The Spartans couldn’t figure it out, so they’re commissioning Wolverines to fix East Lansing’s parking woes.

The 2014 Ford School Case Competition is an opportunity for Public Policy graduate students to work collaboratively to address the parking needs in the city of East Lansing. The inaugural kickoff event for the competition took place in Weill Hall on Thursday night.

Teams of three to five Master of Public Policy degree candidates will collaborate in finding creative solutions to East Lansing’s parking issues. Home of Michigan State University, the city struggles to provide an adequate number of spots for all students and residents. The team with the best solution will have the opportunity to present their proposal to the East Lansing City Council. If deemed feasible and efficient, it might be implemented.

The idea for the Case Competition was created last spring from Ford School of Public Policy graduate students. This competition evolved into medium term cases of 10 days, as opposed to solely a weekend or 24 hours — all timeframes used for similar Public Policy School competitions.

The teams are provided with Public Policy alumni as mentors, and specifically alumni who are working in city government capacities or have other public sector experience, to incorporate real-world knowledge and ideas into the case.

“Mentors will help to guide students and push them to think about the different risks involved with the proposal, how those risks could be mitigated, to think about the gaps in their thinking that would ultimately be addressed by the city council when they are presenting their proposals just so they are ready and have thought about all the externalities,” Patten said.

The teams are encouraged to visit East Lansing to better understand the context and situation of the problem.

“We are going up to visit the city to gain a personal perspective. One of my team members is from there. It should be interesting to see what the city is like, what lessons we can pile from having not lived in a University town,” said Rasheed Malik, a Public Policy graduate student.

The teams are expected to use problem-solving skills to formulate and test hypotheses, develop work plans and issue different kinds of analysis. The teams are provided with real data that they are expected to analyze and use for solutions and proposals.

A judging rubric is available for the first round of the competition. Based on a numeric scale of 65 points, the first-round judging focuses on the identification, interpretation and analysis of the case, and the ability of the team to explain and defend its case and strategy. Most importantly, the proposal must be legal, fiscally sound and politically feasible. The rubric also includes the need for the demonstration of originality and creativity.

The competition attracted students from different backgrounds for several reasons.

“I am an international student. I am really interested in issues of urban policy. And this would be my only chance to work within the local government framework and I was very interested to see how they operate,” said Sneha Rao, a Public Policy graduate student.

The kickoff event will be followed by a first round of selection, designed to engage with clients for scheduled calls, to ask questions and request additional information. The second round of selection will focus on the advancing team’s improvement of their submitted proposals and the development of their oral presentations.

The 2014 Case Competition showcase and awards event will take place at 1210 Weill Hall on Nov. 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

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