Albion College Students Develop Military Resource Management App with Black & Rossi in Experiential Learning Lab

November 21, 2023

The students pose with the Black & Rossi team.

Back row: Col. Bill Black '82, Ethan Sutton '17, Chris Stoddard, Owen Poling '25, Joseph Dorsch '25, Paige Irrer '23, Mackie Black '19. Front row: Aminaa Injinash '24, Vicki Baker, Trang "Chloe" Tran '25, Lauren Hall '23.

Six students stand at the front of a classroom presenting their project to an audience.

Six students from the AC3 team present an overview of the process of developing the tool, potential applications and proposed next steps to Black & Rossi executives, campus, community partners and local representative Paul Egnatuk, legislative aide to Rep. Jim Haadsma.

Chloe points to the screen, which shows a map with points on it.

Chloe Tran '25 walks attendees through a visual of the app with markers near available resources

Ethan gestures towards the students as he asks his question.

Ethan Sutton '17 of the Black & Rossi team poses a question for the students.

Bill is sitting at a desk, intently watching the presentation.

Col. Bill Black ’82 asked the students questions as he watched the presentation.

A team of Albion College students have developed a web application designed to assist with military resource management through a project partnership between Black & Rossi, LLC and the Albion College Community Collaborative, or AC3.

Spearheaded by Faculty Director Dr. Vicki Baker, AC3 is an experiential learning laboratory designed to allow students to translate ideas into action with real-life clients and real-life problems. AC3 was engaged by Texas-based defense consulting firm Black & Rossi to assist in the development of a proof-of-concept tool for locating commercially available resources, such as food, water and fuel, that military leaders could use when their own supply chains are interrupted.

During summer and fall semesters, six students from diverse academic disciplines developed a web app that utilizes publicly available vendor data, vendor capacity estimates, geographic location data, user input and more to provide a user with an optimal route to resources given their current location.

The students provided a demonstration of the tool on Monday, Nov. 20 to Black & Rossi team members, Albion College faculty, staff, trustees, alumni board members, community partners and local representative Paul Egnatuk, legislative aide to Rep. Jim Haadsma. The presentation included an overview of the process of developing the tool, potential applications and proposed next steps.

“This concept is totally in sync in what’s going on in the real world,” said Col. Bill Black ’82, the founder and CEO of Black & Rossi and a retired member of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve. “If you fall short on resources in the field, you have to forage for them. Having a tool that will help you quickly find what you need from commercial sources is very useful. This work is a part of Team JEDI, which Black & Rossi has partnered with NEXUS LCM for this important effort.

“This is a situation where the classroom meets reality, so we hold students to high expectations and treat them as true consultants. The students in AC3 are all highly motivated overachievers — it’s in their DNA. They are really sharp and engaged, which leads to great results for us.”

Black & Rossi first partnered with AC3 on defense logistics research in 2022. It was one of AC3’s first national clients with close ties to the college — and the first contracted client who went beyond student credit and paid students to do the work, in addition to covering other project expenses. The firm has decided to extend its support for a third year.

The AC3 team for the Black & Rossi project included students with majors spanning from economics and computer science to marketing communications and industrial engineering. Forming interdisciplinary teams is an intentional approach of the AC3 program.

“AC3 is the quintessential experiential learning experience we are proud to offer at Albion College,” Baker said. “We take on projects that require an interdisciplinary group of students to address problems for which there are no present solutions. A mix of students in different academic stages and career interests is about as real world as you’re going to get in a college setting.

“Once we have a team, we create a consulting structure and then it’s up to the students to work with the client. Throughout the experience, students are building important communication and analytic skills that employers are looking for — these are hallmarks of what we do at Albion College.”

Ethan Sutton ’17, senior analyst with Black & Rossi, worked closely with the project both years and has found students are more apt to consider pathways that seasoned professionals may overlook.

“In this field, there are consultants that simply stick to what they know,” Sutton explained. “The fact that these students are pre-professionals means they don’t have a preconceived notion of what’s going to work, so they’re open to trying everything.

“That blank slate allows for greater creativity in how they approach problems and explore solutions. Along the way, they gain valuable experience with real-life project management and are able to refine their consulting skills.”

Equally high praise comes from Baker, who noted: “These students are the best of who we are at Albion College. This was an ambitious project for undergrad students to tackle, and they nailed it.”

The students — Joseph Dorsch ’25, Lauren Hall ’23 (December), Aminaa Injinash ’24, Paige Irrer ’23 (December), Owen Poling ’25 and Chloe Tran ’25 — all spoke positively of the experience.

“It was a pleasure working with Black&Rossi on this project,” Dorsch said. “It has allowed me to branch out and explore different avenues of consulting I hadn’t considered before. This experience has been incredibly helpful to figuring out what I want to do with my career.”

Injinash noted AC3 is particularly impactful for international students, who must obtain Curricular Practical Training, or CPT, authorization in order to participate in an off-campus internship.

“As international students, we face the challenge of finding an internship experience that covers CPT,” Injinash said. “Having this experience through the College allowed us to get exposed to the corporate world and gain team-based and technical skills we could add to our resumes. It’s a great opportunity here at Albion, and I’m really thankful to everyone who contributed to this project and made this experience possible.”

As proud alumni of Albion College, Black and Sutton became engaged with AC3 as a way to give back to their alma mater in a more meaningful way than writing a check. Following the students’ presentation, Black & Rossi made the decision to extend its support for a third year.

“This is a different way to give back to our alma mater that is incredibly rewarding,” Black said. “And we’re not a massive company — anyone can do this, especially with Vicki’s leadership. She does an amazing job selecting and guiding students through this experience. I would highly encourage other alumni to partner with AC3.”

Baker added that the power of partnerships is epitomized by AC3’s relationship with Black & Rossi.

“We’ve deeply enjoyed working with Bill and Ethan,” Baker said. “They are an Albion College legacy family who want Albion talent, and they are willing to work with us to help students shine. We wouldn’t be able to provide these unique experiential learning opportunities without partners like Black & Rossi.”

AC3 is a program funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. More information is available at