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January 22, 2004
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Think outside the room

Paul Anderson (L) talks about his vehicle monitoring system with commerce student Curtis Mercer.
Paul Anderson (L) talks about his vehicle monitoring system with commerce student Curtis Mercer.

By Aimee Sheppard
Last semester Curtis Mercer, a bachelor of commerce co-op student, was encouraged to think outside the room. In her undergraduate business communications course, instructor Lynn Morrissey encourages students to work with local businesses on various communications projects. Seven of Ms. Morrissey’s students, including Mr. Mercer, volunteered their time and expertise to work with Genesis Centre clients on a range of business planning materials.

Mr. Mercer helped Paul Anderson, principal at Blue Ocean Satellite Systems Inc., prepare a market research report. Blue Ocean is developing a multipurpose vessel monitoring system (VMS), a device similar to an airplane’s black box but designed specifically for the marine vessel industry. VMS devices are becoming a requirement in North America and Blue Ocean plans to offer mariners an extra-value VMS product that features satellite-based communications.

“I visited with more than 30 crab fishermen in the Port de Grave area to find out what they thought about Blue Ocean’s technology,” said Mr. Mercer. “I asked them questions about what capabilities they would like in a VMS and learned about the technology they currently have on board.

“I think I learned more by working with Blue Ocean than if I just researched a general topic. This way I have worked on something useful and not something that will just sit on a shelf in my room.”

Instead of occupying space in Mr. Mercer’s room, the report is being used to help make business decisions.

“Working with Curtis gave Blue Ocean an opportunity to conduct extended research which otherwise we would have had to do without,” said Mr. Anderson. “As a small company, we are limited by the amount of market research we can do. We definitely benefited by participating in this project with students from the business faculty.”

“The students who participated took their responsibilities very seriously and were eager participants,” said Ms. Morrissey. “I am always looking for new opportunities to provide my students with meaningful and valuable learning experiences and I have already arranged to offer the option again this semester.”

“I think this type of project is great,” said Mr. Mercer. “I definitely think that working with a company helps you put what you learn in the classroom into perspective.”


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Next issue: February 5, 2003

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