Three graduate students were honored for the consulting work they performed at Orlando-based Merit Fasteners Corporation (MFC). Halil Bozkurt, Artyom Manukyan and Ted Spero placed second in the Graduate Specialized Category of the 2012 Project of the Year Awards sponsored by the Small Business Institute® (SBI®), the premier professional association of small business / entrepreneurship educators and researchers involved in student analysis projects. Working closely with Donna Best, President of Merit Fasteners, and her management team, the students analyzed three areas of MFC’s business: sales, marketing and e-commerce; inventory management; and purchasing, financial analysis and cash flow. Under the guidance of their UCF SBI® program instructor, Lloyd Fernald, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus in the College of Business Administration, the student team conducted extensive customer research to determine industry best practices; met weekly to understand company processes and procedures; and performed wide-ranging analysis of business and industry strategies and performance. As a result of their efforts, the students were able to provide cost-effective and simple short-term recommendations that were mutually agreed to by Merit Fastener and implemented in real time almost immediately by the company. In addition, the students offered a long-term strategic analysis and set of recommendations. At the conclusion of the consulting engagement, the student team evaluated the quantitative and qualitative effectiveness of the recommendations implemented by Merit Fastener. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UCF in conjunction with the College of Business Administration manages the SBI® program locally. SBI® is a nationwide program that provides high-quality business assistance to companies in need while providing an extraordinary opportunity for university students to learn through field case studies. SBI® is a graduate-level elective course within the College of Business Administration. Students enrolled in the class provide management consulting services to local small businesses. Each student team has direct contact with the client and produces a professional case report. Visit the SBDC website to learn more about their programs and services.