KALAMAZOO—A team of students enrolled in Western Michigan University's integrated supply management program finished third overall in a field of 22 at the 2014 APICS Great Lakes District case competition Feb. 21-22 in Downer's Grove, Ill.
WMU team members were Layla Farwana, of Kalamazoo, Mich.,Justin Giola, of Clarkston, Mich., Michael Merling, of Jackson, Mich., Ashley Moyle, of Mattawan, Mich., Brendan Mulcahy, of Livonia, Mich., and Kyle Slott, of Wheaton, Ill.
Part of the challenge for student teams was the short time frame allowed. Teams were given the case at 6 p.m. on a Friday and had to submit and be prepared to present their solution by 9 a.m. Saturday. The WMU team found ways to improve the operations of a fictitious company, Dazz Manufacturing. Not only did the improvements require a process analysis focus, but also financial analysis and validation of the optimal improvement method. Each team member came with a different experience base and was able to contribute to the ultimate success of the team.
"If you look at our performance in this competition, every year the WMU team goes up in placement," says Farwana. "It goes to show that our intensive curriculum is working, not just with the academics, but also with the experiential courses and Bronco Force projects. These experiential opportunities teach us how to do things better, faster and cheaper."
The team relied on its foundational knowledge of the supply chain from coursework as well as members' experiences in industry.
"Not only did this team 'gel' as an ISM family, but several of the team members were able to draw upon recent experiences with Bronco Force Solutions Teams—an initiative that places students in consulting roles within companies," says Ken Jones, director of executive education for the integrated supply management program. "In fact, Layla told me right after the presentation how similar this case was to her work helping us implement lean processes and systems at Impact Label, one of our Bronco Force clients. As a result, she felt the analysis and written response came fairly easily to the team. I believe this outcome is a great endorsement of our students, and I am extremely proud of them. It also serves as further validation of the experiential learning that is embedded in our program."
Integrated supply management program
Ranked No. 12 in undergraduate supply chain education, WMU's integrated supply management program has been recognized nationally by several organizations and publications for its leadership in preparing students for careers in supply chain management. The new Western Michigan University Center for Integrated Supply Management offers an array of student learning experiences focusing on hands-on education and innovative research.