Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Northeastern students win $10,000 scholarship prize in website redesign competition
Chicago-based household moving service New World Van Lines has selected Northeastern Illinois University Computer Science majors Eric Magpantay and Robin Criniere as the winners of its website design competition and recipients of the $10,000 scholarship prize.
Additionally, New World Van Lines offered a $1,000 scholarship prize each to students Emmett Murphy and Mohammed Faizuddin in recognition of the hard work they put forth during the competition.
The contest came about when New World Van Lines Chief Operating Officer Quintin Marx determined the company’s website needed an overhaul and decided to turn to Northeastern’s talented student body for help.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for students to not only get some real-world project experience, but literally earn school tuition in the process,” said Marx, who is also chair of Northeastern’s College of Business and Management Advisory Council. “Also, if we as a company could give back to the community, it would be a win for all parties involved.”
New World Van Lines, a certified woman-owned business, held three sessions at Northeastern to introduce the teams to the moving company’s business and unique position within the industry. Six applicants submitted ideas and the top three were selected to present their work to New World’s Executive Management Team, which ultimately selected a winner.
Criniere heard about the competition in an email from Computer Science Assistant Professor Francis Iocabelli.
“I was very excited about the email, so I called my classmate Eric to ask if he wanted to partner up,” Criniere said. “Since I want to get into web development, I thought entering this competition would help me gain more of an overall understanding of it.”
Criniere and Magpantay first did some research to see how New World Van Lines’ competitors’ websites looked and performed. They then got to work, drawing on their experience from their Computer Science courses.
“We designed the website together and basically created a sketched blueprint of our overall concept starting with the landing page. Then we focused our efforts on the higher traffic pages,” said Magpantay, who also plans to pursue a career in Web development. “Like any successful group, we debated for our own ideas civilly but eventually came to an agreement. A lot of revision and thought was put into our final design.”
The company’s development team will work with Criniere and Magpantay to finalize the design and launch the new website later this summer, Marx said.
“The winning submission has a fantastic visual impact but still allows for the depth required to speak to the many audiences our website must address: transferees (the people we’re moving), corporate clients, and potential employees,” Marx said. “Since New World does not participate in the consumer moving space, the site is less of a sales tool and more of an information resource, which Robin and Eric capture masterfully.”
Marx, whose wife, Olga, is also a student at Northeastern majoring in Business, said that he supports the University because it is a special place, citing the work ethic of the students and the dedication of the faculty.
“The students are usually working outside jobs and sacrificing to get through school. They really want to better themselves and better their families,” he said. “It’s a worthy struggle for them to get this education, and it is life-changing for them. If I can help some of them succeed, then I’m making a difference in people’s lives.”
Marx plans to continue his role as chair of the COBM Advisory Council and seek out opportunities to advance the students at Northeastern.
“I hope to hire many students and graduates in the future, and if future projects come up that can be done in a manner similar to the contest we had for our website, I will certainly promote it,” he said. “I hope that I can share my experience with the success of the contest with other business leaders and maybe the concept will catch on. Wouldn’t that be great to have some opportunity like this each year for the students to get involved in?”
Top photo: A mockup of Eric Magpantay and Robin Criniere’s website design.