Livingston, N.J.-based Wiss & Company rolled out a pilot program challenging teams of Montclair State University accounting majors to create and present an expanded business plan for a fictitious soft drink company. The goal? To get students using their knowledge, creativity and communication skills in the area of accounting and business planning.

The case study competition, dubbed Wiss Campus Connections, featured 18 teams of students from three different classes at Montclair State competing against one another for a top prize of $500 per team member. Once the case study was introduced to each class by the professor, members of the Wiss team visited the classrooms to discuss the topic in greater detail, gather feedback and answer student questions.

Each group of four to five students was armed with background information, a project plan, financials and an array of other business communications. Each team then executed a presentation of their overall plan of action for the soft drink company - how to expand into the energy drink market - to their professors, who narrowed the field to six team finalists.

Those finalists went on to present their ideas before a Wiss judging panel – who graded them on creativity, knowledge of subject matter, interpretation of the facts presented, their belief in the conclusions they had come to and their arguments to back up their decisions. They were also judged on their overall presentation skills.

The winning team of juniors was honored along with the second and third place teams, who also received cash prizes, at a recent awards dinner hosted by Wiss & Company.

“This competition allows us to give accounting majors the opportunity to develop hands-on experience relevant to their field of study,” said Jeff Campo, managing partner at Wiss & Company. “Through this competition we are creating a much-needed business focus on providing students with an education in the core values we live today – communication, teamwork, integrity, execution and energy.”