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MBA students examine solar farm project in Alberta

Sep 7, 2023

MBA Showcase Winning Team

Leading Critical Issues Case Competition winning team L-R: Pranav Rao, Saimum Hossain, Teodora Ivanovic, Arian Shahrizad, Spencer Robb, Renee Hueston

MBA students received a crash course in solar photovoltaic technology this week before diving into the 2023 Leading Critical Issues Case Competition. The three-day case event, which ran September 5-7, prepared students to become sustainable leaders and address the critical issues facing business and society.  

Ivey’s Joshua Pearce, Professor in Entrepreneurship and Sustainability and the John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation, kicked off the event with an introduction to photovoltaic systems, which convert light energy into electricity, and agrivoltaics, the simultaneous use of land for both solar panels and agriculture.

“We’ve got some real-world problems that need to be solved,” said Pearce, who is cross-appointed with Ivey and Western’s department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “If we’re going to take solutions that myself and other engineers have come up with and actually scale them, we need the business community to do that and we need to make sure it’s profitable. That’s where you come in.”

Pearce was joined by PhD student Uzair Jamil, the agrivoltaics lead at Western University's Free Appropriate Sustainability Technology (FAST) Research Group. Jamil walked the students through several studies that showcased the positive effects agrivoltaics had on crop yields around the world, from lettuce in France, to corn in Japan, to peppers in Tucson, Arizona.

Valhalla solar farm project

Students also heard from Claude Mindorff, Director of Development at PACE Canada LP, who introduced them to their challenge, Valhalla, a case study on Viking, Alberta’s solar farm project. PACE Canada LP, which is jointly owned by Pathfinder Clean Energy in the U.K. and Goldbeck Solar, invests in, develops, and manages clean energy community-based projects.

Armed with a base knowledge of agrivoltaics and solar energy, students were asked to provide recommendations to PACE on Valhalla’s project design, where they considered financial, political, and social factors. Working in teams, students analyzed the case and prepared their recommendations. They then presented their recommendations to a panel of faculty, alumni, and guest judges. 

Congratulations to Team 16 for winning the 2023 Leading Critical Issues Case Competition! Team members included:

  • Saimum Hossain
  • Renee Hueston
  • Teodora Ivanovic
  • Pranav Rao
  • Spencer Robb
  • Arian Shahrizad

Thank you to the judges:

Presentation round

Finalist Round

  • Dean Sharon Hodgson
  • Barbara Baker, Managing Director, Citrine Management & Consulting Corp
  • Chris Guillon, MBA ’06, Co-founder and VP Finance, Stormfisher Hydrogen
  • Claude Mindorff, Director of Development, PACE Canada LP
  • Joshua Pearce, John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation at the Thompson Centre for Engineering Leadership & Innovation, Western University