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WVU team wins Race to the Case competition at University of Pittsburgh

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A four-member team from West Virginia University captured first place in the Race to the Case Supply Chain Management competition at the University of Pittsburgh Oct. 16-17.

A four-member team from West Virginia University captured first place in the Race to the Case Supply Chain Management competition at the University of Pittsburgh Oct. 16-17.

Modeled after the TV show "The Amazing Race," teams were comprised of two supply chain and two engineering students. The WVU team, made up of two students each from the College of Business and Economics and the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, brought home a cash prize of $3,000.

The competition mirrors real-world situations where supply chain management professionals and engineers are challenged to solve problems under time pressure in cross-functional teams. As such, the competition challenged the students to rely on their collaborative, problem-solving and teamwork skills.

"I believe the Race to the Case competition was more about challenging business and engineering students to perform as a team and not just a group," said Kenneth R. Currie, Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering at the Statler College. "Their individual knowledge is not sufficient to address all the questions but, working in collaboration, they can leverage individual strengths to create a winning strategy."

The WVU winning team included Clay Chipps, a junior industrial engineering and Honors College student from Morgantown; Samantha DeRidder, a senior supply chain management student from Westbury, New York, and president of the WVU Supply Chain Management Association; Kevin Nicholson, a senior business student from Nazareth, Pennsylvania; and Perry Shumate, a senior industrial engineering student from Mount Hope.

The participants had an hour to complete the first round and then arrived at the next locations, and then had another hour to complete the second round and arrive at the subsequent location. The three teams with the highest overall scores advanced to the third and final round. In the final round, students do not have to race to another location; however, they have 30 minutes to prepare a presentation and deliver their analysis to a panel of judges who asked the kind of tough questions expected in an executive management setting.

Dr. Ednilson Bernardes, associate professor of supply chain management at B&E, said the competition called upon the students to use the skills they would use in the workplace of supply network systems - speed, precision and innovation. He added that as the United States and other countries push for a revitalization of manufacturing, there is also a demand for talented college graduates who know how to get goods and services to the geographical locations where they are needed.

"This is an invaluable opportunity for the students and reflects the current practices in the global supply chain environment, which requires the collaboration of experts with different technical and functional knowledge to solve complex problems or complete complex tasks," Bernardes said. "Across various industries, supply chain professionals work closely with engineers and other specialists from various areas to bring forward new projects."

Chipps said the group relied on team skills.

"This was a great experience to learn to work with a team you have never met before, and to work across majors that normally don't interact much during their academic careers," he said. "Meeting with industry leaders and learning to field hard hitting questions is a skill that cannot be taught, but has to be learned. The experience provides invaluable lessons for my future career."



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