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2018 University Case Competition

Fuel Retailing in 2040

The Official 2018 Rule Book (PDF) can be found here.

We are hosting our 4th annual University Case Competition next spring. 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 submitting abstracts must include a professional resume for each team member to be eligible to proceed to the next stage. Students selected to continue to the later rounds of the competition may have an opportunity to interview for internships at andeavor, Electrify America, Petroleum Equipment Institute and Sunoco. (Note: Other internship opportunities may be added during the course of the competition.) In addition, finalists will be flown to Chicago, IL, May 22-24, 2018, to present to industry executives for final judging at the FUELS2018. There they will compete for cash prizes and enjoy networking opportunities.

The Case: Through the lens of a fuel retailer, establish a timeline of the evolution of the light-duty vehicle fueling infrastructure in the United States through 2040. 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 Chicago for FUELS 2018 to present your findings – teams will need to determine among 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

The abstract submission is a detailed outline of your theme and how you plan to prove your theory in a full submission. The deadline for submission is Friday, October 13, 2017.

  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, team member names and emails sorted alphabetically 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. 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 13, 2017, at 11:59 pm EST.
  8. Judges will select 25 submissions from a pool of abstracts to be invited to Round Two. 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 20, 2017, after 3:00 pm EST.
  9. Format all abstracts with the following page layout:
    • 1" margins
    • 12-point font, Arial
    • Double-spaced
    • Single-sided print

Round Two

The case submission is your opportunity to fully explore all points you outlined in your abstract. The deadline for submission is Friday, December 15, 2017.

  1. Case submissions will be a minimum of 12 pages and a maximum of 15.
  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, team member names and emails sorted alphabetically 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 Friday, December 15, 2017, by 11:59 pm EST.
  6. Judges will select three teams from a pool of 25 case submissions to be invited to Round Three. 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, January 15, 2018, after 3:00 pm 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 to the FUELS2018 annual meeting in Chicago, IL. During this meeting, the teams will present their findings to a group of approximately 100 of the most influential individuals in the transportation industry. The specific criteria used in Round Three scoring will be shared with the final three teams at the time of their selection. Final submissions are due on Tuesday, May 2, 2018.

  1. Only three students per team will be brought to FUELS2018.
  2. The team captains of each team must be one of the students 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 Tuesday, May 2, 2018. There will be no additional changes allowed beyond Tuesday, May 16, 2018.
  10. After May 2, 2018, all presentations are final and no alterations to the slides will be allowed so that no team receives 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 by 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 captains.
  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 two conference calls with John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute. The purpose of each call will be for each team to be privately coached on public speaking, gain more insight into the audience they will be facing at the conference 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 fi¬nal three teams at the time of the selection.

Abstract Submission Scoring

All abstracts will be read and scored by a panel of judges from various sectors of the transportation industry.

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

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

  1. Skill in analyzing the case – 40%
    • Responds to all pertinent questions
    • Clearly identifies the problem being addressed
    • Uses key assumptions appropriately
  2. Ability to defend strategy – 40%
    • 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
  3. Overall quality of the submission – 20%
    • Communicates position in a clear, organized manner


Karl Fails
Executive Vice President (Commercial)
Sunoco LP

Mary Fay
Georgetown University (2017 Case Competition Winner)

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

Jana West-Heiss
American Lung Association

Eleanor Johnstone
Duke University (2016 Case Competition Runner Up)

Tom Kloza
Global Head of Energy Analysis
Oil Price Information Service

Rick Long
Executive Vice President
Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI)

Dave Loos
Market Development Director
Illinois Corn Growers Association

Kristi Moriarty
Senior Engineer
National Renewable Energy Lab

Derek Regal
Senior Manager-Fuels & Regulatory Issues
Tesoro Corporation

Bradley Schad
Director of Market Development
Missouri Corn Growers Association

Sophia Shulman
Manager of Charging Infrastructure Partnerships

Jesse Spodak
Georgetown University (2017 Case Competition Winner)

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 to Chicago, IL to present their submission to approximately 100 industry executives at FUELS2018 (flight, transfers to and from airport and a two night stay at the event hotel will be paid for by the Fuels Insti¬tute).

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. 4th – 6th Place winners - $500 each
  5. The three finalist teams will each receive approximately $1,200 each for their student-run energy/transportation clubs.
  6. The three finalists and three runner-up teams will have their final submissions published by the Fuels Institute.
  7. All participants who submit abstracts will have their resumes presented to our sponsors for an opportunity to interview for summer internships.

Past Competitions

2017 First Place Team: Georgetown University

2016 First Place Team: University of California Berkeley

2015 First Place Team: University of Wisconsin

Past Participating Universities

  • Binghamton University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Clemson University
  • Colorado University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Creighton University
  • Duke University
  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Moorehouse University
  • Morgan State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Old Dominion University
  • Ohio State University
  • Perdue University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Texas at Dallas
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Utah
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington University in St Louis

About National Corn Growers Association

Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents more than 40,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide and the interests of more than 300,000 growers who contribute through corn checkoff programs in their states. NCGA and its 49 affiliated state organizations work together to create and increase opportunities for corn growers. NCGA's vision is to sustainably feed and fuel a growing world.

In 2016, corn farmers grew 15.1 billion bushels of field corn. More than 25 percent (4.2 billion bushels) of that is used directly for ethanol production. Nearly every gallon of U.S. gasoline today contains at least 10 percent fuel ethanol (or E10). Inclusion of ethanol in gasoline allows for a higher octane lower carbon fuel. Higher blends such as E15 & E85 are available at over 4,000 stations nationwide. Nearly 90 percent of cars and light trucks on the road today are approved to use blends up to E15. Ethanol is environmentally friendly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent compared to gasoline. Ethanol reduces our country's dependence on foreign oil, improves national security, and spurs economic growth, especially in rural America.

NCGA believes ethanol is the most viable alternative fuel strategy moving forward.

To learn more about NCGA and the ethanol industry, visit http://ncga.com/topics/ethanol/e15-resources.