Tauber students in high demand

January 26, 2021

Ann Arbor, MI – In spite of global business disruptions, Tauber Institute students are in high demand. Representatives of 22 top companies encompassing a wide range of industries have submitted a total of 28 Tauber team project proposals for the summer of 2021.

Team projects form the cornerstone of the multidisciplinary operations education Tauber Institute provides for qualified graduate students from the Michigan Ross School of Business and Michigan Engineering. During their 14-week-long projects, teams of 2-3 business and engineering students work directly for sponsoring companies to find solutions for substantive operations challenges. Tauber team projects uncover millions of dollars of savings, as well as significant improvements in areas such as energy consumption, waste reduction, throughput time, and supply chain risk.

For over 25 years, the Tauber Institute has welcomed sponsors to the University of Michigan campus to present their project proposals. This year, due to covid-19 safety precautions, sponsors shared recorded presentations with Tauber students, and will answer their questions in live zoom sessions over the next three weeks.

At the first Tauber student forum of the winter term, Tauber Engineering Co-director Larry Seiford encouraged students to engage with the full range of team project possibilities. “There's a host of really interesting projects and I suggest you keep an open mind to all of them. Some that you might at first not realize how great they are, end up being the project you really want in the end,” he said.

“Buckle up!” added Tauber Business Co-director Hyun-Soo Ahn, “The ride will be really fast and exciting.”

Typically, Tauber students work on-site for their sponsors, traveling internationally to plant locations and corporate headquarters, but in 2020, the covid-19 pandemic necessitated a quick pivot to a virtual format for over 90% of the projects. The institute’s adaptability, paired with the resilience of its students, demonstrated that even in the face of major disruption, Tauber team projects still provide an excellent return on a sponsor’s investment. The 2020 Tauber team projects resulted in $433.8 million in savings according to sponsoring company calculations, an average of $31 million per project over three years.

Tauber Industry Director Ray Muscat told students at the forum, “We are tremendously excited about getting started on this year's Tauber team project process. We've been working very hard right through the holidays to pull everything together.”

“The projects that we recruited are very diverse,” added Tauber Associate Director of Industry Relations Asli Aka, “We have new companies, we have returning sponsors, we have different industries, we have different subjects varying from digital transformation to technology transformation to sustainability in operations, so hopefully there will be something for everyone to grow in.”

The 2021 sponsors hail from a wide range of industries – including aerospace, automotive, beauty, food and beverage, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and technology. Several companies are first-time project sponsors. Tauber Marketing & Communications Manager Theresa Ceccarelli remarked, “The pandemic provided challenges across the board for many of these organizations. Asli worked hard to provide an exceptional level of customer service to maintain connections and form new partnerships - all in the midst of a pandemic. The company applications submitted this year are a testament to her dedication.”

At the student forum, Team Project Manager Michaele Reeves led students through the complex process designed to find the optimal team for each project, and students who participated in last year’s projects offered insights on the research, networking, and interviews that can result in a perfect match. But with 28 applications and 58 students, not every project proposal can be matched with a student team.

Aka said, “We run the algorithm with an open mind and if a project doesn't get staffed, it doesn't get staffed – and the companies know this in advance.”

“They're very disappointed,” Muscat told the students, “but there are companies that had projects that were not staffed who come back the next year and have them staffed. So they keep coming back, because this is a tremendous opportunity for them and also a tremendous opportunity for you, and they want to provide that opportunity.”

“They love Tauber,” Aka added, “and they believe in the process because they’ve seen it work.”

The final roster of 2021 Tauber team projects will be officially announced at the Tauber Team Project Kick-Off on April 6.

Contact: Theresa Ceccarelli, Marketing & Communications Manager / tceccare@umich.edu / 734-647-0308

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.