In the News

February 11, 2019

ICS Contracts & Grants Team Deliciously Rewarded for In-N-Out Gingerbread House

The Contracts & Grants team in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) might not have won first place at the 2018 ICS Gingerbread House Competition — that honor went to the Office of Access and Inclusion for its Eiffel Tower — but they still came out ahead with their rendition of In-N-Out Burger!

The Contracts and Grants team’s entry for the 2018 ICS Gingerbread House Competition.

They decided to re-create the popular fast-food burger chain to commemorate a fun team outing. “When I started working at ICS, our first team lunch was at In-N-Out,” says Melissa Shon, who joined the team last August. She said they still talk about what an enjoyable day that was, so when the annual ICS Gingerbread House Competition rolled around, Shon decided, “what better way to celebrate our favorite group outing than to build it out of candy and gingerbread?”

Less than two weeks later, after about five or six hours of labor, they had their own mini In-N-Out, with Teddy Graham versions of themselves seated at Rice Krispies Treat tables. “The hardest part,” says Shon, “was getting the iconic arched palm trees to stay standing at an angle!”

The final gingerbread representation, with candy burgers, marshmallow shakes and chocolate-bar cars lined up on a chocolate-paved drive-through, was the product of solid teamwork. “This project definitely built up our team in many ways — it improved group communication, brainstorming, and decision making,” says Shon. “It was great to see each person’s strengths translated into a medium other than our daily work.”

So when the competition came to a close, instead of throwing out their masterpiece, Shon contacted In-N-Out. Now, the gingerbread burger joint is on display at the corporate headquarters at University Tower. A few weeks after making the delivery, Shon received a heart-felt thank-you card, with handwritten notes from staff members and In-N-Out gift cards for the entire team!

The ICS Contracts & Grants team with their thank-you card and gift cards from In-n-Out: (from left) Juancho Banaag, Gloria Muringayi, Herumi Baylon, Melissa Shon and Mark Gardiner.

Who knows what the team’s 2019 entry will look like, but regardless of the design, Shon says it’s “a great activity for boosting team morale!” Maybe they’ll start planning at their next In-N-Out team lunch, which will be on the (gingerbread) house, of course.

— Shani Murray
ICS Contracts & Grants Team Deliciously Rewarded for In-N-Out Gingerbread House


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Media interested in interviewing ICS faculty, students or alumni should contact Matt Miller at (949) 824-1562 or via email at matt.miller@uci.edu.