Industrial Engineering Students Place Second in Worldwide Simulation Competition

August 26, 2016

A team of industrial engineering students from the Foisie School of Business finished second in the Institute of Industrial Engineering’s Rockwell Student Simulation Competition, an event that attracts many of the world’s top engineering schools.

Elizabeth Karpinski, Camila Dias, Lin (Amber) Jiang, and their advisor, Renata Konrad, traveled to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., to present a model of a supply chain network they developed for a company operating 600 duck farms with annual sales exceeding $1 billion.

Each team had to develop a model to improve efficiency and save money for the company. The WPI team proposed an algorithm for revising a routing schedule, determined how to schedule production to demand, and even designed a company logo.

The team was the first ever from WPI and the first from the U.S. since 2012 to compete as finalists. It is also rare to have a team of three women as finalists. The finals competition included a closed-door technical review and an afternoon presentation before three judges and an audience.

Karpinski, the team captain, believes being part of an IE program in a business school provided an advantage for her team.

“We took several creative approaches to apply industrial engineering tools to the problem—for example, using our model output to create an optimization problem,” she says. “WPI’s industrial engineering program has pretty good breadth, which gave us an advantage in that area.”

“In addition, we were able to communicate more effectively than other teams, not only because of my writing background, but because the IE program is part of the Foisie School of Business, which places more emphasis on business communication than other schools.”

Jiang and Dias add that Konrad’s advice and encouragement also helped the team.

“She kept giving us advice throughout the project, accompanied us to the competition and gave us feedback about the presentation,” Jiang says.