Students provide free consulting services

Economics graduate student Adarsha Piya and computer science senior Santhosh Paramasivan shake hands during a 180 Degrees Consulting meeting. Photo by Pavan Tauh | Mercury Staff.

UTD’s new chapter of an international consultancy group is working alongside Dallas nonprofit organizations to provide pro bono advice.

Mechanical engineering junior Logan Harless first learned about 180 Degrees Consulting — an organization that works globally as a university-based consulting service — while studying abroad in 2018 in Australia. He brought the idea back to Dallas, and UTD’s chapter was integrated into the larger organization in January. As the chapter president, Harless oversees two project teams: one working with Camp Kesem, an organization providing year-round services for children whose parents are living with cancer, and another partnering with sustainability education conference EarthX.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing the impact we can have on the Dallas community and the network we can build,” Harless said. “We want to connect students and (not-for-profit) partners who are passionate about social impact so they can help each other maximize their potential.”

Physics junior Benny Rubanov, the consulting director for 180DC at UTD, said his long-term goal includes giving back to Dallas as well as building a presence for professional consulting on campus.

“180DC has a real chance to be one of these premier organizations on campus because it does have a meaningful impact, and at the same time, you’re increasing the profile of the consulting bloc at UTD,” Rubanov said. “You start bringing better people into the organization and because they’re vetted and organized into this strong team creating really cool projects, we start to attract the attention of industry professionals.”

Both Rubanov and Harless plan to pursue professional consulting after graduation. Harless said he sees this organization as a training ground for both people interested in consulting and for those exploring the possibility.

“I also enjoy working with nonprofit organizations,” he said. “180DC combined these interests in the best possible way.”

More than 50 students applied to join 180DC’s nine-person project team. Harless said he wanted creative, personable members with strong communication and diverse skill sets, as well as for those nine students to have majors ranging from biology to computer science to finance. The team working with EarthX is developing marketing strategies, while the second team, partnering with Camp Kesem, is focused on fundraising for an increased sponsorship goal of 50%.

180DC is the world’s largest university-based consultancy, with approximately 2,500 completed consulting projects throughout 30 countries. UTD’s chapter is one of more than 100 global branches.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing how much help we can give them even with a semester-long project,” Harless said. “It’s crazy to see how much impact we can actually make.”

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