To get students more involved in a professional IMA? (Institute of Management Accountants) chapter, sometimes you need to think like them ? and learn what inspires them.

That?s what helped drive an innovative idea by Kim Foreman, CMA, CFM, vice president of professional education for the IMA Rochester Chapter. Her idea? A ?pop-up? student case competition.

She explains: ?For the past few years, we?ve held a student case competition, which attracted students from nearby RIT [Rochester Institute of Technology], SUNY Brockport, and Roberts Wesleyan College. We sent out materials ahead of time and asked students to do assignments in advance. What we found was that our number of participants was dwindling ? students have so many demands on their schedules, and they just couldn?t find the time to devote to one more project.?

Foreman?s idea was simple: Hold a case competition that would require no advance preparation by the students. All the students needed to do was show up (they did have to RSVP to the event), and all the work could be done during the time allotted.

To find a case to use, Foreman first looked on the IMA website. When she couldn?t find a case that she thought students could analyze in about an hour, she decided to write one herself (she?s an adjunct professor at RIT, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate-level managerial accounting courses).

The case she wrote, ?The Perils of Praline: A Sweet Deal or Sticky Trap?? details the fictitious story of Dee?s Dandy Candies, a Midwestern company founded in 1936 that is trying to decide if it should introduce a new product line. For the case competition, students had to complete a variety of tasks, including performing a SWOT and a transfer price analysis.

The event included more than just the case competition: Fortunately, the Rochester Chapter had received an IMA Memorial Education Fund grant, and so the event, held on a Thursday night from 5:30 to 8 p.m., featured dinner and was free to students. Professional members in attendance paid just $10 and received 1.5 CPE credits.

According to Foreman, the event was a resounding success. About 25 students attended, and they were divided into four teams after they arrived. After a lively and engaging competition, members of the winning team each received a one-year IMA student membership, along with a $50 Amazon gift card (second- and third-place winners also received Amazon gift cards).

The chapter is already making plans to continue the event next year. Of lessons learned, Foreman said that she?d like to have at least one professional member at each group?s table ? ?they just can?t give the students the answers!? she notes.

For more information on the IMA Rochester Chapter, please visit this link.