ME Assistant Professor Shorya Awtar’s team at the Tauber Institute for Global Operations has once again won the annual Spotlight competition. The outstanding caliber of the team—composed of masters students Benjamin Pascoe and Alejandro Pelaez—was recognized on September 24, 2010, when they accepted the first place award at the annual Spotlight! competition for their project at General Motors Corp. Damian Beil, 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.
Pascoe with a BSE and MSE in Mechanical Engineer and Pelaez with a Master of Supply Chain Management brought fresh views on solving problems in the Automotive Industry. “Going into the project, I expected it to be challenging and complex and it definitely was,” says Pascoe of the in-company consulting experience delivered by the Tauber Institute for Global Operations. The institute is a joint venture between Ross and U-M’s College of Engineering, which combined Pascoe and Pelaez on the same team.
“Neither of us had much experience in the automotive industry or the plastics industry so there was a lot of hard work to do up front to be able to address the issues,” Pascoe says. “I learned a lot of the technical aspects working with engineers, manufacturers, and operators, and I also learned about supplier relations, which was a critical aspect of the project.”
Their Tauber project, “Application of Aluminum Alloys to Injection Mold Tooling,” studied the potential in switching from pre-hardened mold steel to aluminum alloys in regards to mold tooling applications. Results revealed the potential that implementing the change from steel to aluminum leads to $6.1 million annual savings per vehicle model.
At this year’s Spotlight! competition, 77 graduate students from the Ross School of business and College of Engineer presented their project results to corporate representatives, students, alumni and faculty. They competed for $30,000 in scholarships along with exposure to high-level corporate executives from P&G, Bosch, Aleris, SPX, Stryker, Dawn Foods and PepsiCo who served as judges for the 31 team project presentations. For first place, Pascoe and Pelaez were awarded $10,000 towards tuition but Pelaez says the true prize came during the experience itself. “Studying at U-M and working with GM has broadened my view of the world and helped me add to my own brand name,” he says.