The ongoing clean water crisis in Flint, Mich., has put the spotlight on the nation’s water woes and the dire need for a system-wide solution.

With an impressive proposal to improve America’s aging water infrastructure, three Wharton MBAs took home the $5,000 top prize in Penn Wharton PPI’s Public Policy Case Competition earlier this year.

But the winning policy proposal earned Aroon Vijaykar, WG’18, Alex Bolano, WG’17, and Michael Weigley, WG’16, something even more valuable — an invitation to present their ideas to policymakers at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The idea to bring the winning team to Treasury was the brainchild of Benjamin Levine, W’10. A policy analyst for the Treasury at the time, Levine had participated in an inter-agency working group commissioned to help formulate infrastructure policy and saw a perfect opportunity to bring fresh ideas to the group.

(From left) Aroon Vijaykar with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and teammates Michael Weigley and Alex Bolano at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The trip to the Treasury “elevated our Case Competition experience from an academic exercise to an exciting discussion of the feasibility of our proposal in the real world, with the very people that have the power to make it happen,” Vijaykar said.

With previous experience related to utilities and infrastructure, the students approached the issue from multiple perspectives — engineering, finance, and management.

Their winning policy analysis presented an operating and funding model to create a Water Innovation Center within the Department of the Interior that would streamline the financing, development, testing, and rollout of new water system technologies.

Get the full scoop on their plan and their exciting trip to Washington D.C. at Inside Penn Wharton PPI.

Colleen Mullarkey

Posted: March 15, 2016

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