CSE student part of first-place team at the 2015 U of M Global Health Case Competition

College of Science and Engineering graduate student Brian Mikolajczyk was part of an interdisciplinary team of University of Minnesota students that won first place at the 2015 U of M Global Health Case Competition.

The U of M Global Health Case Competition brings together teams of students from across the University to collaboratively analyze real-world global health challenges and provide strategic recommendations.

This year’s case asked the 14 participating teams to select a city in Uganda, India or Thailand that would be best equipped to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. The teams had to propose a bid to the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations highlighting their cities' financial and logistical ability to host the Games.

“The case required a collaborative approach among many academic disciplines,” Mikolajczyk said. “Our team had experience and knowledge in areas such as business, healthcare administration, medicine, pharmacy, and engineering, which helped in attacking such a complex problem.”

After evaluating different cities, Mikolajczyk’s team chose Bangkok, Thailand as its host city based on factors such as infrastructure readiness, safety, and financial capability.

The case also challenged teams to identify public health needs in their host countries, and find innovative and realistic ways to use the Olympics to improve the wellbeing of the citizens.

“One of our suggestions was partnering with the country’s Buddhist monks, who are considered community leaders in Thailand, to be used in public health campaigns,” Mikolajczyk said. “We also suggested transforming the Olympic torch relay into a traveling health, fitness, and wellness fair, and we had a series of anti-smoking public policy initiatives.”

The teams presented their recommendations to an expert panel of judges, who determined the winners.

Mikolajczyk’s team received $500 and is waitlisted for possible participation in the Emory Global Health Case Competition in March.

Mikolajczyk says he learned a lot from participating in the U of M Global Health Case Competition and collaborating with students from other disciplines.

“The case is reflective of today’s healthcare, research, and business environments in that a variety of experience and training is needed to solve problems,” Mikolajczyk said.

The other members of the winning team are:

  • Kathryn Gustafson, College of Pharmacy
  • Balvindar Singh, College of Biological Sciences
  • Tarun Jain, Carlson School of Management
  • Nils Johnson, School of Public Health
  • Dr. Srinand Sreevatsan (team coach), College of Veterinary Medicine