Student teams compete, local business wins

By Tim Lilley

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, sixth-grade students in teacher Becky Humm’s High Ability Math Program at St. John the Baptist School in Newburgh have been conducting research in several areas as part of a project to assist Koch Air LLC, of Evansville, in its effort to identify the best location for a new facility in the Indianapolis region.

On May 16, the students, who had formed two teams — the Awesome Analysts and the Mathematical Marketers — presented their findings to Koch Air managers during a morning meeting at the company’s headquarters.

Although the project involved friendly competition, Koch Air came out the winner; and neither team lost.

Glen Muehlbauer, right, vice-president of human resources for Koch Air LLC in Evansville, thanks sixth-grade high-ability math students from St. John the Baptist School for their great work in researching options for a new Koch Air location in the Indianapolis region. Split into two teams — the Awesome Analysts and the Mathematical Marketers — the students worked throughout the school year on this project, which culminated in their May 16 presentations at Koch Air headquarters.

Humm told The Message, “I’m so proud of these kids! They learned so much about business operations and finances, as well as teamwork and all the different considerations for making a big decision. I’m also so thankful for our partnership with Koch! I look forward to future projects like this with Koch and other businesses in our community.”

Humm also thanked St. John the Baptist principal Elizabeth Flatt and teacher Maria Janney, the school’s High Ability Coordinator, for their assistance and support.

The Awesome Analysts included Riley Davis, Luke Delancey, Brayden Dill, Caroline Kenworthy and Sarah Milewicz. The Mathematical Marketers included Andrew Barfield, Lukas Ellison, Matthew Fisher, Makenzie Orange, Abby Price and Matthew Titzer.

Each team provided a detailed report on the demographic, infrastructure, financial and marketing research that helped it develop a location recommendation. The Awesome Analysts recommended Carmel, Indiana, on the near north side of Indianapolis; the Mathematical Marketers recommended that Koch pick a location in Tippecanoe County, northwest of Indianapolis near Lafayette.

Each team also included a catchy marketing slogan for the company’s consideration. From the Awesome Analysts: “Our prices are fair, and you know where; so come on down to the Carmel Koch Air.” From the Mathematical Marketers: “For excellent care, turn to Koch Air.”

The teams included financial projections involving the investments necessary to get new facilities up and running in each location, and they also included projections of initial income and profit.

Following each presentation, Koch Air Managers — among them several who had mentored the students along the way — asked questions about their conclusions and the specific reasons they settled on each location. Koch Industries Chariman Robert Koch and Vice-Chairman Jim Muehlbauer also attended the presentations and asked questions of each team.

Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daryl Hagan also attended. Afterward, he said, “Catholic schools align with the State Board of Education in our commitment to provide students with a broad awareness of, and engagement with, individual career interests and
associated career options. This experience is a perfect example of how to engage students.”

Glen Muehlbauer, vice-president of human resources for Koch Air, provided each student with a gift in gratitude for the hard work they put in on the project over the course of several months. As part of their research, the students toured Koch facilities and talked to employees to learn about operations.