The Supply Chain Management program at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business hosted the college’s fourth annual undergraduate supply chain competition, The MSU Undergraduate Supply Chain Challenge, March 22-23, 2012, at the James B. Henry Center for Executive Development on MSU’s campus. Rather than a traditional “case,” the competition involved a supply chain simulation – the Supply Chain Operations Decision Environment (SCODE) – developed at the Broad College in cooperation with several major corporations including Chrysler, Dow Chemical, Flextronics, IBM and Motorola. Over 50 participants from 14 schools participated.
A team of three students from MSU took second place – Kayla Brenner, Monica Nawrocki and Jason Tan, and their advisor, Associate Professor Bixby Cooper. Teams from The Ohio State University and the University of Dayton took first and third place respectively.
“The students were all able to learn something from the SCODE simulation – what can go wrong and how to balance the results,” says the John H. McConnell Chaired Professor of Business Administration David Closs. “It isn’t about doing one thing best. To be a Supply Chain professional today, you have to balance all of the factors involved, from environmental variables to selecting a global operations strategy and making week-to-week operating decisions for the firm.”
In addition to MSU, undergraduate teams of three to four students from around the country participated from the following colleges: Central Michigan University, University of Dayton, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Marquette University, University of North Florida, Northeastern University, Ohio State University, Portland State University, Rutgers University, University of Texas, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.
The competition started on March 22, when students were introduced to the SCODE simulation through a simple simulation overview and “training” scenario involving a single manufacturing plant location serving the entire world. Decisions had to be made concerning which suppliers to use and what modes of transportation to use for inbound raw materials. Production had to be scheduled based on a demand forecast, and orders had to be filled involving transportation mode selection. The training scenario ensured that everyone understood the basic simulation, what decisions needed to be made, how to input data, what the output looked like, and how output should be analyzed to make the required decisions.
The actual competition on March 23 was similar but a little more complex: one plant location was given but a second plant location also had to be selected and two products were involved, not just one. Then the decisions that needed to be made were essentially the same types of decisions as in the training scenario, just complicated by the fact that there were two plants, two products, and students had to make assignments of markets to each plant. Other things that were considered included capacity requirements and sourcing strategies. On day two, faculty and sponsors were also invited to a session led by Closs on “Trends in Supply Chain Management” while teams finished their simulations and submitted their results.
Teams were measured on total revenue, order fulfillment, inventory turns and a profit figure the Broad College calls “supply chain contribution.”
It was announced after the competition that the event will be renamed the Bowersox Supply Chain Challenge starting next year to honor the late Professor Emeritus of Supply Chain Management and Marketing at the Broad College Donald Bowersox. Through his 40+ years of service to MSU, Bowersox left a lasting legacy due to his impact on both the academic world and practitioners of Supply Chain Management.
The Broad College would like to thank the following corporate sponsors for making the 2012 MSU Undergraduate Supply Chain Challenge possible: Northrop Grumman, ArcelorMittal, ConocoPhillips, Dow, Ford, GM Foundation, John Deere, Norfolk-Southern and Shell.
Photo caption: (l. to r. back row) Mike Forbes – Northrup Grumman, Associate Professor Bixby Cooper, Mike Pruente – ConocoPhillips, Michelle Braun – GM Foundation, Chuck Doyle – Ford Motor Company and Mike Riba – Shell. (l. to r. front row) Broad students Monica Nawrocki, Jason Tan and Kayla Brenner; Nicole Moyer – ArcelorMittal and Brad Dunkel – ArcelorMittal.