AU SIFE Team Wins National Competition
Anderson University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team was selected as the national winner in the Sam’s Club Environmental Sustainability Challenge in the Spring of 2009 in Philadelphia, Pa. The AU SIFE team was in competition with 86 other colleges and universities nationwide.
Dr. Miren Ivankovic (center), associate professor of economics/finance and faculty advisor for the SIFE team, along with AU seniors Ethan Schaffer (left), of Baltimore, Ohio, and Katie Van Gieson (right), of Greer, accept the winning trophy and $5,000 check at the Sam’s Club Environmental Sustainability Challenge national competition.
"This was a great opportunity afforded our SIFE students to show off the knowledge and skills learned at AU in a national forum,” according to Dr. Bill Laing, one of the faculty advisors for the SIFE team. “AU business students continue to show that they are competitive on the national stage."
The goal of the challenge, sponsored by Sam’s Club, was to inspire environmentally sustainable practices in the lives of Sam’s Club small business customers and their businesses as well as within their customers and communities. The AU SIFE team members worked with existing two Sam's Club small business clients—Bill’s Restaurant and Skin’s Hot Dogs—to incorporate environmentally friendly changes and, in turn, improve their financial efficiency.
The students conducted energy audits at the restaurants and made changes, such as the replacement of light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs, motion sensor lighting in restrooms, new air filters, and door sweeps for ventilation security. As a result of these changes, both restaurants experienced a significant reduction in their power bills. “We saw a 12 percent decrease in our power bill in just the first month,” said Bill Forrest, owner of Bill’s Restaurant. “The savings will definitely have a positive long-term impact on the restaurant.”
According to Anderson University senior Katie Van Gieson, who worked on the project, the students are hoping these small steps toward environmental sustainability will encourage other businesses in the community to consider making similar changes. “The SIFE team helped the two businesses save not only a total of $1,600 in a year’s time, but also reduced the amount of energy being used by simply replacing existing materials with energy efficient products, said Van Gieson. “ I think the results will influence the rest of the community to try to ‘Go Green.’ ”
As winners of the competition, the SIFE team is the recipient of a $5,000 grant, which will be used to fund SIFE projects for the coming academic year.
SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders. Participating students form teams on their university campuses and apply business concepts to develop outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living.