Today@Sam Article

Students Take Third Place In Supply Chain Data Analytics Competition

May 24, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

DSCN0181Creatively applying classroom knowledge to help with a real-world problem is how Sam Houston State University seniors, Taylor Swearingen, Sheena Fitzgerald, and Katia Funes, recently earned a third-place title in the national 2021 Supply Chain Data Analytics Competition.

Designed to give students the opportunity to work on real-industry applications, the competition was based on strategic and tactical planning issues faced by Feeding America in their pursuit of ending hunger.

Student teams were tasked with analyzing large-scale supply chain datasets and finding solutions that could help Feeding America serve under-resourced communities, predict operational costs, and improve transportation efficiency. The analysis and insights were presented to and evaluated by a panel of industry experts.

“Presenting logistics and forecasting solutions to aid Feeding America in their mission to end hunger will always be a memorable introduction to analyzing large datasets,” Fitzgerald said.

Given the scale and the challenge of the problem, students of all levels were invited to participate. Doctoral, master, and undergraduate student teams from universities across the country joined the competition, hosted by the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.

The SHSU team, directed and led by professor Willow Yang, included all undergraduate students majoring in supply chain management in the College of Business Administration. Encouraged by the supply chain management faculty, the three seniors teamed up and carried out an end-to-end supply chain analytics project, from data cleaning and transformation to model construction and storytelling.

Competing alongside master and doctoral student teams was a unique experience for all three students, who managed to be the only undergraduate team reaching the finals and placing third following two PhD teams.

“The Supply Chain Management degree is both a challenging and rewarding program,” said Pamela Zelbst, professor of Supply Chain Management and director of the Center for Innovation & Technology at SHSU. “We were delighted to see these talented students standing up to the challenges and creatively applying what they have learned in the classroom to complex real-world problems. We are also fortunate to have a professor such as Dr. Yang, who is dedicated to the education of our students and finding opportunities for our students to gain experience for their future.”

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