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Western wins northwest Boeing manufacturing competition

A team of five Western business majors won the annual Boeing Northwest Business Case Competition, beating out Central Washington University, Portland State University and the University of Washington.   The teams had to develop a commercial plane that could seat between 150 and 250 passengers. In the scenario, 5000 planes could be ordered by 2025 at $300 million each. Students were then given the task of cutting manufacturing costs by 50 percent without lowering quality or missing deadlines. Western’s team was made up of students Lara Masri, Preston Paulson, Zane Hashmi, Nathan Hill and Swann Davis.The final competition was held at the Boeing Museum of Flight on Nov. 4. This is the second time Western has won since the competition started four years ago.

“Their marketing analysis was very impressive. They had details about the likely demands from Middle Eastern countries and from countries in Asia. It really displayed a great depth of knowledge of the market.”

Gerard Campbell
First place prize was a $1,000 grand total and a guaranteed interview for a Boeing internship. Each team was given 20 minutes to present their findings in front of a panel of Boeing Executives, and then had ten minutes of answering questions.   “They gave us a certain demand. They gave us a cost estimate,” Paulson, a senior accounting major, said. “They wanted us to cut the cost with lean principles and different strategic management that we learned through school or brainstorming.” Each team was given a seven-page case study and three pages of graphs to introduce the scenario used in the competition. The plane the students were designing was meant to fill a gap in Boeing’s production. “The students were given a case. It is all dumped out on ten sheets of paper,” Ann Renee Mann, manager for Western’s manufacturing and supply chain major, said. “Then you are left to try to  figure out what is important and what angle to go. There are usually multiple ways you can approach it.” The team had only a week to complete its scenario and get ready to present, Paulson said. “We pretty much sat in the library for 12 hours a day for a week. We did a lot of brainstorming and research, finding out niches for plans and finding out what components worked best for certain airplanes.” Students had to take into account cost of labor, both domestic and international; the time it takes to train a new labor force and produce an aircraft, as well as the cost of different components used in aircrafts. “We analyzed all that, found suppliers, built a structure and plans on how we would build this airplane,” Paulson said. “Then we assembled financial statements to back up our findings.” During the presentation, teams revealed financial analysis and recommendations for the plane’s production, and the impact of any proposed changes to the manufacturing and design of the new aircraft. Last, students proposed a three-year manufacturing schedule, with scheduled deadlines to meet along the way.
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From left to right: Lara Masri, Preston Paulson, Zane Hashmi, Nathan Hill, Swabb Davis, and professor Gerard Campbell.
Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management professor Gerard Campbell traveled to Seattle to watch the team. “The Western presentation had solid depth across all the different functional areas,” Campbell said. “Their marketing analysis was very impressive. They had details about the likely demands from Middle Eastern countries and from countries in Asia. It really displayed a great depth of knowledge of the market.” Boeing executives were impressed with the comprehensive coverage shown by Western’s team with both the presentation and post-presentation questions. “One of the students mentioned that they called one of the suppliers [of Boeing] in Texas,” Campbell said. “Of course they didn’t get any response from them, but I think the Boeing executives were both impressed and amused that he tried calling them.” Teams were given a Microsoft Excel sheet of price estimates per component with a general location of where suppliers are located. In addition, students were also given the time it would take to produce components, and the percent of those components that could be completed on time. Masri, Hill and Hasmi are all officers of APICS, a club for supply chain majors. The club offers speakers every week from different companies, including REI, Amazon and Microsoft. Peter Haug, program director for the manufacturing and supply chain major, encouraged the three of them as officers to form a team. “It is how we really met each other and got to know each other,” Hasmi said. “It’s how we came together and galvanized our team.” Western, like many other universities, has a strong relationship with Boeing. Any given year, Western has between 30 and 40 business students intern for Boeing, Mann said.

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