“We were in Bastin Hall, and we had the big board,” said Montray Robinson, ’22, president of The Citadel chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. “We wrote on it for 12 hours!”
The 12-hour weekend brainstorming session occurred during Ideathon, a logistics competition that promotes problem solving in real-world scenarios. Robinson and another cadet engineer had teamed up with two business majors to represent The Citadel. Their challenge was to figure out how to decarbonize oil production most efficiently. Their solution had to fit within a given set of constraints and a logistics chart.
“We shared all parts of the project,” said Robinson. “If one of us had a stronger sense behind one thing, we would pick it up.”
One of Robinson’s duties was to verify each component for content and accuracy. “We all sat there with our legs crossed, looking at the board, thinking, figuring out the math,” he said.
“We shared all parts of the project.”
Eventually, the team needed to step away from the problem altogether. “We took a break to get some Chinese food. Then, the solution hit all of us almost at the same time… We didn’t get back to the barracks until 1:00 a.m.”
Freshly inspired, the team returned to the drawing board to make sure their solution would fit within the budget. “Our goal was to come in at less than $8 million. In oil costs, we hit around $6 million, which was the best we could have done. The other teams did a little more than $8 million. I think that’s what gave us the edge.”
The two-day competition culminated in Grimsley Hall with a multimedia presentation by each team. “The Citadel has definitely taught me how to be strict about time management and how to take care of high-stake situations,” Robinson said. “The experience was worth the effort. I wouldn’t want to have done it any other way.”