Wabash Set to Host OLAB Program

by Jim Amidon

July 9, 2004

Game Master Greg Shaheen introduces 2004 Labbies to the fundamentals of production.


Fifty rising high school seniors will spend a week on the Wabash campus learning all about business in the 2004 edition of the Opportunities to Learn About Business program OLAB).

The program was started more than 30 years ago by faculty in the Wabash economics and speech departments. It has morphed over the years into its current format of about 50 students spending a week on campus in what amounts to a summer camp of the mind.

Economics professor Bert Barreto spearheads the program with able-bodied help from OLAB veteran Greg Shaheen and English professor Tobey Herzog. The trio gets assistance from a half-dozen counselors and various Wabash faculty and staff, who will put the "Labbies" through a rigorous and stimulating week of discussions, lectures, workshops, and exercises.

The program essentially compresses about a semester’s worth of college business, public relations, and marketing courses into a week. Imagine being 17 years old and thinking you’re going to summer camp, only to realize that you’ll work from 7:30 in the morning until 11 p.m. every day!

The Labbies grow to love the rigor and challenge of the program, especially after they are broken up into teams that become companies that market a product—a hand-held organizer that each company can customize with a range of features, real and imagined. The companies then begin to compete in a business game simulation complete with tough accounting problems; issuing stocks; setting and adjusting pricing to maximize profits; developing marketing and advertising campaigns; and the toughest of all challenges, a real labor negotiation.


Forty-six high school seniors are attending OLAB at Wabash.

About mid-week, Labbies will face real-life lawyers and labor negotiators, who come to campus to work out a deal. Companies that negotiate intricate details and can avoid a strike stand the best chance of competing for the "Best Managed Firm" award, which is presented at graduation ceremonies on Saturday afternoon.

Barreto teaches economics and runs the business simulation. Shaheen, who in real life used to serve as Chief Operating Officer for Long Electric Company and now works in a senior position with the NCAA, brings reality to the simulation. Shaheen can and does present information to the students on what it’s really like to run a company—keeping costs down, wages up, and delivering stock dividends to shareholders.


Labbies listen intently to Shaheen's discussion of production.








Tobey Herzog swings in mid-week to present the principles of advertising and marketing. He shows the Labbies the best commercials and print ads ever made, then teaches them why the ads were effective. He later works with them to develop marketing plans that will lead to their own advertising campaigns in print and TV commercials. It’s magic when the Labbies fully understand how best to take the features of a product and advertise them in media most effective with the target audience.

Throughout the week, the Labbies make speeches and presentations. They also make some of the best friends they’ll ever have. There is plenty of time for socializing, relaxing, and getting to know new people.

It’s the perfect mix of tough academic work and social time that results in a one-of-a-kind camp experience.

Best of all, the entire program is free for the students who enroll. Wabash Advancement officers have solicited foundations, corporations, and business people throughout the state who donate money to allow the students to attend.

Sponsors of the 2004 OLAB program include the Carmel Rotary Club; D.J. Angus-Scientech Educational Foundation; Eugene and Marilyn Glick Foundation Corporation; John B. Goodrich Charitable Trust; Indianapolis Power and Light; Lithonia Hi-Tek Lighting Group; James D. Price; Union Federal Savings and Loan Association; Indiana Sports Corporation; and the Benjamin A. Rogge Fund.


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