McDonough School of Business
News Story

MBAs Win Fuels Institute’s Student Competition

Three students from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business took top honors at the 2017 Fuels Institute Case Competition in Denver, Colorado, for their proposal on incorporating liquefied natural gas into the U.S. transition to autonomous vehicles.

The case competition’s theme, “Introducing a New Transportation Energy System,” asked each student team to establish a plan for introducing a new fuel (non-specific source of energy) and light-duty vehicle configuration into the market by leveraging historic experience and demonstrating the return on investment for fuel producers, vehicle manufacturers, fuel retailers, and consumers. Students were asked to develop a market strategy that could enable an alternative fuel and vehicle to enter the market and satisfy consumers in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.

Georgetown MBA students Corey Curnutte (MBA’18), Mary Fay (MBA’18), and Jesse Spodak (MBA’18) outlined how their model would rely on liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power fleets of autonomous, light-duty vehicles for shared use in urban areas. They cited several advantages that LNG can provide over other fuel sources, including low and stable prices, energy density, and an already developed infrastructure within the United States. These advantages would best be leveraged by ride-sharing fleets of vehicles using autonomous technology. They concluded that among other fueling options for an autonomous fleet, LNG is the optimum choice for this growing, dynamic segment of the market.

The Georgetown McDonough students competed against 11 other teams from nine schools. Three teams of finalists presented their cases in Denver and fielded questions from more than 100 professionals in the fuels and vehicle and transportation industries, who then selected the top model. The winning team received a prize of $5,000. All finalists will have their final submissions published by the Fuels Institute and were given an opportunity to interview for internships with the Fuels Institute, along with competition sponsors Phillips 66 and Tesoro Corporation.

“The three [teams of finalists] did a tremendous job,” said John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute. “I was incredibly impressed by the poise of these student teams. They were tasked with answering market transition questions that industry professionals have been struggling to answer for years, and they all provided some fresh insight that can help move these other projects forward. It is refreshing to see young, emerging professionals tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the market today.”