The Supply Chain Management program at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business hosted the college’s third annual undergraduate supply chain competition, The MSU Undergraduate Supply Chain Challenge, April 7-8, 2011, 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  – developed at the Broad College in cooperation with several major corporations including Chrysler, Dow Chemical, Flextronics, IBM and Motorola. Nearly 75 participants from 16 schools participated.

A team of four students from MSU took third place – Courtney Buttermore, Tou Lin and Mingyang Liu, and advisor Associate Professor Bixby Cooper. Teams from The Ohio State University and Grand Valley State University took first and second respectively.

“The students found the SCODE simulation to be a great learning experience as it required them to identify key environmental variables, select a global operations strategy, and make week-to-week operating decisions for the firm,” says the John H. McConnell Chaired Professor of Business Administration David Closs. “In the final evaluation, they could see how their performance compared to the other competitors in each of the key performance indicators characteristic of supply chain management.”

In addition to MSU, undergraduate teams of three to four students from around the country participated from the following colleges: Arkansas State University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, University of Kentucky, University of Maryland, Miami (OH) University, Northeastern University, Ohio State University, Portland State University, Rutgers (State University of New Jersey), University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Towson State University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.

The competition started on April 7, when students were introduced to the SCODE simulation through a simple “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 April 8 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.

Teams were measured on total revenue, order fulfillment, inventory turns and a profit figure the Broad College calls “supply chain contribution.”

The Broad College would like to thank the following corporate sponsors for making the 2011 MSU Undergraduate Supply Chain Challenge possible: Northrop Grumman, Dow, John Deere, Ford, GM Foundation, Intel, ConocoPhillips and Shell.

Photo caption: The third-place MSU team with sponsor representatives (from l. to r.): Rob Guderian (Intel), Cheryl Dalsin (Intel), Jessica Fox (Dow), Chadwick Wu (Dow), Amarendra Kumar (Dow), Carl Johnson (Ford Motor Company), Bixby Cooper (MSU), Andrew Kiteley (ConocoPhillips), Courtney Buttermore (MSU), Mike Pruente (ConocoPhillips), Tou Lin (MSU), Bryan Wollenweber (GM Foundation), Mingyang Liu (MSU) and Beth Green (Northrop Grumman).