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WVU business school named divisional champions at international supply chain competition

A student team from the WVU College of Business and Economics was named division champions of the international Supply Chain Skills Challenge on Feb. 24 at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Team members, from left, are Rena Kobelak, Ryan Jadra and Amy Toscano, all of whom are global supply chain management majors at WVU. West Virginia University’s Global Supply Chain Management program has not be around a long time, but you would never know that from the accolades it has received in its short life.

Those accolades kept right on coming this past weekend, as a student supply chain competition team from the WVU College of Business and Economics was named divisional champion of the international Supply Chain Skills Challenge on Feb. 24 at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. The three-day challenge included 13 competing schools divided into four divisions, and consisted of a “jeopardy” and a case study.

“The jeopardy tested the full-spectrum of supply chain knowledge,” said Dr. Ednilson Bernardes, professor and program coordinator, Global Supply Chain Management, and team adviser. “In this stage, all the schools competed against each other and received points according to their performance. The case tests students’ ability to analyze a real supply chain problem, develop a solution, and present it persuasively to a panel of judges from the company involved in the case. The case this year was based on the company Autoliv and its parts fulfillment process with the auto company Nissan.”

Autoliv is the world’s largest automotive safety supplier, with sales to all major car manufacturers in the world. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Autoliv sells to 100 car brands, and has a presence and operations in 27 countries.

The WVU team was comprised of Ryan Jadra, a senior from Westminster, Md.; Amy Toscano, a junior from East Stroudsburg, Pa.; and Rena Kobelak, a junior from Pittsburgh, Pa. All three students are majoring in Global Supply Chain Management at WVU.

Bernardes said the competition presented complex situations to test the ability of the teams to adapt to changing conditions.

“One component of the competition challenged students in a supply chain volleyball tournament, where they needed to sense the changing environment, come up with a team strategy and implement it in the face of adversity. Extreme Supply Chain Volleyball allowed students to practice their scanning, coaching and teaming skills. Just like the competitive world, the rules in these fast-paced games are always changing,” said Bernardes.

“This competition was a great opportunity to use the skills I am learning in my classes and solve real problems for a real company,” said Toscano. “It was challenging to try to solve the case in 24 hours, but really tested our problem solving skills. This was a great opportunity to not only represent WVU, but also learn more about the supply chain industry.”

Kobelak said, “I am very proud of the work our team put in to earn recognition for our growing supply chain program at West Virginia University. The host school for the competition organized a tour of the Autoliv facility outlined in the case study. This gave a greater dimension to the problems we needed to solve, and ultimately aided our solutions.”

Global Supply Chain Management was introduced as an academic area of emphasis in 2014 and as an official academic major in 2016. The program was created by WVU in response to the global mindset that products can be made available quickly to those who want them, and provides students with the strategic big picture of supply chain processes, such as fulfilling customer demand and tactical level activities of planning and executing purchasing, manufacturing and shipping. Students develop the knowledge and skills to lead supply chain improvement projects, function in supply chain teams, and perform or lead supply chain activities with excellence.

The program was uniquely designed to help students understand core elements of the complex supply chain system, such as inbound logistics, operations and outbound logistics, and to understand how these elements interact to create value. Students are immersed in the entire supply chain, from managing purchasing of raw materials to the production of finished goods to the logistics of meeting customer demand. The program uniquely teaches students to not only identify opportunities for improvement of their companies, but also to bolster entrepreneurship through creation of new companies.

“The Global Supply Chain Management program has responded to a global, high demand for candidates with supply chain management knowledge and skills, which will be a good fit for jobs that can help attract manufacturing and other businesses to West Virginia or anywhere in the world,” said Javier Reyes, B&E Milan Puskar Dean. “The presence of strong technical talent is critical to this industry as it looks to satisfy the demands of a global marketplace. B&E students continue to demonstrate that they have the skills to be in that marketplace.”

Since its creation at B&E, the program has also won the renowned Race to the Case Supply Chain Management Competition at the University of Pittsburgh three times through collaborative student competition teams with the WVU Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.