For the last three years, teams of highly motivated and talented accounting majors have participated in Deloitte’s Audit Innovation Campus Challenge. This year’s team included Tyler Boyd, Anna Heintz, Alex Kilinski, Erin Lavelle, and Charlotte Ruhlin, with Terry Knause, a retired Deloitte partner, as faculty advisor.
Clemson’s team was pitted against seven other colleges and universities in the Atlanta region, as part of six regions and 56 colleges and universities nationwide competing in the challenge.
This year’s challenge was to identify a “breakthrough” idea to deliver professional services for a “critical future marketplace need” that would enable Deloitte to expand its service offerings and differentiate Deloitte in the marketplace.
The Clemson team addressed the growing world-wide food shortage due to increasing population and declining arable land, specifically proposing a wide range of professional services to the “vertical farming industry”. The proposed professional services included debt and capital advisory services, use of artificial intelligence to more efficiently operate the vertical farms, and independent reporting to consumers that the produce was organically grown.
The Clemson team had a strong oral audio-visual presentation and deftly handled the Q&A from a team of judges, making it to the finals of the regional competition. “The team learned so many things by participating in the competition”, said Terry Knause, “including overcoming public speaking fears, setting priorities, and working against deadlines. This gave the students great exposure to public accounting and the innovative technology tools being used today.” Anna Heinz noted that although the team members didn’t know each other at the start, they grew very close and had a lot of fun during the challenge, stating that “the ability to trust and rely on your teammates to contribute ideas and offer encouragement made it a lot easier to keep a good attitude and work through challenges to bring the project together.”
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