Top Stories: December 2 Campus Connections

From left are students Jason Moody (SMCC), Arianna Burns (SMCC), Jacob Dostal (USM), Amie O’Hara (USM), Dana Schauf (SMCC) and Allison Pickering (USM).

Hospitality students put to the test in New York City

Hospitality Management students were put to the test at one of the lodging industry’s largest trade shows where they participated in a market study competition against students from other colleges and universities from around the world.

SMCC students Arianna Burns, Jason Moody and Dana Schauf joined three Tourism and Hospitality students from the University of Southern Maine for a trip to HX: The Hotel Experience, held in November at the Javits Center in New York City. They were led by SMCC Hospitality Chair Maureen LaSalle and Sara Ghezzi, who teaches Tourism & Hospitality at USM.

The annual tradeshow draws thousands of hospitality professionals from across North America. While there, the SMCC-USM team took part in the STR (Smith Travel Research) Student Market Study Competition that featured 37 teams, 12 graduate and 25 undergraduate, from 32 colleges and universities.

For the event, each team selected a geographic market to research and analyze in the months leading up to the conference. The SMCC-USM team presented a market analysis of the city of Denver. In the end, Michigan State University took top honors in the undergraduate division.

“Watching the other teams’ presentations was interesting because it gave me a perspective on how different areas of the world view hospitality and what makes each of them unique in what they offer,” said Moody. “Working with Maureen and my classmates on the Denver market study was a great learning experience because it helped me understand what details are important when describing any market or hotel in the hospitality industry.”

LaSalle said the students held their own against schools where the market study in many cases was part of a class curriculum. In contrast, the SMCC and USM students produced the study outside of class as an extracurricular activity.

“We went up against some of the top hospitality programs in the country,” LaSalle said. “We are so proud of what our students did.”

Arianna Burns said the competition allowed her to make lifelong connections and friendships with other members of the team while also learning about the latest hospitality innovations and key trends in the industry.

“The HX Hotel Experience show was massive. There were vendors advertising everything from handbag holders to showers and it was very eye-opening into how much goes into the hospitality industry,” she said. “I definitely feel as if I’m pursuing a career in the right major.”

The entire experience was a great learning opportunity, Schauf said.

“While we did not make it to the second round, it was a great collaborative experience that culminated in being given an opportunity to attend breakout sessions and an industry trade show in NYC,” she said. “Win-win, all around.”


Precision Machining students tour Pratt & Whitney

SMCC Precision Machining students have been getting up-close looks and learning about career opportunities at a globally known aerospace manufacturing plant in Maine.

Three groups of students toured the Pratt & Whitney plant in North Berwick in recent weeks to see how the company manufactures modules and components for aircraft engines. Pratt & Whitney, which is based in Connecticut, has multiple plants nationwide and is a global leader in the manufacture of engines for military and commercial aircraft.

Pratt & Whitney’s North Berwick operation is among the largest private employers in Maine and, with more than 1 million square feet, the largest manufacturing facility in the state of Maine under one roof.

“Students get to see a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant with state-of-the-art machinery,” said John Bolduc, chair of the Precision Machining Department. “This is a world-class facility.”

Pratt & Whitney routinely offers jobs to SMCC students and graduates, and provides scholarship money for Precision Machining students. Earlier this semester, the company visited the South Portland Campus for a recruiting presentation.