Profile on Bharanidharan Rajakumar for CMU Today
Bharanidharan Rajakumar feels his stomach lurch as he checks the clock. He and his teammates have only 20 minutes left in the business school competition to "cross the chasm" and come up with solutions. His head pounds from all of the caffeine, and he can hear another team debating through the thin walls in the Hult Business School in Boston.
Rajakumar and his four teammates have been in a small white-washed room for what seems like days. The students try to zone out the noise and focus on the case challenge-how to strengthen the programs of the One Laptop per Child association, whose mission is to put a laptop with content and software in the hands of every child, including the world's poorest children.
Tension is high, time is running out, and the competitors are formidable. After all, they are up against 26 of the top business schools in the United States. In this competition, the 2010 Global Case Challenge, teams are being evaluated on their development and presentation of a social entrepreneurial real-world, real-time solution for OLPC. This is one of four international competitions-the others taking place in London, Dubai, and Shanghai. The winners of the four competitions will meet in the finals.
The Carnegie Mellon team is composed of Biological Sciences PhD candidate Ayshwarya Subramanian from the Mellon College of Science and four Tepper MBA students: Rajakumar, Logan Powell, Sandy Parakilas, and Rekha Bhatt. The team members come from varying undergraduate backgrounds, including the sciences, architecture, performing arts, and business. As the minutes count down until their final presentation, some voices are raised, but they press on and finish. The highlight of their proposal includes implementing an app store model where students could download educational applications created by local educators. All of them are more than satisfied and attribute their undergraduate diversity and professional work experience to the plan's thoroughness.
After the first round of presentations, three teams, including Carnegie Mellon, are chosen to present in front of the entire participating audience. For Rajakumar, "It's really magical; it's like being in a stage play."
After that presentation, a winner is announced. The Carnegie Mellon team is victorious and will move on to the international case challenge. The teammates exclaim to each other: They beat Harvard! They beat Penn! They also beat 23 other schools as well. "That was a great feeling," says Rajakumar. The team has no idea that there would be more shouts of joy. They would go on to win the entire Global Case Challenge, beating the winning teams from the London, Shanghai, and Dubai regionals.
-Molly McCurdy (A'10)