Top projects in Poole College’s Sixth Annual Leadership and Innovation Showcase focus on quality

Submitted by Anna Rzewnicki on Wednesday Apr 16, 2014.

A personal device for monitoring air quality and a system to help a company maintain high standards between audit cycles received first place awards in the graduate and undergraduate divisions, respectively, of the NC State University Poole College of Management’s Sixth Annual Leadership and Innovation Showcase held April 15, 2014 at Nelson Hall in Raleigh, N.C.

The showcase provides Poole College of Management students an opportunity to present the results of their practicum and other project-based learning experiences to a larger audience.

That audience included a judging team of 15 business professionals, some of whom traveled from New York City; Charlotte; Washington, DC; and Des Moines, Iowa, to evaluate the team projects, along with members of the Poole College alumni, faculty and staff.

“Of significant value to the students is the experience they gain from developing and presenting poster summaries of their projects and talking about their ideas with individuals from diverse business and industry backgrounds,” said Ira Weiss, dean of the Poole College. “The event also provides an opportunity for other students to view the projects and see the kind of work they might be doing across a broad spectrum of opportunities in the college.”

The top three teams in each division, selected from a total of 35 teams in the competition this year, received a nominal scholarship award.

Employer of the Year recognized

In addition to announcing student project award winners, Poole College announced the recipient of its second annual Employer of the Year award, which this year is Lowe's Companies, Inc. Accepting the award on behalf of Lowe’s were four of the company’s senior human resources executives: Cedric Coco, senior vice president for human resources; Brian Emerson, vice president for talent acquisition; Thaddeus Jones, director of talent acquisition and college recruiting, and Mark Clark, senior college recruiter.

Lowe's was selected because of its long-standing relationship with academic programs throughout Poole College, and their engagement with the college's career development team and students through resume blitzes, information session, workshops, career coaching and career fairs.

First place teams offer solutions for monitoring air quality, supply chain quality


First place in the graduate division went to a multidisciplinary team of NC State graduate students who created the Airia Personal Air Quality Monitor as part of their fall 2013 Product Innovation Lab course in Poole College’s Jenkins MBA innovation management concentration.

The students were charged with creating a personal device that individuals suffering from asthma and other respiratory illnesses could use to measure the air quality in their immediate environment. The Airia wearable device and base station offers environmental monitoring that links personal air quality sensing technology, fitness and activity levels, providing users with a comprehensive view of the effects ambient air quality have on overall health and well-being.

In creating their product, the team drew on the diversity of disciplines and skills represented by the Airia team. Team members are Brian Westbrook, MBA alumnus (December 2013) with concentrations in innovation management, marketing management and entrepreneurship; McKinlay Jeannis, MBA candidate with a marketing management; Brian Franson, master’s student in industrial design; and Saksham Bhatla, a master’s student in electrical engineering.

They were taught in the course by a similarly diverse team of professors: Jon Bohlmann and John McCreery, both associate professors in the Poole College Department of Business Management; Engin Kapkin, a graphic and industrial design student worker in the College of Design; Troy Nagle and John Muth, both professors of electrical and computer engineering and Ola Harrysson, associate professor in the E.P Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, all in the College of Engineering. The Product Innovation Lab is among those on Forbe’s Most Innovative MBA courses list.

“The real value real value of the Innovation Lab lies in the cross-college nature of the course, bringing together different functional areas including business, design and engineering,” the team members stated in their project entry. “Throughout the course our team learned and deployed tools and techniques that businesses use during product development, while also working with ‘real’ technologies such as 3D printing through the Additive Manufacturing Lab at NC State. Finally, our team was given an opportunity to work closely with the NC State ASSIST Center, and leverage their 20+ industry partners to help us better understand and plan next steps in development. It was a truly valuable experience, and one that is unique to NC State.” 


The first place undergraduate team worked on a supply chain-related project for Bayer CropScience, a partner company in the college’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative. The team developed a new system of process checks and measurements that would help maintain high standards between procurement audit cycles, applying technical and conceptual skills learned in their information systems, purchasing and supply management, and operations planning and control systems courses.

Members of this team are Scott Dean Gray, Emily Tyler Ciriano, and Hamilton Jordan Brewer. All are business administration majors with concentrations in supply chain management and operations who worked on this project as part of the Supply Chain Management Undergraduate Practicum (Course BUS 479). They were guided by Tracy Freeman, teaching assistant professor of supply chain management in the Poole College of Management and member of the SCRC team that coordinates student projects sponsored by partner companies.


Graduate Division, second and third place teams

Second place and third place awards in the graduate division went to teams in the Jenkins MBA program’s Supply Chain Practicum (MBA 549).

  • The second place team completed a risk management project for Deere Enterprise Supply Management World Headquarters, an SCRC partner company. The team used big data analytics to gain insight into underlying global market conditions that drive risk and to develop recommendations that can improve the company’s risk management decision making. Team members are Jessica Newsome, an MBA candidate with a concentration in finance and supply chain management; Nithin Seshadri, a master’s student in industrial engineering, systems analysis and optimization; Delia Smith, MBA candidate in supply chain management; and Bo Zhang, master’s student in industrial engineering, quality control and supply chain management. They were mentored by Dianna Wentz, on the SCRC staff.
  • The third place graduate team completed a project that would help the NACCO Material Handling Group (NMHG), an SCRC partner company, establish and maintain a disciplined sourcing process engaging multiple functions adhering to an agreed upon timeline and objectives. The team developed an Aftermarket Sourcing Roadmap Model to engage multiple functions and support timely execution of sourcing. Team members were Rachel Rich, MBA candidate; Donald Fleming, MBA candidate; Manasi Ghogare, master’s, industrial engineering; and Nathalie Donaghy, MBA candidate. Freeman also mentored this project team. 

Undergraduate Division, second and third place teams

  • Second place in the undergraduate division went to Pennies 4 Progress, a social startup that will create a new revenue stream for local schools by enabling anyone to give a few pennies whenever making a purchase. The socially responsible and financially smart business model uses emerging point of sale and payment technologies, offering small businesses’ customers the ability to round up their bill to the next dollar and donate the difference to support local education initiatives. Team members are Ryan O’Donnell, a senior in business administration and international studies, international economy and environment, and Shreye Saxena, a senior in electrical and computer engineering with a minor in business administration. They were mentored by Lewis Sheats, Poole College senior lecturer in entrepreneurship.
  • Third place in the undergraduate division went to a supply chain team working on a project for NMHG, an SCRC partner company. This team was asked to assist NMHG in its decision making regarding option strategy and maintenance by creating a cost model to estimate the effect of individual options on related support cost. The team conducted academic research, external benchmarking and interviews with subject matter experts at NMHG in preparation for creating the model. Team members Alex Doggett Stewart, Robert Michael Elder, and Christopher Dan Godfrey, all bachelor’s degree students business administration with the supply chain/operations concentration, completed the project as part of their Supply Management Undergraduate Practicum (course BUS 479) and were mentored by Cecil Bozarth, Poole College professor and member of the SCRC faculty team.


Left to right: First place graduate team members Brian Franson, holding the base station for their product, and McKinlay Jeannis, holding the personal wrist band monitor, representing the Airia team and first place undergraduate team members Emily Tyler Ciriamy, Hamilton Jordan Brewer, Scott Dean GraIra, with Ira Weiss, Poole College dean.


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