MEM Students, Alumni Bond at Northwestern Football Game

The eighth annual MEM tailgate party sponsored by PriSim Business War Games fostered networking and community building.

As Lynda Budiman began her first quarter in Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program this past month, she looked for ways to get to know her peers, both inside and outside of the classroom. She found one of those opportunities in an unlikely spot: a football game.

Budiman was one of more than 100 students and alumni to attend the annual MEM tailgate party on campus prior to Northwestern's football game against Michigan State. 

"I was looking forward to meeting the other students and faculty in the program," Budiman said. "I thought the tailgate would be a perfect casual event to get to know more people in the program while having fun at the same time."

That is the exact goal of the tailgate, according to Jeffrey Lefebvre, who is an adjunct professor in MEM and the founder of PriSim Business War Games, which sponsored the party for the eighth consecutive year.

"PriSim values our long-standing relationship with the MEM program," Lefebvre said. "As a professional masters program, it’s difficult to get everyone together outside of a classroom in a more relaxed environment. We view the tailgate as an opportunity to network and socialize, building connections and a sense of community."

The tailgate featured a variety of food, drinks, and games for party attendees. Budiman, who is one of 28 new full-time and part-time students in the MEM program, said the casual setting helped attendees feel more comfortable to mingle and get to know each other. 

"The tailgate allows the MEM community to put down the books and get to know one another on a different level," Lefebvre said. "I’m sure students know each other from a grade and project perspective, but each student is more than that, and at the tailgate, we get to see each other on a more personal level."

The event has also become an annual tradition that alumni plan ahead for and look forward to attending, said MEM Associate Director Stephen Tilley. Alumni and their families represent nearly half of the attendees each year, and outside of the annual MEM Industry Night celebration, the tailgate represents the strongest showing of alumni engagement. 

“MEM hosts at least one social event each month to bring together students, alumni, and faculty," Tilley said, "but the PriSim tailgate has always been the one special event to kick-off the start of a new academic year.”