KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A team of Western Michigan University integrated supply management students finished first place at the General Motors/Wayne State University Supply Chain Case Competition held Oct. 4 to 6 in Detroit. This is the second year in a row that a WMU team has placed in this annual event that draws students from more than 20 top supply chain management programs around the world.
This year's competition focused on sourcing parts for seats in the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, which are set to launch at the end of 2018. The team was tasked with simulating components purchasing, shipping those components to an assembly plant and finally shipping the finished product to General Motors facilities to be installed in vehicles. Students were given five weeks to solve the given challenges and prepare their presentation. During the final round of the competition, the remaining groups were given four hours to solve a surprise problem—a cybersecurity breach.
"This is a highly competitive case competition," says Dr. Zac Williams, director of the Center for Integrated Supply Management and associate professor of marketing. "Our students did a wonderful job looking at a very real and complex supply chain situation, understanding the issues, conducting sound analysis and walking the executive judges through their solutions. The integrated supply management faculty are all very proud of the students' hard work and success."
The winning team
The team leveraged integrated supply management coursework and individual experience from internships in the supply chain field to create a solution that addressed real issues companies face today. They brought a creative solution to a multifaceted supply chain problem that General Motors encountered only a year ago, by recognizing each individual's strengths, and allowing each team member to flourish.
- Junior Jake Malone of Rockford used knowledge from his materials co-op at Eaton Corporation to analyze how steel tariffs are currently impacting General Motors.
- Senior Meriah Putnam of Lapeer used her experience as an outbound logistics intern for General Motors to make decisions on logistics for seat assembly and shipping.
- Junior Vernon Crump Jr. of Inkster focused on risk mitigation, bringing in real-world issues such as political instability, market threat from competitors and the risks associated with global sourcing.
- Junior John Hayward of Portage focused on purchasing from suppliers and creative logistics solutions.
“Our team worked very hard,” says Hayward. “We put in more than 100 hours of work on this case. Our resulting win showed the world that Western Michigan University students have grit. We want the chance to be great, we want to impact the world and we are willing to work hard to get there.”
About the ISM program
WMU's integrated supply management program has been recognized nationally by several organizations for its leadership in preparing students for careers in supply chain management. The program is consistently ranked on Gartner's list of Top 10 U.S. Supply Chain Undergraduate Programs. The integrated supply management curriculum emphasizes supply chain logistics, information technology, continuous improvement and engineering and requires students to acquire actual business experience through internships and classroom projects.
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