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Winners announced for the annual SCALE Supply Chain Challenge

The annual SCALE Supply Chain Challenge is a 2-week competition in which MIT SCM students and MIT SCALE Network students are tasked with finding innovative solutions to real-world supply chain problems for global companies.

February 17, 2023

This year, students, working in teams of 5, applied their quantitative modeling and analysis skills to data sets from Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Converse, Tempur Sealy, the Port of Amsterdam, among others. Multiple teams addressed each corporate challenge and each company selected a winning team based on innovation, feasibility and technical competency. Finalists then presented their recommendations to a panel of judges consisting of supply chain faculty and practitioners.  This year, the Challenge was sponsored by o9 Solutions. 

The winning team of Julia Fernandez del Valle (MIT SCM), Gianmarco Merino (MIT SCM), Gustavo Rodrigues (MIT SCM), Yumna Tajwar (LSCM), and Khaled Eid (ZLC), was awarded the top prize for their outstanding solution to a challenge facing J&J Medical Devices. 

J&J aimed to reduce costs associated with expedited shipments within the Ethicon Endo Energy Business Unit. The winning team recommended as a solution the development of an approval app to optimize the transportation selection process and reduce transportation costs by 20%. 

The Supply Chain Challenge was overseen by four expert judges: Chris Caplice, Executive Director of CTL; Saikat Banerjee, Engineering Leader at Amazon; Robert Novack, Associate Professor of Business Logistics at Penn State University; and Nehemiah Scott, Assistant Professor/Director of SCM & Corporate Affiliates Program at the University of Illinois. 

“The team did a great job understanding the problem, analyzing the data and coming up with a visual tool, and then implementing a process flow based on the insights captured from the visual dashboard,” said competition judge Banerjee. “This was not an easy task, and required ingenuity to achieve the expected savings while ensuring prompt delivery  and high service levels of critical healthcare products.” 

Reflecting on the results of the challenge, Gianmarco Merino, MIT SCM Student, shared, “When our team met each other, we said we would win. However, you know, working with different profiles and a tight timeframe made the challenge even more challenging (and because we are from MIT, it was more fun). But, as time went on, we started to build something, the app. It was Yumna’s idea; Julia and Khaled set the rules, and Gustavo translated this into a reality. And to make the long story short, finally, we made it. We won; these are the kind of experiences that will remain in your mind forever.”

Julia Fernandez del Valle, MIT SCM Student, added, “The Challenge presented a great opportunity to take on a real supply chain problem. The time limitations and reduced visibility of the data meant that each team member had to contribute a different talent to deliver an effective solution on time. Creativity, focus, collaboration, and communication were all essential to this win!”

Gustavo Rodrigues, MIT SCM Student, reiterated, “Personally, I loved being part of this  challenge! Not only because of the reward, but mainly because of the personal growth it offered me. Looking back, there were three key characteristics that enabled our success. Namely, a clear definition of roles, flexibility to change, and complimentary backgrounds.”

The Supply Chain Challenge is designed to offer students actual hands-on learning experiences and industry exposure. Confronted with real-life supply chain and operations issues provided by top companies, students are able to develop a range of skills to solve intricate challenges. This not only enables students to gain valuable knowledge but also strengthens their practical abilities. Moreover, the challenge serves as a platform for students to establish meaningful connections with supply chain professionals at top companies and seasoned industry experts.

Winning Teams:

1st Place (for work addressing a challenge from J&J – Medical Supply Expedites)

Julia Fernandez del Valle, Gianmarco Merino, Gustavo Rodrigues, Yumna Tajwar, and Khaled Eid


2nd Place (for work addressing a challenge from J&J – Pharma Distribution)

Sneha Neversu, Shoichi Ishida, Chandrahas Krishna, Abhinandan Chopra, and Katherine Tabares

3rd Place (for work addressing a challenge from Converse)

Carlos Contreras Silva, Dat Nguyen, Kaitlyn Rakestraw, Morgan Dehaan, and Shobhit Yadav