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Case competition gave students an up-close look at high-tech vehicle manufacturing supply chains
October 02, 2012

Wayne State University’s School of Business Administration and General Motors brought some of the leading supply chain students from across the country to Detroit from Sept. 20 – 22 for an in-depth look at the supply chain systems that support the automotive industry and its high-tech vehicles.

The second annual General Motors/Wayne State University Supply Chain Case Competition, featuring the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu ECO, convened 16 university groups in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. The program introduced students to the issues and challenges involved in producing leading technology vehicles through a case study. They examined topics such as risk mitigation, vehicle production schedules, launch dates and production locations.

“This was an opportunity to showcase the Southeast Michigan supply chain and its business opportunities, as well as introduce students to the many cultural and entertainment venues of Detroit,” said John Taylor, associate professor and chair of the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management.

“Additionally, students had ample time to network with automotive supply chain professionals and participate in several panel sessions on supply chain careers.”

The case recommendations were prepared in advance to allow the students plenty of time to explore Detroit and the automotive industry during their visit. One highlight was a tour of GM’s Lake Orion Assembly plant.

Prior to their visit, the students analyzed production plans for the Chevrolet Malibu ECO and studied the implications for key suppliers’ production strategies. The teams developed recommendations based on their investigation of the supply chain enterprise, data analysis and study of financial implications, and then presented their findings to a panel of judges during the competition portion of the program.

The 16 teams were divided into four groups and participated in a preliminary competition on the second day. The winning semifinalist teams received additional information and prepared a second presentation for the competition’s final round the next day. Winning teams were announced at an awards dinner that evening. Christine Krathwohl, executive director, General Motors Global Logistics and Containers, delivered the keynote address. Winners took home plaques and cash prizes.

This year, Howard University, Miami University (Ohio), Michigan State University and Pennsylvania State University were the four finalists with first place going to Miami University. Last year, Wayne State University’s team came in second place on the Chevrolet Volt case study. To prevent bias, judges do not learn a team’s university affiliation until after the competition is complete.

"The Supply Chain Case Competition was a great opportunity for General Motors and its suppliers to work with some of the top young supply chain talent in the United States to provide them with some real-world scenarios,” said Bill Hurles, General Motors executive director of global purchasing and supply chain. “This event was a win-win for all those involved – GM and other suppliers had a chance to hear new and creative ideas from future supply chain professionals and the students gained real-world experience.”

The case was developed by title sponsor General Motors and fellow sponsors Bridgestone, Delphi, Lear, and Ryder, in conjunction with WSU’s supply chain faculty. The competition also included the sponsorship of the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG).

Participating universities came from Colorado, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Washington D.C., and Michigan.

After two years, 128 supply chain students in the United States have participated in the General Motors/Wayne State University Supply Chain Case Competition.

For additional information, visit the program Web page.