2017 Case Competition

Introducing a New Transportation Energy System

The Official 2017 Rule Book (PDF) can be found here.

The Fuels Institute, a multi-industry think tank, is hosting its 2017 Future of Transportation case competition. It is expected that each competing team will familiarize themselves with these rules and guidelines and that they will abide by them in the spirit of the competition. Students from three teams selected for the final round will have an opportunity to interview for internships at Nissan North America, Phillips 66, Tesoro Corporation and Fuels Institute. (Note: Other internship opportunities may be added during the course of the competition.) In addition, finalists will be flown to Denver, CO, May 23-24, 2017, to present to industry executives for final judging at the Fuels Institute Annual Meeting. There they will compete for cash prizes and enjoy networking opportunities.

The Case: Establish a plan for introducing a new fuel (non-specific source of energy) and light-duty vehicle configuration into the market leveraging historic experience and demonstrating the return on investment for fuel producers, vehicle manufacturers, fuel retailers and consumers. View case question details(PDF).

Eligibility & Teams

All participants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be enrolled in a collegiate undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate program
  2. Each team must consist of at least three students (no maximum)
  3. Each team must select a “team captain” to be the main point of contact between the Fuels Institute and the team
  4. The team captain must be a student and a member of the competing team
  5. Once teams are selected, no other team member substitutions will be permitted (with the exception of emergencies)
  6. Only three students per team will be invited to travel to Denver to present your findings - teams will need to determine amongst themselves who will attend if invited
  7. Multiple teams from one university may compete (no maximum)
  8. Teams are strongly encouraged to be multi-disciplinary

Competition Format

The competition shall consist of three stages:

  1. Round One (Abstract submission)
  2. Round Two (Case submission)
  3. Round Three (On-site presentation)

Round One

Judges will select only 15 submissions from a pool of abstracts to be invited to round two. The abstract submission is a detailed outline of your theme and how you plan to prove your theory in a full submission.

  1. Abstracts will be a minimum of one page and a maximum of two pages
  2. Abstracts should have a cover page (this page does not count against your two-page maximum) that lists the title, university name and team members first and last names in alphabetical order by last name
  3. The abstract title should be concise and clearly convey the subject of the abstract
  4. Abstracts should NOT include any artwork, charts or graphs
  5. Each team is allowed to submit a maximum of three abstracts
  6. Only one abstract per team will have an opportunity to be selected to move to round two
  7. All abstracts are due to Donovan Woods, by Friday, October 7, 2016 at 9PM EST.
  8. Team captains will be notified by e-mail whether their team has or has not been invited to round two of the competition on Friday, October 14, 2016 after 3PM EST.
  9. Format all abstracts with the following page layout:
    • 1" margins
    • 12-point font, Arial
    • Double-spaced
    • Single-sided print

Abstract Deadline: October 14, 2016

Round Two

Judges will select only three teams from a pool of 15 abstracts to be invited to round three. If teams have submitted multiple abstracts, only one abstract will be selected for case submission. The case submission is your opportunity to fully explore all points you outlined in your abstract.

  1. Case submissions will be a minimum of 15 pages with no maximum
    Although there is no maximum, teams are cautioned to use their good judgement. Should questions arise, please contact Donovan Woods.
  2. Case submissions should have a cover page (this does not count against your page count) that (at a minimum) lists the title, university name and team members first and last names in alphabetical order by last name
  3. Case submission titles should match the associated abstract
  4. Case submissions may contain appropriate artwork, charts and graphs
  5. Case submissions are due to Donovan Woods, by Monday, November 21, 2016 at 9PM EST.
  6. Team captains will be notified by e-mail whether their team has or has not been invited to round three of the competition on Monday, December 12, 2016 after 3PM EST. In addition, up to three teams will be notified of their selection as Honorable Mentions, which will result in their submission being printed in the official Fuels Institute publication.
  7. Format all case submissions with the following page layout:
    • 1' margins
    • 12-point font, Arial
    • Double-spaced
    • Single-sided print

Round Three

At the expense of the Fuels Institute, three teams will be flown out to Denver, Colorado for the Fuels Institute Annual Meeting. During this meeting, the teams will present their findings to a group of approximately 100 of the most influential individuals in the fuels and vehicles industries. The specific criteria used in Round Three scoring will be shared with the final three teams at the time of their selection.

