Harvey Mudd College won first prize in the undergraduate division of the APICS West Coast Student Case Competition and now moves on to national competition in San Antonio in October.

The APICS Southwest District recently hosted 23 teams in San Diego from the Western United States, Hong Kong and Mexico in a student case competition to solve computer-simulated supply chain problems, provide analysis and present their recommendations. Undergraduate team Harvey Mudd College won the top spot representing the Southwest District in the national competition in San Antonio, Texas. These simulations challenged students, most with backgrounds in operations management, supply chain management, business management, industrial engineering, or MBA students, to create solutions to the problems posed and provide the rationale for their recommendations. Their work cumulated into judged presentations explaining their strategies and proposed outcomes.

“I am always impressed with how well the students perform, and this year was no exception – in fact, they raise the bar higher every year,” explains APICS West Coast Student Case Competition co-chair Lisa Anderson of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. “This is such an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their supply chain and business management problem-solving talents and presentation skills to their peers, professors and potential employers. I am especially thrilled because Harvey Mudd is an APICS Inland Empire Chapter student team.”

Winning team member Katherine Shim of Harvey Mudd College was thrilled with the outcome, stating, “It was exciting to see the theories we learned at school working. It was a great opportunity to experience the power of teamwork and the effectiveness of a rigorous technical approach. Harvey Mudd College educates their students to become creative problem solvers who also effectively communicate with others as leaders.”

As in previous years, there were two separate divisions – a Graduate and an Undergraduate division. Ten teams competed in the graduate division, and 13 teams in the Undergraduate division. Arizona State University took first and second place in the Graduate division. Undergraduate division winner was Harvey Mudd College with second place awarded to San Diego State University. Harvey Mudd College received the highest overall score and will be invited to compete at a case competition at the APICS International Conference & Expo in San Antonio, TX in October, representing the Southwest District.

“The opportunity to apply supply chain principles has helped me achieve a deeper understanding and gain confidence in my skills,” shared Harvey Mudd student Joe Sinopoli. “I appreciate the resources that APICS provided to help us prepare. The environment of the competition was collegial, welcoming, and wonderful for networking. The shared knowledge and opportunity to hear ideas from students at other institutions has benefited my education.”

Saagar Anand, of Arizona State University, felt the competition provided valuable practical experience. “The simulation called for a deep understanding of what it takes to make a business profitable. We focused on getting to the root cause of the problem and used data analytics to make our decisions. The competition was one of the best I have attended as it simulated a real-world business situation by making us present to the Board of Directors. We had to explain the decisions we made and answer questions. It also fostered a good learning environment as one could see what other teams had done differently.”

Fellow ASU student, Moose Fritz, agreed, saying “The APICS West Coast student case competition was a tremendous experience which built upon the traditional analytical requirements of a simulation competition, demanding both teamwork and communication skills. This holistic learning system, combined with the chance to meet and network with professionals in the field, made this one of the most valuable experiences I have had at any level of education.”

Judging was provided by APICS professionals with extensive experience in supply chain and operations management with 50 percent of the final score focused on the return on investment results from their computer-simulated exercise and the other 50 percent graded on presentation effectiveness.

“Student case competition is about leadership, decision making, strategic thinking and communication. What a great experience for the students!” Prof. Kash Gokli, Professor of Manufacturing Practice at Harvey Mudd College.

The annual competition provides students with experience working as a team to solve supply chain issues that take place in companies today. Participants are able to showcase their talent for fellow students, professors and future employers. The event was coordinated and chaired by the APICS-IE LMA Consulting Group; president, Lisa Anderson and Ellen Kane.