ISM students finish first among undergrads at regional competition

contact: Cindy Wagner
| WMU News
Photo of WMU's case competition team.

From left: Jordan Kuhl, Ross Hughes, Brendan Mulcahy, Hanna Downs, Jeremy Paulson and Jordan Tauriainen.

KALAMAZOO—A team of students enrolled in Western Michigan University’s integrated supply management program was the top undergraduate team and finished fourth overall at the 2013 APICS Great Lakes District case competition.

A total of 24 teams, including several teams of graduate students, competed Feb. 23-24 in Downers Grove, Ill. The competition challenged students to find new ways to improve inventory control and increase customer service for a turboprop spare parts supplier known as Airflow Aircraft Inc.

Part of the challenge was the short time frame. Teams were given the case at 6 p.m. on Friday and had to submit and be prepared to present their solution by 9 a.m. Saturday. The WMU team found ways to cut inventory out of warehouses and move the remaining inventory high up the supply chain.

“The real breakthrough came when we all stepped back from the small parts of the case and looked at it as a whole,” says senior Jordan Kuhl. “We realized that we could have 20 percent of our inventory built to order. From that moment on, everything fell into place.”

The team relied on its foundational knowledge of the supply chain from coursework as well members’ experiences in industry.

“Our curriculum gave us the background knowledge we needed to make sense of the case and understand what was happening and what needed to be done,” says junior Hanna Downs, who credits the experience of four team members who currently hold internships with Kellogg Co. with bringing knowledge and insight from the industry that related to the solution.

Of the 24 teams participating, the three winning teams came from graduate programs at the University of Indianapolis, Purdue University and St. Cloud State University (Minn.), which won the event.

WMU team members

  • Hanna Downs, Novi, Mich.
  • Ross Hughes, Commerce Township, Mich.
  • Jordan Kuhl, Plainwell, Mich.
  • Brendan Mulcahy, Livonia, Mich.
  • Jeremy Paulson, Battle Creek, Mich.
  • Jordan Tauriainen, Highland, Mich.

 “Our students demonstrated to the judges the comprehensiveness of the 43-credit-hour ISM major and that they were job-ready,” says Dr. Sime Curkovic, professor of management and director of the ISM program. “We are extremely proud of them.”

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.