Monday, November 27, 2006

Vanderbilt business school tops nation in Latin American case study competition

$10,000 Carnegie Mellon challenge: create supply chain for alternative fuel

A team of students from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management won first place at the 11th annual International Case Competition Nov. 10-11 at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

The Tepper School’s Operations Management and Latin American Business clubs teamed up this year to host the highly regarded competition, which kicked off with a panel discussion, “Emerging in Latin America: Operational Issues and Challenges Faced by Business.” The panelists included representatives from the International Finance Corporation, Deloitte, The Innovation Circle and Honeywell.

Following the panel discussion, student teams from top business schools were asked to design an effective supply chain for raw vegetable oil and biodiesel, a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable resources, for a fictional agribusiness investor in Latin America. The challenge was based on a current real-world case from one of the competition’s judges.

The teams received the challenge Friday afternoon and had to prepare a presentation by 1 a.m. on Saturday. The first round of presentations began Saturday at 8 a.m. The students competed to win the top prize of $10,000. Second place winners receive $5,000 and third place takes home $2,500.

The Owen School team – first-year students Marlene Marengo and Melissa Shearer and second-year students Landon Davies, Krista Fakoory and Blair Stilwell – took the top spot with a plan that maximized production of raw vegetable oil and biodiesel and called for an aggressive construction schedule to build several raw vegetable oil and biodiesel plants to gain market advantage. The winning team also suggested forming strategic alliances with diesel engine manufacturers and special interest groups to promote the use of biodiesel and support for raw vegetable oil as a renewable energy source and a healthy alternative to the trans fats and animal fats used in cooking.

Schools in this year’s competition included the Tepper School, Yale School of Management, the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, Columbia University Business School, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

The Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt is ranked as a top institution by Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times and Forbes. For more news about Owen, visit

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