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Tauber Students Gear Up for Operations Challenges

5/24/2010 --

MBA, MSCM, and engineering students spend summer months consulting with firms to resolve operations challenges.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Activity may have slowed on the Ross campus since spring commencement, but productivity is ramping up for members of the Tauber Institute for Global Operations. Some 31 student teams are currently working inside firms across the globe to resolve operations challenges and affect real change. Last summer, Tauber students projected savings of more than $270 million, or an average of more than $10 million per team, at participating firms.

Notably, when San Diego-based AMETEK Inc. wanted to optimize the supply chain for one of its products in 2009, the firm called on a team of Tauber students to do it. Jialing Li, MSCM '09, and Claudia Uehara, MBA '10, recommended and initiated AMETEK's transition to a new supply chain configuration; potential long-term savings for their plan came to an estimated $1.7 million per year.

The Tauber Institute is a partnership between Ross and the College of Engineering. This year, 77 students and 52 faculty advisers representing both entities are combining their expertise to tackle a host of new challenges for Alcoa, BorgWarner, Pfizer, and Ford Motor Co., among others.

"The Tauber project is a real test of the students' abilities to take a fairly complex problem, analyze it, come up with a solution, and then demonstrate what they did in a high-intensity presentation," says Tom Jones, senior vice president and general manager of supply chain solutions at Ryder System Inc., which has participated in the program. "They get tested pretty well throughout the process, and it forces them show a wide variety of their skills."

This year, participating firms cover a wide range of industries and locations, from longtime sponsor Boeing in Everett, Wash., to new participant National Label in Indonesia. Other new sponsors in 2010 include Cardinal Health, Federal-Mogul, Masco, Microsoft, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, and National Grid. International locations include China, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Mexico. Domestic locations span the United States from San Jose, Calif. to Groton, Conn.

Projects involve a high level of engagement, and students are paid throughout the 14-week experience. This summer students are being asked to scope and address issues regarding:

  • supply chain/logistics
  • lean manufacturing/operations
  • strategic assessment
  • inventory management
  • new product development
  • information technology
  • sustainability
  • procurement
  • financial modeling
  • brand management

In September students will convene for the annual Spotlight! competition in which they deliver project results and analysis. A panel of industry leaders will judge the presentations and prizes will be awarded in the form of scholarship funding. But long-term benefits for both students and firms often continue after the projects and competitions end. Some 64 percent of Tauber students accept full-time offers extended by the sponsoring companies.

Contact Amy Bellas, P.E., for more information on how your firm can benefit from a Tauber Team Project.

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847,