A team of Mays MBA students recently placed 4th in the national Operations Simulation Competition hosted by the MIT Sloan Operations Management Club. The teams were tested on their ability to process information quickly and to make accurate predictions about demand on the fly. For three days, teams monitored the production of a simulated factory 24 hours a day, trying to earn the most money through efficient production.

Each team managed a simulated factory. According to Telyn Joseph ’11, students controlled some factors regarding the factory’s production including lot size, inventory reorder point, the number of machines working at each station, and work in process. Due to demand data being so limited, teams had to forecast what the demand would be each time production began. The more accurately they forecast, the closer they got to victory.

“The biggest challenge was that demand was not known and sufficient capital was also not provided in order to acquire inventory and capacity,” said Joseph, who explained that the team used modeling methods in order to forecast what demand might be. Decisions were based on projected numbers, so that the better they forecasted demand, the more money they would make.

The exercise was designed to teach basic concepts of operations, such as capacity planning, scheduling, and inventory management.

There were 75 teams competing, representing 300 MBA students from around the globe. The Mays team finished just behind teams from the University of California-San Diego (teams placed 1st and 3rd), New York University (2nd). Team members included: Andrew Folkert ’11, Ryan Goodnight ’11, Praveen Jain ’11, and Telyn Joseph ’11.