When U-M Engineering Global Leadership student Allison Ward and Master of Business Administration student Dan Partin embarked on thier 14-week Tauber team project for Dell, they had yet to fully grasp the immense scope of their assignment.
Partin and Ward write in their blog for Direct2Dell, "We knew all the statistics from our initial research— the 8 million tons of plastics entering the ocean every year, the growth to 80 million tons by 2025, and the notion that one day there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish. But until we actually saw the piles of discarded plastic and walked the beaches ourselves, it was really hard to imagine the horrific reality."
Ward and Partin were charged with helping Dell create a supply chain that would allow Dell to source more ocean bound plastic for its packaging, by extending Dell's supply chain from Haiti to South Asia. Their goal was to create a solution that would be both environmentally and economically friendly, and that would encourage other corporations to follow Dell's lead.
The students' travels allowed them to observe how "addressing ocean plastic not only has an environmental impact, but also creates economic opportunities in Indonesia and India for collectors, processors, and manufacturers.... Visiting India opened our eyes to the extent of the ocean plastics problem. It was very humbling to meet the informal collectors and it put our heart behind the project even more."
Dan Partin and Allison Ward will present the results of their Tauber team project at the upcoming 2017 Spotlight! Team Project Showcase and Scholarship Competition in Ann Arbor.
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The Tauber Institute for Global Operations is a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, working together with industry partners to facilitate cross-disciplinary education in global operations management. The Tauber Institute is an inaugural recipient of the UPS George D. Smith Prize for effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research, management science, or analytics. For more information visit www.tauber.umich.edu.