Winners of Spotlight! 2013 Announced

September 16, 2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Student teams representing W.W. Grainger, Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. tied for first place among 35 team projects at the annual Spotlight! Team Project Showcase Scholarship Competition. The results were announced in a closing ceremony on Friday, September 13 at the 20th Anniversary of the Tauber Institute for Global Operations Spotlight! event held at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Student team made up of MBA, Master of Supply Chain Management and College of Engineering graduate students presented the results of their team projects and competed for $44,000 in scholarship awards. The teams, composed of 82 students and supported by 51 faculty at 28 sponsoring companies around the world, worked in sectors including manufacturing and supply chain, health care, energy, technology, non-profit, and logistics to uncover solutions to real-life issues.

Diana Crossley, Managing Director of the Tauber Institute says of this year’s competition, “This year was extremely competitive and the results are an impressive representation of the student teams’ hard work as they collaborate to solve substantive issues within industry.”

Tying for 1st place in the competition was the W.W. Grainger’s team of Christopher Kalich (MBA’14), Nikhil Patel (BSE ChE/MSE IOE’14), and Judy Xu (MSCM ’13) who developed and piloted an automated mobile application for the Grainger sales force to submit RFQs in a standardized manner. Their goal was to improve the conversion rate of customer requests to purchase orders. The impact of the team’s recommendations amount to a potential revenue increase of $32 million. The Grainger team’s Faculty Advisors were Eric Svaan from the Ross School of Business and Vijay Nair, College of Engineering. Each student received a scholarship award of $5,000 and the team was presented with a “check” by Joel D. Tauber, benefactor of the Institute, at the conclusion of the Spotlight! event.

Also tied for first place was the Cisco Systems team of Benjamin Ranta (MBA/MSE IOE ‘15), Robert Rogers (MBA ‘14), and Christopher Stevens (BSE/MSE IOE ‘14). The team traveled to Malaysia to assist in the rapid launch and delivery of two new strategic products. The team accelerated the mass production ramp-up by increasing manufacturing throughput by 50% and was able to identify bottle necks and implemented solutions, increasing throughput by 33% and future revenue by $4M. The Faculty Advisers were Eric Svaan of the Ross School of Business and Prakash Sathe of the College of Engineering. Each student received a scholarship award of $5,000.

Receiving second place honors was the Boeing Paint team of Simon Bank (MSE IOE ’14) and Benjamin Brelje (BSE & MSE AERO ’14). Together the students led a project to automate the paint process for a large section of the 787-9 aircraft, resulting in $1.2 million annual savings and enabling strategic rate increases to accommodate future growth. The Faculty Advisers were Erdogan Gulari, College of Engineering and Len Middleton of the Ross School of Business. Each student received a scholarship award of $4,000.

In third place was the General Mills team of Meital Haas (BSE ChE/MSE IOE ‘14) and Erica Hoffman (BSE CEE/MSE IOE ‘14). Together the students analyzed the end to end supply chain of 135 million pounds of savory spices, including R&D, sourcing, logistics, manufacturing, engineering, and finance to establish a baseline and model recommended changes, saving $10.5 million annually. The Faculty Advisors were Gordon Krauss of the College of Engineering and Lisa Pawlik of the Ross School of Business. Each student received a scholarship award of $3,000.

Spotlight! Background

Each two- to three-person Tauber project team is made up of graduate engineering, MBA, and/or MSCM students. Along with receiving high-level corporate support from the company, each team is advised by a College of Engineering and a Ross School of Business faculty member and overseen by a Tauber Institute Co-Director. The projects begin on-site in May and continue for 14 weeks.

Convening back in Ann Arbor, students present the results of their projects and compete for over $40,000 in scholarship monies at the Tauber Institute's annual Spotlight! event, held each September at the Ross School of Business.

At Spotlight!, students showcase their project results and compete for academic scholarships. Spotlight! is a growing event that presents outstanding opportunities for students and corporate partners to establish relationships while expanding the university’s presence and uncovering new ideas and innovations in operations and manufacturing.

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About Tauber Institute for Global Operations
The Tauber Institute for Global Operations is a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, and 30 industry partners to facilitate cross-disciplinary education in global operations management. In addition to broad array of core and elective courses, the innovative LeadershipAdvantageSM Program provides students with the tools to ascend to major operations leadership roles. Well-designed and managed team projects form the cornerstone of the Tauber Institute experience and allow students to apply their knowledge to real world settings.

Theresa Ceccarelli, 734-647-0308,