UNT students conquer logistics challenges in international competition
UNT students took home second place at the Student Case Competition and Supply Chain Conference early last month in Denver, Colorado.
The competition, hosted by the Denver Transportation Club, involved schools from the U.S. and Canada. It was a Canadian team, Dalhousie-Canada University, that took first place over all the schools, but UNT and Dalhousie-Canada have traded first place wins over the last three years.
UNT was represented in this competition by four students: aviation logistics seniors David Looney and Hong Yun Yong, biomedical engineering junior Ashleigh Allison and logistics and supply chain management senior Sergio Garcia.
They said they’re fully aware of the hard work and dedication it takes to participate in such a technical extracurricular activity. They often spend hours in the Business Leadership Building preparing for their competitions, where they are accompanied by a coffee maker and soft chairs to allow them to brainstorm comfortably for hours.
Looney, Allison, Yong and Garcia prepared for the competition immediately when they received their “case.” A case is a logistical challenge incorporating a hypothetical situation or product. Students must use their knowledge of economics, business and strategy to solve the case.
Yong tells how the hypothetical problems involve trade with countries across the globe such as Japan and China.
“My strength is to compile the data and see which solution is best,” Yong Said. “Since we are covering countries outside of the United States we must look at their rates and costs too, along with the stability of the country.”
The case this year involved the manufacturing, sourcing, shipping and consolidation of a blender. The case was sent to all the participating teams, who have about three weeks to come up with their optimal solutions and then present it to a panel of judges.
The presentation of the case for the judges must include the hypothetical problem, the steps that would be taken to solve the problem and then a complete analysis including both qualitative and quantitative data.
Every case has an unknown “twist” to it, such as a product defect. The team must know how to backtrack and find another solution.
With every team receiving the same case, Allison says they challenge themselves to “consider…every possible scenario.”
“We consider all the situations that other teams may not think about, we even talked about pirates,” Allison said.
Team leader Looney said understanding alternatives also means understanding the economic stability, cost, quality and transportation of the product.
“One of the reasons why we incorporated so many alternatives are so we can identify the next best alternative, like if a product is defective or tariffs on trade,” Looney said. “Sometimes we have to go from logistics to reverse logistics.”
The team is picked and advised by associate director of the Center for Logistics Education and Research, Julie Willems-Espinoza. She distributes the materials for the case the students work on and travels with them to the competitions, however she is not allowed to help them in their problem-solving process.
Willems-Espinoza knows how this extracurricular activity takes up a lot of time, but said it is very rewarding.
“It’s very real-world based when they work on these cases,” Willems-Espinoza said. “The work that they put together is outstanding and it’s something they can use going forward in job interviews. Companies want to hire students that have been involved in case competitions.”
Students known as “observers” travel with the team to competitions. Observers are not participating in the competition but are learning the process of putting a case together and seeing it’s presentation. Later, these observers will step into a competition with the team and participating in setting up a case.
With more competitions upcoming, these UNT students will be working hard to achieve more success in solving logistical problems.
Featured image: Pictured from left to right is Ashleigh Allison, Hong Yun Yong and David Looney. Travis McCallum
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