From Philadelphia with love: University students win global real estate award challenge

By Adam Kaz, Staff Writer

On November 16, 2016, a group of students from the University of Illinois bested three other finalists in order to win the CoreNet Global Academic challenge.

Students Nick Bartholomew, Ines Andrade, Logan Walker, Zach Tuczak and Esther Cho applied along with 45 other schools for the corporate real estate competition. The other three schools invited to take part in the competition were the University of Houston, Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay.

Held in Philadelphia, the CoreNet Academic challenge asks students to address challenges faced by corporate real estate professionals, according to a press release from CoreNet Global.

Dean Jordan, Vice President of University and External Relations for CoreNet Global, said the goal of the event is to inspire students to get involved in corporate real estate to offset the high retirement rate in the profession.

“The bulk of students have no idea what corporate real estate is. They’ve heard of commercial, they lived in residential. Corporate real estate is not taught, there’s no curriculum, there are no textbooks,” Jordan said. 

Tuczak said that he thought the international scale brought a unique diversity of teams in both education and experience.

“While we were arguably the youngest team there, it was interesting to see how different teams applied their experiences into their solutions,” Tuczak said.

CoreNet Global, a corporate real estate professional organization, launched the Academic Challenge last year to raise awareness about the issues raised in the ever changing world of corporate real estate.

According to the press release, corporate real estate is increasingly complex and intertwined with other corporate functions including technology and information systems, the workplace, sustainable environment, finance, site selection and even overall corporate branding.

Each team was given an industry and asked to outline a proposal for how to build an attractive corporate environment, Jordan said.

“They [the University students] were comprehensive in their approach to the employee experience,” Jordan said. “They hit a lot of high points in terms of some of the aspects of the employee experience that are most talked about, whether its wellness or food or office layout or lighting.”

Specifically, the University’s winning presentation outlined a fictional finance group with innovative workplace practices.

Tuczak said that their ability to collect raw data from their own personal internship experiences ultimately distinguished their team from the other schools.

“It made our solution more heart-felt and allowed us to speak on a new-age working environment level that no other team covered,” Tuczak said.

The team won $5,000 and the University will receive an additional $5,000 to support corporate real estate education.

Aaron Navarro contributed to this report. 

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