  1. Only three students per team will be brought to Denver, CO
  2. The team captains of each team must be one of the student’s presenting at the meeting
  3. Students must be dressed in business attire
  4. Name tags will be provided and should be worn throughout the competition
  5. All team members must speak during the presentation
  6. Note cards are allowed to be used during the presentation
  7. The time limit for the presentation is 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes of Q&A by the audience
    • Time limits will be enforced
    • Teams may show new slides during the Q&A should they be relevant to the question asked
    • It is not necessary for all team members to participate in the Q&A
  8. Handouts are allowed; however, please confirm the number you will need to bring with you by contacting Donovan Woods
  9. All presentations must be saved in Microsoft PowerPoint and sent to Donovan Woods by Monday, May 1, 2017
  10. After May 1, 2017, all presentations are final and no alterations to the slides will be allowed so that no team gets extra time to work on their presentation
  11. A wireless presentation remote (clicker) will be provided to each team
  12. There are no guidelines for the presentation format in terms of specific presentation material, number of slides, what areas should be covered in the presentation, etc.
  13. Students are encouraged to bring a backup copy of their presentations on a USB drive
  14. Graphics and sound effects are allowed in the presentation
  15. Presentations will be in alphabetical order of the university name
    • In the event of two teams from the same school, presentations will be in alphabetical order of the last name of the team captain
  16. All teams will be permitted to watch each presentation


Any points of clarification or suggestions should be discussed directly with Donovan Woods. Team captains must submit their questions and Donovan Woods will follow up directly with the team captain. All responses will be shared with all participating teams in each round while not indicating where the question originated. This will keep a level playing field between all teams.

The three teams that reach the presentation stage will be given an opportunity to set up a scheduled conference call with the Fuels Institute Executive Director, John Eichberger. The purpose of the call will be for each team to have an opportunity to be privately coached on public speaking, gain more insight into the audience they will facing in Denver and receive guidance pertaining to specific areas of their submission that might benefit from additional evaluation.

Case Evaluation

The competition shall be judged in a fair and open manner so that all teams know how they are being evaluated. The specific criteria used in Round Three scoring will be shared with the final three teams at the time of the selection.

Abstract Submission Scoring

All abstracts will be read and scored by a panel of 15 judges from the following companies: Casey’s General Stores, Fiat Chrysler Automotive, Fuels Institute, National Association of Convenience Stores, Nissan North America, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oil Price Information Service, Rickers, RINAlliance and Toyota North America. Abstracts will be judged on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest rating a segment can receive) on the following weighted scale:

  1. Originality – 25%
  2. Plausibility – 35%
  3. Thought Provoking – 30%
  4. Overall Presentation – 10%

Case Submission Scoring

All case submissions will be read and scored by the same 15 judges that reviewed all abstract submissions.

Case submissions will be read and judged based on the following weighted scale

  1. Skill demonstrated in analyzing the case – 30%
    • Responds to all pertinent questions
    • Clearly identifies the problem being addressed
    • Uses key assumptions appropriately
  2. Ability to defend strategy – 45%
    • Presents strategies that are both logical and appropriate for all key stakeholders
    • Demonstrates reasonableness of position and situational considerations
    • Uses logic and demonstrates a firm understanding of the topic
    • Uses current best practices and research on the fuel of choice and infrastructure limitations
    • Displays clear answers to the (financial) return on investment for all key stakeholders
  3. Use of historical data and examples – 15%
    • Utilizes historical data and best practices to build framework of proposal
    • Identifies lessons learned
  4. Overall quality of the submission – 10%
    • Communicates position in a clear, organized manner


William Chernicoff
PhD, Manager-Energy & Environmental Research
Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Matthew Forman
Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs

Deb Grimes
Vice President of Fuel Procurement & Delivery
Casey’s General Stores, Inc.

Caley Johnson
Transportation Market Analyst
National Renewable Energy Lab

Tom Kloza
Global Head of Energy Analysis
Oil Price Information Service

Kristi Moriarty
Senior Analyst
National Renewable Energy Lab

Caroline Quat
Political Engagement Manager

Derek Regal
Senior Manager-Fuels & Regulatory Issues
Tesoro Corporation

Jay Ricker

Patricia Strabbing
Senior Manager
Federal Legislative & Regulatory Policy, FCA USA

Norman Turiano
Turiano Strategic Consulting LLC

Donovan Woods
Director, Operations
Fuels Institute


Three finalist teams will be flown out to Denver, Colorado to present their submission to approximately 100 industry executives from a diverse group of fuels and vehicles stakeholders (flight, transfers to and from airport and two-night’s stay at the Curtis hotel will be paid for by the Fuels Institute).

In addition, the following will apply –

  1. 1st Place winner - $5,000
  2. 2nd Place winner - $2,500
  3. 3rd Place winner - $1,000
  4. All participants from the three finalists will have an opportunity to interview for summer internships with the Fuels Institute, Nissan North America, Phillips 66 and Tesoro Corporation
  5. The three finalist and three runner-up teams will have their final submissions published by the Fuels Institute.

Past Competitions

2016 Winner: UC Berkeley

2015 Winner: University of Wisconsin

Past Participating Universities

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Clemson University
  • Colorado University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Morgan State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Old Dominion University
  • Ohio State University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Texas at Dallas
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington University in St Louis

To answer any questions, please contact Donovan Woods, Director, Fuels Institute.