Tauber Students Apply Operations Knowledge to Community Organizations

February 8, 2019
The annual Tauber Community Service Day brings together Tauber Institute students, alumni, faculty, and industry representatives who volunteer their expertise to provide operations solutions for community organizations. "It's easy for small businesses to be focused on the day to day operations and to be consumed by it," remarked Tauber Insitute student volunteer Juan Alfaro (MBA '20), "but helping them to focus on a global view of where they're headed, and what they need to think about as they get there is really great."
In 2019, Tauber Institute volunteers partnered with the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program and with Argus Farm Stop in Ann Arbor.
With two Ann Arbor locations, Argus Farm Stop seeks to grow the local agricultural economy by providing a market where farmers can conveniently sell locally-grown produce and other goods to consumers all year round. Purchases at Argus Farm Stop link directly to the local farms and producers, who receive 75% of the selling price.
Argus Farm Stop co-founder Kathy Sample was eager to explore operations challenges with the Tauber Institute team. "Having a set of smart people with clear eyes and objective views looking at the systems that we are looking at every day always is beneficial, particularly when they are energetic students!" she said. Volunteers spent the day tackling a mulitifaced project which involved organizing deliveries and improving connections with local farmers, managing raw material and finished goods inventories, optimizing storage space, and creating a layout plan for a high-volume delivery hub.
Meanwhile, another team of Tauber Institute volunteers was hard at work the DAPCEP offices in Detroit, addressing a data analysis challenge. For 40 years, the non-profit Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program has partnered with universities, training programs, and K-12 school systems to connect youth to the best educational experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math. DAPCEP has amassed a rich database of historical student survey data, but it can be difficult to access for marketing or fund raising. The Tauber Institute volunteers worked on analyzing the database contents and building an interactive dashboard to provide easier access to the data needed to mobilize DAPCEP's large and supportive alumni community.
Tauber Institute student volunteer Shabir Grover (MSE-ME and MM '20) was especially excited about helping DAPCEP to access their data directly. "We are going to prepare a report for them which will talk out how they are going to operate the technology, and which will reduce their dependence on third party organizations for their services - because now they would be generating their own insights," Grover said. "Plus, there's the flexibility they will have on what kind of results that they want to see and how they want to showcase it to get potential funding and grants from institutions. So, I think it will be a great value to them."