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UC Team Earns Honorable Mention in the Rotman Design Challenge


UC design and business graduate students recently won an honorable mention in the prestigious Rotman Design Challenge in Toronto.

Date: 5/6/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided by Kyrsten Sanderson

UC ingot   The Rotman Design Challenge is the only student-run competition incorporating both business and design concepts in North America.

This year, the contest – which focused on social innovation – drew teams from MBA schools as well as the best design schools in Canada and the United States. All came together at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management to present concepts to help client TD Bank foster lifelong customer relationships with students and recent graduates, while encouraging healthy financial behavior.

The University of Cincinnati sent a team consisting of students from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) and the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. Those students were
Image of a Pivot interface page.
Concept for an online page from the "Pivot" interface.


  • Cecilia Arredondo, master of design student
  • Ricardo Elizondo Costa, master of design student
  • Ashley Kempher, master of marketing student
  • Kyrsten Sanderson, master of design student
  • Sepideh Shahi, master of design student
The UC team designed a concept that focuses on building a deeper trust between a bank and its clients by employing web technology.

Their idea consisted of a web interface titled “Pivot.” The interface would foster a mentorship program, allowing more-experienced financial customers, e.g., those who had already used a product like a federal student loan to share their experiences – both good and bad – with those contemplating the use of a financial tool.

Said Sanderson, “For instance, a college student considering federal or private loans could query recent graduates about their experiences with these options.”

“Pivot” participants would earn rewards from the bank for participation.

Other “Pivot” options could allow mentor members to be paired with business members to network within the bank. Or, via “Pivot, an option for a loan-repayment challenge would allow you to team up with other bank members to repay student loans. This would incentivize loan repayment, and the members could benefit from additional bank rewards.

Sanderson added that the concept would, in technical and personnel terms, not be too much of a stretch for a bank, which could make use of its core, secure web site and technology/design personnel to realize such an idea.

Both Sanderson and Shahi presented the concept to business professionals during the Rotman contest, earning an honorable mention. A good showing considering they had only 15 minutes to convince a panel of experienced professionals that the concept had validity.

However, the best part of participating in the project, according to Sanderson was “to do something based on what we’ve learned in our master’s program and apply it to the real world, doing so while working together as a team.”

Kempher, who earned a DAAP fine art photography degree in 2008 and is now earning a master’s in marketing, agreed stating, “The best part of the project was making use of experiences from both DAAP and LCOB in one project.”

She added that, overall, the Rotman was a good learning experience: “It brought home once more that when working on a project of this magnitude, it’s important to have more than one idea, to explore lots of options. Only by exploring an idea from multiple viewpoints and perspectives do you ultimately have a successful result.”