This past spring, students of MSU-Bozeman College of Business Accounting 321 were part of a program that enabled them to gain practical business experience while offering research, consulting and system development services to a local business. Jake Rose, assistant professor of accounting at Montana State University College of Business, taught the course. Most of the course was devoted to working with the business and learning the necessary background material in database design, database construction, process change and system design.

BioScience Laboratories of Bozeman was the company that participated in this program. For many students, this was their first opportunity to work directly with business professionals on real issues. Students learned more than how to design and build information systems. They had to effectively work in cross-functional teams, interact with business professionals, interview staff and owners regularly, and manage a large-scale project for over three months.

At first, the students were anxious about the accountability and lack of clear solutions, Rose said, but their drive and motivation to deliver a quality product came through. In the end, their efforts really paid off.

Two students, Natalie Dachs (Senior, Kalispell) and Michelle Prater, (Senior, Jackson, WY) assumed the roles of project leaders. They coordinated the efforts of all students in the class and developed very strong leadership skills during the semester.

The course required students to learn substantial material on their own, develop many new skills, and devote significant time to out-of-class work. There was no material to memorize, and there were no solution manuals to point students in the right direction. They were required to use the business skills they had acquired at MSU and apply them to solve real problems. Often under pressure and deadlines, the students accepted the challenge and successfully completed the project.

A director at BioScience Laboratories stated, The students were extremely hard working, professional and their ideas were great. We intend to implement their recommendations for a planning system next month. Thank you so much

BioScience Laboratories Inc. is a national laboratory facility that tests topical antimicrobial products for their effectiveness. Their clients include 3M Corporation, Unilever, Xttrium Laboratories, DPT Healthpoint, Bayer Corporation, Colgate-Palmolive Company, and Johnson & Johnson. BioScience Laboratories is currently located in the Medical Arts Center at 300 N Willson St., and the BioScience Corporate Offices are located across the street at 7 East Beall. The firm employs nearly 30 full-time scientists and support staff. BioScience supports the community by purchasing supplies and paying personnel locally, and it pays over $160,000.00 a year to local volunteers who participate in their studies.

Rose added, I was so pleased that we were able to help a local business and the community. The students delivered products that will change the business forever. I believe that the class has made a real difference for BioScience Laboratories. Some of the students were truly amazing, and they learned so much about how businesses truly operate. I hope that the class helped to prepare them for the rapid pace of business and accounting.

Rose will offer the course again spring semester. Currently, the college is taking applications of businesses that may want to take advantage of this service. All types of businesses are encouraged to be part of this class. Local businesses with an interest in the consulting and system development services of MSU s accounting students should call Jake Rose at 406-994-6198 or send an email to