Campus Life

UWF logistics team wins second place in national competition

By Josh Newby, University Communications

In January, six University of West Florida students won second place in Denver, Colo., beating out 14 of the top logistics programs in North America during the Operation Stimulus/Denver Transportation Club annual logistics case competition.

Members of the UWF team included Tom Cahill, Mike Bush, Daniel Marron, Preston Stokes, Laura Dubuisson and David Elting. The team spent two weeks and more than 100 hours preparing a detailed case analysis of a real-world global supply chain logistics management problem before presenting their findings to a panel of experts in Denver.

Team members are hand-picked from the marketing department on campus and the Marketing and Logistics Association that professor Scott Keller founded six years ago. The MLA brings together students and local professionals in the logistics and supply-chain management field to network and learn from one another.

“Our UWF team was fantastic,” said Keller. “In my 12 years taking teams to this competition, I’ve not seen a team that prepared a better analysis and presentation than our UWF team this year.”

This year, the team was tasked with the challenge of production and distribution of computer modems. They had to decide where to source and manufacture the materials from, as well as what means they would use to transport the materials to the target market. The team had to take into account import and export costs, taxes and transportation costs. They also had to cost-justify their recommendation and provide a timeline.

“It was a challenging and time-intensive experience, but it was great to apply everything I’ve learned,” said Laura Dubuisson, a senior that was on the team.

Once in Denver, the teams had to present their recommendations to a panel of six judges. After the presentation, the committee would present a twist to the original set of facts. The teams would then have one hour to factor in this new information to their original recommendation.

“That hour got pretty hectic,” said Dubuisson. “We weren’t allowed any cell phones or laptops for research. All we had to go on was what they gave us.”

After the teams presented their updated recommendations, the 15 teams were cut down to four and presented with another twist. After the teams updated their recommendations again, they presented for the final time to the judges and more than 150 industry professionals and students.

The students gleaned vast experience from the trip by solving a real-world problem comparable to ones they would have to solve in logistics careers. They also connected with key players in their profession and made valuable networking connections.

“Denver was an unbelievable experience,” said Preston Stokes, a member of the team. “It is a perfect mix of industry professionals and students who are all dedicated and involved in logistics. Not only was it a great learning tool listening to the guest speakers and presentations, but it was also a great networking tool, something that could really help someone land a job after graduation.”

Stokes was offered a job with Crane Worldwide just six weeks after the competition.

“Most of the students don’t realize what they’re capable of,” said Keller. “It’s great boosting their self-confidence and showing other larger schools what we are really about.”

About 90 percent of all those who have participated in the Denver team challenge have been offered jobs in logistics and/or supply chain management. Stokes credits that to the networking opportunities that he was afforded, as well as the significant addition a winning prize makes to an undergrad’s resume.

“MLA and the experience of being on this team have made me realize I want to make a career out of logistics,” said Stokes. “Two years ago I wasn’t even sure about logistics and didn’t know what it was all about. Dr. Keller has done a tremendous job of keeping us on track and always pushing us to do our best. Had it not been for MLA and the trip to Denver, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what I would want to do.”