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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The Mountaineers that won this year’s Race to the Case Supply Chain Management Competition credited their victory to teamwork and trust in one another’s specialties.

On Oct. 8 industrial engineering majors James Carnes and Ashley Skertic, along with global supply chain management majors Ryan Jadra and Amy Toscano, traveled to the University of Pittsburgh campus to face off against nine other teams. Modeled after the Emmy-award winning show “The Amazing Race,” the Race to the Case contest presented practical business-related problems which required the expertise of both economic and engineering students to overcome.

This year’s competition, Jadra explained, centered on spice producer Synthite. In the competition, the company faced problems of overstocked inventory and not getting products to the customers in a timely manner — problems that required the team to split up and put their skills to use.

“It’s quite interesting running in heels with backpacks,” Skertic said, emphasizing the importance of speed. She said timing in the first round was critical since teams that were fast not only received bonus points; those that were slower lost points.

Jadra noted the real-world experiences of the exercises because none of the teammates met each other until the night before the competition, as would happen in the world of big business when challenges emerged. He said the judges for the competition included representatives from Pepsi, UPS and others.

Carnes said the final round of the competition was to choose what manufacturing method Synthite should use. The team, he said, opted to go with a hybrid method combining made-to-order and assembly-to-order manufacturing. This meant the spice manufacturer could keep churning out low variety products in bulk ,while still having the means to make specialty products without stalling the production line.

Toscano said the team’s strategy in view of the fast pace was to trust that everyone was on top of their game so as to avoid wasting time second guessing one another’s work.

In the end, the four Mountaineers placed first, marking WVU’s third consecutive win in the competition. What’s more, Jadra said WVU has won Race to the Case three out of the four years the competition has been in existence. The University of Pittsburgh came in second place, while Penn State came in third.

Jadra, a senior, said the victory was quite a coup in view of the fact that WVU’s global supply chain management major is new. He and 10 others will be the first WVU students to receive their degrees in this field come May 2018.

“It’s really great for our program to go there and win against these other teams whose schools have had this program for several years now,” said Toscano, who will be graduating a year after Jadra.

Not only did the team succeed without prior experience working together, none of them had participated in Race to the Case before.

In a WVU press release, Dr. Kenneth R. Currie, professor and chair person of the WVU Statler College’s Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, praised the team for putting its skills to use in a practical manner so quickly.

“What is significant to me is that our winning team is very young in their major,” he said. “This shows how quickly our students learn the practice of their profession.”


Information from: The State Journal,