Although all three projects he has participated in have been enriching opportunities, his most recent experience was particularly rewarding. “Sometimes,” said Awtar, “you get an exceptional team, like the one I worked with [this past summer].” The outstanding caliber of the team—composed of masters students Jialing Li and Claudia Uehara—was recognized on September 18, 2009, when they accepted the first place award at the annual Spotlight! competition. Hyun-Soo Ahn, a professor at the Ross School of Business, also advised the project.
The Tauber Institute is a joint program between the Ross Business School and the College of Engineering whose goal is to create “superior operations and manufacturing professionals.” The 14-week, paid Team Project—an essential component of the Tauber Institute education experience—places teams of two to four students with companies who require consulting on “substantive operations issues with business and engineering components.” “TIGO and the summer internship projects give students real world experience,” Awtar said.
For their award-winning project, Li and Uehara worked with AMETEK, a manufacturer of precision electronic instruments and electromechanical devices, at its headquarters in San Diego. They addressed problems in the manufacturing of Printed Circuit Board Assemblies (PCBAs). At the end of the internship, Li and Uehara recommended that AMETEK transitions to a new supply chain configuration for the PCBAs using both in‐sourcing and outsourcing. AMETEK chose to implement the students’ recommendations, and the new strategy will potentially save the company a predicted $700,000 annually.
“I think it’s very unique what these students did. They approached the problem in a very systematic, analytical way, and considered all the factors,” said Awtar. “They were persistent, and they absolutely never cut corners. It shouldn’t be surprising that they won.”
At this year’s Spotlight! competition, 29 teams presented their project results to corporate representatives, students, alumni and faculty. The projects were judged by six senior-level executives from industry, and were evaluated based on scope, implementation, impact, and overall presentation skills. “Spotlight! is a very competitive process,” said Awtar. “It is ultimately a presentation of real impact – no longer a classroom project but a real project, a real problem.”
In addition to taking first place at the competition, Li and Uehara were each awarded a $5,000 scholarship.
“The experience at AMETEK was very rewarding,” said Li, a Master of Supply Chain Management student. “Communication was key to our project. Effective communication and efficient execution enabled our project to exceed the expectation, which was analysis and recommendation only, and start the implementation.”
Uehara, a Master of Business Administration student, said, “My internship at AMETEK and the Spotlight! experience is something that I will never forget. It allowed me to realize that everything is possible if you have your goals very clear, commit to that, and are willing to take new challenges.”