Michigan Ross MBAs Among the Winners for Tauber Institute’s Spotlight! Competition


Graduate students from across the University of Michigan, including MBAs from the Ross School of Business, presented new solutions for tough operations challenges during the Tauber Institute for Global Operations' 2019 Spotlight! Team Project Showcase and Scholarship Competition on Sept. 13. 

Initial sponsoring company calculations indicate the student team projects this year resulted in averaged $30 million per project savings over three years, and the projected savings total is $390.3 million.

Spotlight! is an annual competitive presentation of operations solutions developed by Tauber Institute student teams during their 14-week team projects at 16 top global companies. At 2019 Spotlight!, Tauber's student teams showcased their project results and competed for academic scholarships. A panel of distinguished judges from diverse industries selected the first-, second-, and third-prize winners among the 21 student teams.

Michigan Ross MBAs were members of each of the winning team: 

First Place: Tauber Team Ford Motor Company

Team members: Charlie Manzoni, MBA;  Hiroki Tanaka, MBA

Faculty Advisors: Peter Lenk, professor of technology and operations at Ross; Dennis Blumendeld from the U-M College of Engineering

Project: Ford has a vision for the "Factory of Tomorrow," which involves smart factories using artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and other new technologies. Manzoni and Tanaka used machine learning and integer programming to automate the manufacturing planning process for new vehicles and to optimize the resulting plan. Results? Up to $3 million annual direct savings for a single plant and $1 million cost avoidance across North America.

Second Place: Tauber Team General Electric

Team Members: Federico Kulyckyj, EGL BSE/MSE Data Science; Mitali Linge, MSE-IOE; and Jacob Siddall, MBA 

Faculty Advisors: Samantha Keppler, assistant professor of technology and operations at Ross; Quentin Stout from the College of Engineering

Project: Kulyckyj, Linge, and Siddal were tasked with developing an analytics product to bring version 1.0 to market while researching and beginning development on release 2.0. The results? The team used insights gathered through customer interviews, industry research, and competitive landscape analysis to establish product definition and build an initial prototype for analytics software; anticipated to generate $15 million in increased revenue through 2020.

Third Place: Tauber Team Pfizer Inc.

Team members: Andres Fuentes-Afflick, MBA; Jason Ji (EGL BSE-Che / MSE-IOE)

Faculty Advisors: Brian Talbot, professor emeritus of business administration and technology and operations at Ross; Henry Wang from the College of Engineering

Project: Fuentes-Afflick and Ji worked with Pfizer to improve the use of the Sandwich, England-based facility to empower Pfizer to increase efficiency to deliver a greater portfolio of clinical trials and reduce the time it takes to get new medicines to market. This could help Pfizer’s ambitious plan to bring 15 new drugs to market by 2022 and meet the many unmet needs of patients globally.

A signature initiative of the Tauber Institute, team projects pair exceptional students with top companies for a 14-week multidisciplinary, collaborative project. Each two-three person project team consists of U-M graduate business and engineering students. Along with executive direction from the sponsoring firm, each team receives support from both a Michigan Ross and a Michigan Engineering faculty advisor and supervision by a Tauber Institute co-director. The Tauber Alumni Network provides additional mentorship and networking opportunities for students at their team project locations.

Student teams work on-site at their sponsoring company from May through August to find solutions for substantive operations challenges. Solutions may include lean process design and implementation, manufacturing site strategic assessment, sourcing plans, inventory management, logistics, and new product development. The team projects typically provide a significant monetary return on a sponsor’s investment, as well as improvements in areas such as CO2 emissions, energy consumption, throughput time, and supply chain risk.

Project sponsors this year included leaders in a wide range of industries, such as aerospace, internet commerce, high tech, automotive, energy, and retail. There were numerous returning sponsors — AIP Canam Group, Amazon, Boeing, Dell, Dow, DTE Energy, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Stanley Black & Decker, Stoneridge, and Target — as well as new partner Brose. 

Congratulations to the Michigan Ross MBAs on the winning teams this year!


Tauber Institute for Global Operations