erkeley students won the 4th Annual Haas Tech Challenge: Babar Khan, Tomer Poran, Nate Chang, Amrit Acharya.
Berkeley students won the 4th Annual Haas Tech Challenge. From left to right: Babar Khan, Tomer Poran, Nate Chang, Amrit Acharya.

We have all struggled with finding parking, but MBA students at Berkeley might have found a solution to this common problem. This November, a team from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business won the 2014 Haas Tech Challenge, an annual case competition for MBA teams throughout the country to tackle real-world business challenges. The 4th annual contest run by the Haas Technology Club invited eight groups to create a project proposal relating to the theme “the Internet of Things.” The groups were asked to design tools for co-sponsors Intel Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton and Dell that could help professionals collaborate or easily access information.

Berkeley students Amrit Acharya, Nate Chang, Babar Khan, and Tomer Poran won the $5,000 award for their proposal of a system that helps drivers find available parking spots based on destination and walking preferences. Their proposal included using integrated sensors to make cities measurable by monitoring the flow of traffic, light, pollution and temperature. The information could reduce congestion, help retailers open new outlets and would be available for other developers to create their own applications.

All of the teams used information learned in urban planning and transportation classes to deliver their proposals. “We wanted something visible that maximized what we termed customer delight. We found that drivers seeking parking account for 30% of traffic in San Francisco,” Khan says.

The competition event allowed MBA students to network with industry professionals and students from other universities, such as Northwestern University and UCLA. The winning team is confident that the companies at the competition, or other big players in the industry, will implement their proposal.

“The challenge was a hackathon-like blitz as we worked for 19 hours straight (although it flew by), so the win at the end made it very rewarding. On a personal level, it was a great way to start my journey into tech-management around the Bay Area,” Poran says.