Industrial Engineering Senior Design Teams Receive Top Honors at West Point Capstone Conference
Each year engineering students from around the country gather at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, to test their engineering skills against the best undergraduate system engineers in the nation at the prestigious General Donald R. Keith Memorial Capstone Conference. Two teams of University of Arkansas industrial engineering students were among the more than 60 teams competing at this year's conference held April 28.
The conference is a student-focused forum for applied research in Systems Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Engineering Management, and Operations Research. Six schools provided teams in eight tracks. Each track had three judges for industry, government and academia.
Taking home first place were seniors Tyler Beneke, Tori McDaniel, Alexa Koenigseder and Lacey Burnett. In their project with the Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks, they worked with the Inventory Management team to create a new standardized item location system and count, error tracking and reporting tool. They represented the University of Arkansas in the Process Modeling and Analysis track at the conference. "Competing against five other teams was a fabulous and humbling experience," said senior Tyler Beneke.
The second team of seniors, Zach Watts, Michael Herm, Curtis Casey and Blake McMillon, brought home the second place prize in the Systems Optimization track. The project involved improving truck routing for a Fortune 500 transportation company. The team created a Visual Basic application that generated a solution for the vehicle routing problem. Using data provided by the sponsor company, their program generated several improvements to the existing routing process that the company could potentially implement resulting significant cost savings.
The teams competed as part of a U of A course called Industrial Engineering Design. This is the capstone course for undergraduate students majoring in industrial engineering. The purpose of the course is to give senior students the opportunity to apply knowledge learned throughout their college education to a significant industrial based project for a customer organization. The students have an opportunity to gain unique experience in conjunction with their coursework and work closely with staff of the companies to help solve a real business problem.
"Our two teams were outstanding representatives of our department, college, and university," said Greg Parnell, research professor of industrial engineering and instructor of the course.
Professor Ed Pohl, head of the Department of Industrial Engineering, stated, "I am extremely proud of the senior design teams that represented our department at the United States Military Academy. The ability to interact and compete successfully with teams from around the country illustrates the value of the educational experience they have received at the University of Arkansas."
Through this and other relationships with various companies, industrial engineering students are now able to gain experience through internships, co-ops, and, most recently, international senior design projects.
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