APICS team makes first appearance at international competition
By Travis Cornejo | Student reporter
A group of Loyola students showcased Quinlan on an international stage as they advanced to the final round of the 2015 APICS International Student Case Competition in Las Vegas.
APICS, or the American Production and Inventory Control Society, sponsors the annual student case competition to test classroom knowledge against real-world inventory management situations. Adding to the realism, representatives from the company featured in the case competition were on hand to serve as judges.
To advance to the international round, colleges and universities first competed at the regional level. And in a school first, Quinlan won the Great Lakes regional competition, placing first out of 25 teams. Competing teams were from Indiana University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Michigan-Dearborn, among others.
Team members included Hussam Bachour, Taylor Damore, Samantha Duft, Sarah Mucerino, Anna Slover, Justin Stuck, Stephen Taylor, and Jing Zhao. Associate Professor Maciek Nowak served as the team adviser.
Winning the regional
“The challenge is that you can’t really prepare for this kind of competition, since you’re given the case on the day of the regional competition,” Bachour said. “They gave it to us at 7 p.m., and by 9 a.m. the next day, we had to submit everything. We had to work overnight.”
Bachour continued, “I also believe we performed well because Quinlan has a pretty strong program in inventory management. We were so lucky to have Professor Michael Hewitt’s class right before the competition. With some creative thinking, we were able to apply what we learned in class to the case study.”
He also credited Nowak with being a great advisor and mentor to the team.
“His support and guidance was invaluable, and all of us are so grateful to him for giving us this opportunity and helping us represent Loyola at such great events,” Bachour said.
But Nowak said it also helped that the students were “really engaged.” Even if they couldn’t prepare for the case competition in the traditional sense, he said they were interested in what they were doing and ready to go when it came time to compete. While other teams took time for nice dinners, the Quinlan students buckled down and worked through the night.
Competing at the international level
“After winning regionals, five of our students were allowed to take part in the international competition,” Nowak said. “So our local chapter paid to send them to Las Vegas, where they put one heck of a showing.”
At the international level, the competition changed formats, tasking the team with using a new simulation software—Fresh Connection. Bachour said the software allows one to see the dynamics between every part of supply chain and how components interact with each other.
“We did a couple of practice rounds, and even if we didn’t feel too knowledgeable about the software, it was still great,” Bachour said. “We went to Las Vegas to get more experience. We met great business professionals at the conference. And attending the conference itself was a great opportunity.”
Nowak said the team will be ready to return next year for a win.
“This year we had double the interest of any other year,” he said. “It’s been great, and I think part of it is because the supply chain program is growing and people are more interested in it. We’re expecting that we should be able to field two teams next year.”