2024 Smeal Undergraduate Sustainability Case Competition

2024 Undergraduate Sustainable Case Competition 

The competition is organized by the Smeal Center for the Business of Sustainability, Smeal Diversity Enhancement Programs, and Morgan State University.  

The competition is a hands-on opportunity to work on a cross-disciplinary team and to use business and economic principles to solve real-world social justice and environmental conservation challenges. Student teams who make it to the finals will have the opportunity to network with a unique community of peers and professionals, learn about graduate programs to further their education, and interact with some of today’s leading sustainability and social impact leaders. Registration is now closed. 


  • 1st place: $3,000 
  • 2nd place: $2,000 
  • 3rd place: $1,000 

What is the Focus of the Case Competition? 

This year’s case will focus on the housing crisis many people face on a day-to-day basis. From supply chain disruptions leading to a shortage of materials to chronic homelessness, housing is a basic need that needs to be met so individuals and families can thrive. We would like teams to take a deeper dive into these issues, highlighting solutions that are applicable within your local and surrounding community.  

Who Can Participate? 

The competition is open to Penn State undergraduate students from any Commonwealth Campus and students from invited institutions. To take part, students will put together teams of four but no more than 5 members, two of whom are required to be business majors.    

How to Register?  

To register, one student from a team will enter the registration site to enter a team name and register each team member. Be sure to have this information BEFORE starting registration. After registering, each team member will have access to the platform and be able to upload materials. Registration for this event is now closed

What are the competition rules? 

All submitted and presented work must be the work of the student team. The team is strongly encouraged to seek out the appropriate subject matter experts who can help the team understand the issues, challenges, and potential solutions related to the case. Students may work with a faculty advisor or mentor who can provide guidance and feedback on the team’s research, analysis, and presentation. However, in the end, all submitted and presented work must be the work of the student team. 

Who will judge? 

The judges for the Case Competition will be secured before the competition and will be comprised of Penn State faculty and staff, Morgan State University faculty and staff, Smeal alumni, and Impact Competition.  

Team submissions  

Submission requirements 

  • Each team must submit a video not to exceed 15 minutes in length. In the video, the team will present their analysis and recommendations. Each team member must participate in the presentation. 
  • The review process is anonymous. DO NOT include any team member names or photos on any PowerPoints; also, DO NOT include the name, logo, or any identifying information of your institution, college, or campus. Videos should be voiceover only. 
  • There is no required minimum or maximum number of slides; it is up to your team to determine the appropriate number of slides for a 15-minute presentation. 
  • Teams must be sure to document ALL sources of information to avoid plagiarism. The list of sources does not need to be part of the presentation, but it should be submitted with accompanying files. APA (American Psychological Association) style is preferred. 
  • Teams will be scored based on their video presentation and accompanying files (i.e. PowerPoint or similar presentation platforms). 
  • Reviewers for the teams’ submissions will be made up of Penn State faculty and staff. 

How to Submit 

  • To submit the video of your team’s presentation, upload it to a video-sharing platform such as YouTube or Vimeo and submit a link to the video. 
  • You will submit this link using the same site where you registered your team, using the same credentials provided when registering. 
  • You will be submitting a PPT and PDF version of your presentation. Use your team’s name as the filename of your submitted presentation. For example, if your team is The Squirrels, you would name the PowerPoint version “thesquirrels.pptx” and the PDF version “thesquirrels.pdf”. 

Submission deadline 

  • Videos of team presentations, the PPT, and PDF versions of accompanying slides/PowerPoints will be due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, March 1, 2023. 
  • Any submissions received after this time will not be considered for judging. 

Key Dates 

  • November 6: Registration Opens - at 8:00 am EST 
  • December 8: Registration Closes - 7:00 pm EST 
  • January 19: Case Released - 5:00 pm EST 
  • TBD: Power Hour: Expert Panel Q&A - 9:00 am EST 
  • March 1: Initial Submission Due - 11:59 pm EST 
  • March 15: Finalist Announced - 5:00 pm EST 
  • April 5: Finals (Finalists Present In-person at Penn State University Park Campus) - Location TBD 

Finalist Accommodations  

The Center for the Business of Sustainability will provide food, lodging, and parking accommodations. All other expenses incurred will need to be submitted to your local institution for reimbursement. 


Please forward all questions to Tracey Mariner via email at: tcd119@psu.edu or  smealsustainability@psu.edu.