A team of students majoring in supply chain management technology placed second in the Conexus Logistics Case Study Competition held October 12-14 in Indianapolis. Erika Horton, Cole Mason, Matthew Schnell and Mike Schramm represented Purdue Polytechnic and will share a $2000 prize, awarded after the competition’s final presentations at Rolls-Royce.
The three-day competition featured 18 student teams from throughout Indiana working to develop a winning response to a real-world logistics business case. The case Conexus Logistics assigned involved a home improvement company experiencing capacity issues with its regional distribution centers. On the competition’s second day, student teams were also informed of an impending strike at one of the ports where the company received goods from overseas. Teams were tasked with finding short- and long-term solutions.
“We started off with a discussion to align our vision, diverged to complete individual tasks to increase our overall productivity, and then re-converged to share our findings and realign with that vision,” said Schnell, a senior in supply chain management technology. “We repeated this process for all of the elements we needed to make our presentation. Most of the content we generated was a direct result of the classes we have taken, but our individual work experiences were vital in supplementing our justifications for many of the decisions we made.”
The Purdue Polytechnic student team drew upon course experience in the Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation which included concepts in warehousing and inventory control, transportation and logistics, financial management, and sales management, among others. Students were told they could use texts, online resources and any other information at their disposal, but asking their professors’ help was not permitted.
“A key reason our students were able to compete so well is the way we address classroom teaching in the Polytechnic,” said Kathryne Newton, associate dean for graduate programs, special advisor for faculty success, and professor of supply chain management. “TLI has always required student projects and presentations in classes, but the Polytechnic transformation has provided these seniors with even more exposure to teamwork and presentational speaking which was evident in their final presentation.”
“Even if we had not placed, the experience as a whole was well worth it,” Schnell said. “This direct involvement with industry is exactly what we need. We will often face situations like these once we move into industry, and this is an insightful glimpse into some of the problems we will tackle on a daily basis.”
“The competition was an opportunity for our students to learn exactly what they are capable of when pushed hard,” Newton said. “Of course, the potential promise of a prize was a great motivator, but they also were able to interact with CEOs from multiple companies around the state. The Conexus Logistics Council provided our students with a tremendous opportunity.”
“We had a dinner the first night and a career fair the second night,” Schnell said. “Typically at these sorts of events, one would expect to talk to someone from HR or recruiting, but we were literally dining with executives the first night, and the second night they were at the company booths just to connect with us. Even within a company, how often do most people get to sit down and have dinner with their CEO? I would recommend partaking in this event to any student.”
Student teams from Valparaiso University and the University of Evansville won first and third places, respectively.