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Race to the Case SCM Competition Tests Minds and Feet

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This past October, students from Penn State University, University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University Behrend, University of Illinois, and West Virginia University tested their knowledge of supply chain management in the third annual Race to the Case Competition, hosted by the Pitt Business Center for Supply Chain Management with support from the Swanson School of Engineering. 

Each team consisted of a mix of business and engineering students. In each of the three, one-hour races, students had to think – and act - quick on their feet. After solving a challenge, students then had to move to the next stage and were scored based on when they arrived. Overall, the case competition focused on the economics and risk of various operating models for a system of supply chain distribution centers in Europe and Africa. 

In the final round, only the top three groups were invited to present to a group of judges. The judges were corporate leaders and faculty. In the presentation, these corporate and faculty judges acted as a board of directors. The judges included the CEO of Environmental Service Laboratories, Inc.; the president of Denton, Neely & Co., LLC; a manager of UPS Supply Chain Solutions; and a senior manager of GENCO. The corporate judges not only provided students with business knowledge but also a chance to network with professionals

The first prize of $3,000 was awarded to West Virginia University. This is the second year in a row that West Virginia has finished first. The second place award of $1,500 went to Penn State University, and the third place award of $500 went to the University of Pittsburgh.

"This competition is truly unique because a student organizing committee runs the entire event. These students exemplify the undergraduate business school's mission of taking classroom knowledge and applying it to the city, and ultimately the world,” said Prakash Mirchandani, director of the Supply Chain Management Center and professor of administration.

After the competition concluded, Howard Kuhn, professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, spoke about “Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)”. 3D printing is transforming supply chain management because it allows designers and engineers to prototype and vet designs for products. Locating design flaws, re-prototyping and redesigning are made easier and more affordable through 3D printing.

Race to the Case is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Supply Chain Management. The Center for Supply Chain Management was established in 2014 with financial support from GENCO, a Pittsburgh-based logistics provider, and Herb Shear, GENCO’s former executive chairman. 

Through the center, students are provided many hands-on experiences that help them to develop supply chain management skills. In Race to the Case, students developed professional speaking skills while applying their supply chain management knowledge to a real-world situation. 

The Race to the Case Competition continues to grow each year. This year the University of Illinois and Penn State Behrend were welcomed to the competition for the first time. Last year, Penn State and West Virginia University were in attendance for the first time.                                                                      

For more information about the Center, its upcoming events, and opportunities for students to get involved in supply chain management activities, visit the Center for Supply Chain Management website