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Smeal students part of winning team in inaugural Supply Chain Entrepreneurship Pitch Contest

May 2, 2016

2016 Supply Chain Pitch winners
Connexion won first place in the inaugural Smeal Supply Chain Entrepreneurship Pitch Contest in mid-April. Team members included, from left to right: Kenneth Au, Caity Mcdade, Vamshi Voruganti, Stephanie Mock.
Two Penn State Smeal College of Business undergraduate students were on the winning team for the inaugural Smeal Supply Chain Entrepreneurship Pitch Contest held in mid-April.

Caity Mcdade, a junior Supply Chain and Information Systems (SCIS) major, and Stephanie Mock, a sophomore SCIS/Economics dual major, were joined on the Connexion group by junior Computer Science major Kenneth Au and Vamshi Voruganti, a junior Industrial Engineering major. 

Connexion’s winning concept, for which it won $3,200, dealt with trucking logistics. Trucks often travel below maximum capacity or empty. The team posited that the wasted space provides an opportunity to optimize trucking logistics via a crowdsourcing platform.

Connexion would provide shippers the ability to ship at a reduced cost by matching other shipments to maximize capacity on trips. In order to do that, the team would use a machine learning cloud to compute optimal paths and planning to globally optimize based on factors like fuel costs, carbon emissions, travel time, package type, and more. 

The Fuel Plan group won the second-place prize of $1,600. The team was comprised of three engineering students: senior Matthew DiSanto (Industrial Engineering), senior Kyler Houser (Industrial Engineering), and Zachary Wilder (Energy Engineering). 

Those two teams emerged from an original field of 11 teams. 

Clean Slate Development Network and Advisory (CLEANSL8.DNA), CHAINalytics, Kane is Able, Inc., Lansdale Warehouse Company, and SDI sponsored the competition and provided the scholarship funds that were awarded. 

Competition judges included Art Mesher, chancellor of CLEANSL8.DNA (who also keynoted the event); Alex Stark, Senior Director of Marketing, of Kane is Able, Inc.; Irv Grossman, executive vice president, Americas, of CHAINalytics; Paul Delp, president of Lansdale Warehouse Company; and Jim Owens, senior vice president, business development, of SDI.

Smeal’s Center for Supply Chain Research and the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship co-developed the initiative in response to the industry challenge to create a gateway for entrepreneurship as a career choice in the supply-chain space. It was held as part of “Startup Week,” a university wide effort to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. 

The following undergraduate student organizations supported the endeavor through marketing and outreach efforts: Penn State American Production and Inventory Control Society, The Penn State Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, and The Management and Information Systems Association.

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