multiple University disciplines have formed competitive teams for their respective contests.

"Throughout competitions, students have an opportunity to obtain real-life experience, complete with unexpected obstacles and challenges that require real-time adjustments," said Natalie Brown, an APR professional who does communications for Wells Fargo in Reno and the professional advisor for the University's Bateman team in the Reynolds School of Journalism. "In addition, the teamwork aspect helps reinforce important life and work lessons related to working in a group setting, including taking advantage of each person's unique characteristics and skills to benefit the project."

A five-person team of journalism students fully grasped the group experience while creating a public relations campaign for the Bateman Case Study Competition. The students - Tony Castaneda, Jessy Fagundes, Matt Lush, Clare Mason and Aaron Walton - took up the challenge of working for a real-work client, Popmoney, to help increase the company's brand awareness. Popmoney is a company that offers digital financial transactions from person-to-person.

"In previous years, winners of the Bateman competition have focused on quantity with lots of tactics and objectives," Lush said. "Our team is focusing on quality. We only have one objective that we wanted to do really well."

During the last two weeks of February, Lush and the team launched their public relations campaign to educate at least 300 college students about Popmoney. The campaign involved advertisements on University television monitors, social media competitions, class presentations, and a short educational video shown prior to a free movie shown Thursday nights at the Joe Crowley Student Union Theatre. By the end of the month, 781 students had learned about the company and more than 17,000 media impressions had been made.

"I was very impressed with the caliber of thinking, collaboration and follow through displayed by this year's Bateman Competition team," Brown said. "They worked hard during all phases of the campaign - research, planning, implementation and evaluation - and I think it showed in the quality and efficacy of their campaign."

The team sent their final report to national Bateman Competition judges at the end of March. Competition finalists will be chosen by April 13, in which finalists are invited to present their campaign to Popmoney executives this May. Of the finalists, the top three-teams will be recognized at the national PRSSA Conference in Washington, D.C. in October.

"We're all very excited," Lush said. "This is the first time a team from the University has competed in seven years. We feel like we did a good job and we're very hopeful for success."

Success and student excellence have already been achieved this year. The University's International Genetically Engineered Machine team received a silver medal at the 2013 iGEM competition. At this year's Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, student group Irrigo was awarded $50,000 to continue research on irrigation tactics for agriculture. Most recently, the University's debate team won the Season Sweepstakes National Title awarded by the National Parliamentary Debate Association, and this weekend, the University's concrete canoe team travels to Fresno for the regional competition. The canoe team has qualified for national competition in each of the last eight years, bringing home the gold medal in 2008.

Other upcoming competitions for University teams include:

Intercollegiate Mining Competition
Date: April 2-6
Location: Colorado School of Mines, Colo.
Competition: Geology students compete in seven events: gold panning, track stand, ore muck, swede saw, hand steel, jackleg and survey. Each competition involves the use of a tool common in mining practices.

Concrete Canoe
Regional Date: April 3-5 at California State University, Fresno, Calif.
National Date: June 19-21 at University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Pa.
Competition: Civil engineering students race canoes of concrete in sprint, endurance and coed heats during the Mid-Pacific Student Conference.

Integrated Marketing Communications Competition - Business and Journalism Schools
Regional Date: April 5 in Berkeley, Calif.
National Date: May 28-31 in Boca Raton, Fla.
Competition: University teams present business and marketing plans for client. This year's sponsor is Mary Kay, a direct-sales company with cosmetic products.

PRSSA Bateman Case Study Competition
Date: April 12-13
Competition: Teams form campaigns to boost awareness and promote Popmoney, a personal payment service available at more than 1,900 banks and credit unions.

Governor's Cup Dinner
Finalists Announced: April 3
Awards Dinner: April 17 at the Atlantis, 5:30 p.m.
Competition: College students form multi-disciplinary teams present original business plans. Winners receive $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 for first, second and third, respectively.

MicroMouse Competition
Date: April 19
Location: University of Nevada, Reno
Competition: Engineering students develop a miniature robotic vehicle that runs through a maze.

Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Class Presentations

Date: May 6
Location: Lawn in front of the University's Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.
Competition: Students in mechanical engineering present final projects of original inventions.


For more news on the University of Nevada, Reno, follow @unevadareno on Twitter.

Get Nevada Today in your Inbox!