Awards for UAlbany School of Business Students

Student winners of the Price Chopper Innovation Challenge

Student winners of the Price Chopper Innovation Challenge with Mark Boucher ’06, Vice President for Operational Administration for Price Chopper (seated center), School of Business Dean Donald S. Siegel, and Professors Paul Schurr, Peter Duchessi, and Suraj Commuri.

Champions abounded in the School of Business this spring. Students were top finishers in three contests:  The Price Chopper Innovation Awards, The Tech Valley Business Plan Competition and the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Pepsi Refresh Project

The first person in his family to go to college, Dan Bocanegra ‘08, ’10, played football for UAlbany while earning a BS in Business and then chose our MBA program to further his education. 

Bocanegra and friends sold distinctive T-shirts to raise money to purchase 1,000 bed nets to prevent malaria, and then visited Africa to distribute the nets to villages in Kenya and Ethiopia.  While finishing his MBA, Bocanegra entered his idea for Selfless Tee, “clothing with a social conscience” in the Pepsi Refresh Project.  He placed in the top ten and was awarded $50,000 to bring the project to fruition.

This is not his first venture into philanthropy. When Bocanegra was an undergrad, he served as a board member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee – the group raised $2,000 for Habitat for Humanity. More on Bocanegra’s current accomplishment can be found here.>

Tech Valley Business Plan Competition

Technically, Robert Hymes ’08 is an alumnus.  But this spring he served as CFO alongside students from the UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.  After completing his degree in 2008, Hymes maintained his relationship with CNSE students he had worked with on an MBA project.  This spring, he teamed up with student scientists who developed a lightweight automobile battery.  Their product touts a 50% decrease in weight and volume, combined with a 50% increase in power – significant factors for electric and hybrid cars. Hymes, as team CFO, believes that the dramatic value proposition propelled their team to the finals and on to receive the top honors.  He said, “It was an easy sell.”

For the winning project, Hymes’ team, BESS-Technologies, was awarded support to launch their start-up company: $10,000 cash, $8,000 in legal services from Heslin, Rothenberg, Farley, and Mesiti, PC, and $1,000 in consulting services from ECG Consulting Group Inc.  

Price Chopper Innovation Awards

Three of the top seven finishers in the Price Chopper Innovation Challenge were teams from the School of Business, representing our three MBA programs: the traditional fulltime day program, the Evening MBA program for working professionals and the executive style Weekend MBA program.

Professor Peter Duchessi and student winner of Price chopper Award


A team of fulltime students developed an idea for a smart phone application to allow busy shoppers to scan their items as they put them into their carts, allowing them to sail through checkout lines.

The members of the team have a varied background: Last summer, Like Hymes, Nicholas Querques ’09,’11, has made the most of the School of Business relationship with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.  At this time last year, he secured an impressive summer job as research assistant for the CNSE, which he continues this summer. More remarkably, the finance grad’s research in nanotechnology has been published. The interests of Querques’ teammates on the Price Chopper project run the gamut.  Kevin McGarry is an attorney-in-training, a member of the fledgling JD/MBA program. Jon Nicolla is General Manager of the Oneonta Outlaws, a semi-pro baseball team affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Price Chopper Innovation Award Winners

Querques said, “This was Kevin’s brainchild. We had a lot of fun and put a lot of work into it. We want to thank Price Chopper and Dr. Duchessi for the opportunity. I want to get started for next year.” In May, in the MBA class Going Green Globally, Querques worked on another project for Price Chopper: laying the groundwork for Global Reporting Initiative certification for sustainability efforts.

Yet another smart phone application came out a winner for the School of Business. Joe DeConno, U.S. Benefits Manager for SABIC Innovative Plastics, and Linda Verde, a producer for the Electric Sheep Company worked with marketing professor Suraj Commuri on an application for iPhone and Blackberry that locates stores with GPS, maps the quickest way to get through the store, and allows customers to provide immediate feedback to store associates on their shopping experience.

Price chopper Innovation Award Winners

DeConno said, “I’m an HR professional and my partner is in web design.  For this project, we took everything we learned in the past 22 months. Price Chopper plans to release the first version of the app in 30 days.  It speaks to the strength of the Weekend Program. The education of the past two years got us to this point.”

Another winning idea came from the working professionals enrolled in the Evening MBA Program:  cyber grocery shopping.  Customers order groceries online, indicating pick up time, and then drive up to the store. Associates load the bags into the waiting car along with a surprise, based on the customer’s demographic and the time of year – a bouquet on Mother’s Day weekend, candy anytime, or even a dog biscuit for Rover in the backseat.

Ilene Friedman, who will graduate in December, and Jen Brown ’10, Associate Auditor for the New York State Comptroller worked together on the winning project. Associate Professor Paul Schurr advised them. Freidman said, “It was a great opportunity.  We presented to a board of vice presidents.” She noted that 53 teams and nine schools competed in the first round and the three UAlbany teams were among the seven ultimate winners.

Price Chopper Innovatin Award Winners

In Spring 2010, the School of Business students were once again well represented in University and state-wide SUNY awards.

The 23rd Annual President’s Award for Leadership honored one club and 16 students from the School of Business for accomplishments of extraordinary leadership, service, involvement within the university community and strong academic performance.

School of Business club, Albany Business Leaders Emerging not only wants your money.  They are out for blood. ABLE won the University’s Community Service Award for their Thanksgiving Food Drive, fundraising work for the Salvation Army and club-sponsored blood drive.

Steven Berkowitz ’11, accounting, Roopa Bhopale ’10, Whitney Brown ’11, Chad Schneider ’11 and Ryan Wilkinson’10 received the Great Dane Award for exceptional leadership in co-curricular activities.

The winners of the Outstanding Senior Award for their contributions to the university were three accounting students Alexis Imprescia ’10, the president of Delta Sigma Pi, and Janelle Murphy ’10, treasurer for the National Association of Black Accountants, Kyra Newman ’10, vice president for the University Dance Council, and business students Andrew Bittner, president of the Pre-Law Association, Daren Pon ’10, president of the Dean’s Leadership Council, Jessica Ruvulo ’10, president of the University Dance Council, and Valerie Sourbeer ’10, member of the American East All-Conference Team and All-Academic Team for volleyball.

Neema Moghadam ’11 won the Community Service Leadership Award for his demonstration of unselfish involvement in the community. Moghadam completed over 50 hours of service for 15Love, teaching tennis to urban youth.

The Justice Award for student commitment to fairness and equity, went to Bernadette Orende ’10 for her work as a Student Association Supreme Court Justice and involvement as Community Service Chair for Third World Impact.

Kimberly Sumcizk ’10 was honored with the Rod Hart Memorial Award for her work as Community Service Chair for Delta Sigma Pi and her strong academic record.

The Greek Leadership Award went to Rebecca Weiner ’10 president of Alpha Epsilon Phi.

Our students have also received statewide accolades this spring.  Accounting students Janelle Murphy ’10, Kyra Newman ’10 and business student Daren Pon ‘10 have been selected as recipients of the State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence, recognizing graduating students who have demonstrated the highest levels of academic excellence.  Murphy and Pon are members of the first class of students admitted to the Direct Admit program four years ago.  They graduate this spring.